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Title: An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
Author: Newman, John Henry Cardinal
Language: English
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the text.

                               AN ESSAY

                                ON THE

                       DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN


                     JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN.

                           _SIXTH EDITION_

                         NOTRE DAME, INDIANA





Not from any special interest which I anticipate you will take in this
Volume, or any sympathy you will feel in its argument, or intrinsic
fitness of any kind in my associating you and your Fellows with it,--

But, because I have nothing besides it to offer you, in token of my
sense of the gracious compliment which you and they have paid me in
making me once more a Member of a College dear to me from Undergraduate

Also, because of the happy coincidence, that whereas its first
publication was contemporaneous with my leaving Oxford, its second
becomes, by virtue of your act, contemporaneous with a recovery of my
position there:--

Therefore it is that, without your leave or your responsibility, I take
the bold step of placing your name in the first pages of what, at my
age, I must consider the last print or reprint on which I shall ever be

                            I am, my dear President,
                                   Most sincerely yours,
                                             JOHN H. NEWMAN.

_February 23, 1878._


The following pages were not in the first instance written to prove the
divinity of the Catholic Religion, though ultimately they furnish a
positive argument in its behalf, but to explain certain difficulties in
its history, felt before now by the author himself, and commonly
insisted on by Protestants in controversy, as serving to blunt the force
of its _primâ facie_ and general claims on our recognition.

However beautiful and promising that Religion is in theory, its history,
we are told, is its best refutation; the inconsistencies, found age
after age in its teaching, being as patent as the simultaneous
contrarieties of religious opinion manifest in the High, Low, and Broad
branches of the Church of England.

In reply to this specious objection, it is maintained in this Essay
that, granting that some large variations of teaching in its long course
of 1800 years exist, nevertheless, these, on examination, will be found
to arise from the nature of the case, and to proceed on a law, and with
a harmony and a definite drift, and with an analogy to Scripture
revelations, which, instead of telling to their disadvantage, actually
constitute an argument in their favour, as witnessing to a
superintending Providence and a great Design in the mode and in the
circumstances of their occurrence.

Perhaps his confidence in the truth and availableness of this view has
sometimes led the author to be careless and over-liberal in his
concessions to Protestants of historical fact.

If this be so anywhere, he begs the reader in such cases to understand
him as speaking hypothetically, and in the sense of an _argumentum ad
hominem_ and _à fortiori_. Nor is such hypothetical reasoning out of
place in a publication which is addressed, not to theologians, but to
those who as yet are not even Catholics, and who, as they read history,
would scoff at any defence of Catholic doctrine which did not go the
length of covering admissions in matters of fact as broad as those which
are here ventured on.

In this new Edition of the Essay various important alterations have been
made in the arrangement of its separate parts, and some, not indeed in
its matter, but in its text.

_February 2, 1878._



It is now above eleven years since the writer of the following pages, in
one of the early Numbers of the Tracts for the Times, expressed himself

     "Considering the high gifts, and the strong claims of the
     Church of Rome and her dependencies on our admiration,
     reverence, love, and gratitude, how could we withstand her, as
     we do; how could we refrain from being melted into tenderness,
     and rushing into communion with her, but for the words of
     Truth, which bid us prefer Itself to the whole world? 'He that
     loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.'
     How could we learn to be severe, and execute judgment, but for
     the warning of Moses against even a divinely-gifted teacher
     who should preach new gods, and the anathema of St. Paul even
     against Angels and Apostles who should bring in a new

He little thought, when he so wrote, that the time would ever come when
he should feel the obstacle, which he spoke of as lying in the way of
communion with the Church of Rome, to be destitute of solid foundation.

The following work is directed towards its removal.

Having, in former publications, called attention to the supposed
difficulty, he considers himself bound to avow his present belief that
it is imaginary.

He has neither the ability to put out of hand a finished composition,
nor the wish to make a powerful and moving representation, on the great
subject of which he treats. His aim will be answered, if he succeeds in
suggesting thoughts, which in God's good time may quietly bear fruit, in
the minds of those to whom that subject is new; and which may carry
forward inquirers, who have already put themselves on the course.

If at times his tone appears positive or peremptory, he hopes this will
be imputed to the scientific character of the Work, which requires a
distinct statement of principles, and of the arguments which recommend

He hopes too he shall be excused for his frequent quotations from
himself; which are necessary in order to show how he stands at present
in relation to various of his former Publications. * * *

      _October 6, 1845_.


Since the above was written, the Author has joined the Catholic Church.
It was his intention and wish to have carried his Volume through the
Press before deciding finally on this step. But when he had got some
way in the printing, he recognized in himself a conviction of the truth
of the conclusion to which the discussion leads, so clear as to
supersede further deliberation. Shortly afterwards circumstances gave
him the opportunity of acting upon it, and he felt that he had no
warrant for refusing to do so.

His first act on his conversion was to offer his Work for revision to
the proper authorities; but the offer was declined on the ground that it
was written and partly printed before he was a Catholic, and that it
would come before the reader in a more persuasive form, if he read it as
the author wrote it.

It is scarcely necessary to add that he now submits every part of the
book to the judgment of the Church, with whose doctrine, on the subjects
of which he treats, he wishes all his thoughts to be coincident.


[ix-1] Records of the Church, xxiv. p. 7.



  INTRODUCTION                                                         3


  The Development of Ideas                                            33
      Section 1. The Process of Development in Ideas                  33
      Section 2. The Kinds of Development in Ideas                    41


  The Antecedent Argument in behalf of Developments in Christian
        Doctrine                                                      55
      Section 1. Developments to be expected                          55
      Section 2. An infallible Developing Authority to be expected    75
      Section 3. The existing Developments of Doctrine the probable
        Fulfilment of that Expectation                                92


  The Historical Argument in behalf of the existing Developments      99
      Section 1. Method of Proof                                      99
      Section 2. State of the Evidence                               110


  Instances in Illustration                                          122
      Section 1. Instances cursorily noticed                         123
            § 1. Canon of the New Testament                          123
            § 2. Original Sin                                        126
            § 3. Infant Baptism                                      127
            § 4. Communion in one kind                               129
            § 5. The Homoüsion                                       133
      Section 2. Our Lord's Incarnation, and the dignity of His
        Mother and of all Saints                                     135
      Section 3. Papal Supremacy                                     148




  Genuine Developments contrasted with Corruptions                   169
      Section 1. First Note of a genuine Development of an Idea:
        Preservation of its Type                                     171
      Section 2. Second Note: Continuity of its Principles           178
      Section 3. Third Note: Its Power of Assimilation               185
      Section 4. Fourth Note: Its Logical Sequence                   189
      Section 5. Fifth Note: Anticipation of its Future              195
      Section 6. Sixth Note: Conservative Action upon its Past       199
      Section 7. Seventh Note: Its Chronic Vigour                    203


  Application of the First Note of a true Development to the
        Existing Developments of Christian Doctrine: Preservation
        of its Type                                                  207
      Section 1. The Church of the First Centuries                   208
      Section 2. The Church of the Fourth Century                    248
      Section 3. The Church of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries         273


  Application of the Second: Continuity of its Principles            323
            § 1. Principles of Christianity                          323
            § 2. Supremacy of Faith                                  326
            § 3. Theology                                            336
            § 4. Scripture and its Mystical Interpretation           338
            § 5. Dogma                                               346
            § 6. Additional Remarks                                  353


  Application of the Third: its Assimilative Power                   355
            § 1. The Assimilating Power of Dogmatic Truth            357
            § 2. The Assimilating Power of Sacramental Grace         368


  Application of the Fourth: its Logical Sequence                    383
            § 1. Pardons                                             384
            § 2. Penances                                            385
            § 3. Satisfactions                                       386
            § 4. Purgatory                                           388
            § 5. Meritorious Works                                   393
            § 6. The Monastic Rule                                   395


  Application of the Fifth: Anticipation of its Future               400
            § 1. Resurrection and Relics                             401
            § 2. The Virgin Life                                     407
            § 3. Cultus of Saints and Angels                         410
            § 4. Office of the Blessed Virgin                        415


  Application of the Sixth: Conservative Action on its Past          419
      Section 1. Instances cursorily noticed                         420
      Section 2. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin                      425


  Application of the Seventh: its Chronic Vigour                     437

  CONCLUSION                                                         445




Christianity has been long enough in the world to justify us in dealing
with it as a fact in the world's history. Its genius and character, its
doctrines, precepts, and objects cannot be treated as matters of private
opinion or deduction, unless we may reasonably so regard the Spartan
institutions or the religion of Mahomet. It may indeed legitimately be
made the subject-matter of theories; what is its moral and political
excellence, what its due location in the range of ideas or of facts
which we possess, whether it be divine or human, whether original or
eclectic, or both at once, how far favourable to civilization or to
literature, whether a religion for all ages or for a particular state of
society, these are questions upon the fact, or professed solutions of
the fact, and belong to the province of opinion; but to a fact do they
relate, on an admitted fact do they turn, which must be ascertained as
other facts, and surely has on the whole been so ascertained, unless the
testimony of so many centuries is to go for nothing. Christianity is no
theory of the study or the cloister. It has long since passed beyond the
letter of documents and the reasonings of individual minds, and has
become public property. Its "sound has gone out into all lands," and its
"words unto the ends of the world." It has from the first had an
objective existence, and has thrown itself upon the great concourse of
men. Its home is in the world; and to know what it is, we must seek it
in the world, and hear the world's witness of it.


The hypothesis, indeed, has met with wide reception in these latter
times, that Christianity does not fall within the province of
history,--that it is to each man what each man thinks it to be, and
nothing else; and thus in fact is a mere name for a cluster or family of
rival religions all together, religions at variance one with another,
and claiming the same appellation, not because there can be assigned any
one and the same doctrine as the common foundation of all, but because
certain points of agreement may be found here and there of some sort or
other, by which each in its turn is connected with one or other of the
rest. Or again, it has been maintained, or implied, that all existing
denominations of Christianity are wrong, none representing it as taught
by Christ and His Apostles; that the original religion has gradually
decayed or become hopelessly corrupt; nay that it died out of the world
at its birth, and was forthwith succeeded by a counterfeit or
counterfeits which assumed its name, though they inherited at best but
some fragments of its teaching; or rather that it cannot even be said
either to have decayed or to have died, because historically it has no
substance of its own, but from the first and onwards it has, on the
stage of the world, been nothing more than a mere assemblage of
doctrines and practices derived from without, from Oriental, Platonic,
Polytheistic sources, from Buddhism, Essenism, Manicheeism; or that,
allowing true Christianity still to exist, it has but a hidden and
isolated life, in the hearts of the elect, or again as a literature or
philosophy, not certified in any way, much less guaranteed, to come from
above, but one out of the various separate informations about the
Supreme Being and human duty, with which an unknown Providence had
furnished us, whether in nature or in the world.


All such views of Christianity imply that there is no sufficient body of
historical proof to interfere with, or at least to prevail against, any
number whatever of free and independent hypotheses concerning it. But
this surely is not self-evident, and has itself to be proved. Till
positive reasons grounded on facts are adduced to the contrary, the most
natural hypotheses, the most agreeable to our mode of proceeding in
parallel cases, and that which takes precedence of all others, is to
consider that the society of Christians, which the Apostles left on
earth, were of that religion to which the Apostles had converted them;
that the external continuity of name, profession, and communion, argues
a real continuity of doctrine; that, as Christianity began by
manifesting itself as of a certain shape and bearing to all mankind,
therefore it went on so to manifest itself; and that the more,
considering that prophecy had already determined that it was to be a
power visible in the world and sovereign over it, characters which are
accurately fulfilled in that historical Christianity to which we
commonly give the name. It is not a violent assumption, then, but rather
mere abstinence from the wanton admission of a principle which would
necessarily lead to the most vexatious and preposterous scepticism, to
take it for granted, before proof to the contrary, that the Christianity
of the second, fourth, seventh, twelfth, sixteenth, and intermediate
centuries is in its substance the very religion which Christ and His
Apostles taught in the first, whatever may be the modifications for good
or for evil which lapse of years, or the vicissitudes of human affairs,
have impressed upon it.

Of course I do not deny the abstract possibility of extreme changes.
The substitution is certainly, in idea, supposable of a counterfeit
Christianity,--superseding the original, by means of the adroit
innovations of seasons, places, and persons, till, according to the
familiar illustration, the "blade" and the "handle" are alternately
renewed, and identity is lost without the loss of continuity. It is
possible; but it must not be assumed. The _onus probandi_ is with those
who assert what it is unnatural to expect; to be just able to doubt is
no warrant for disbelieving.


Accordingly, some writers have gone on to give reasons from history for
their refusing to appeal to history. They aver that, when they come to
look into the documents and literature of Christianity in times past,
they find its doctrines so variously represented, and so inconsistently
maintained by its professors, that, however natural it be _à priori_, it
is useless, in fact, to seek in history the matter of that Revelation
which has been vouchsafed to mankind; that they cannot be historical
Christians if they would. They say, in the words of Chillingworth,
"There are popes against popes, councils against councils, some fathers
against others, the same fathers against themselves, a consent of
fathers of one age against a consent of fathers of another age, the
Church of one age against the Church of another age:"--Hence they are
forced, whether they will or not, to fall back upon the Bible as the
sole source of Revelation, and upon their own personal private judgment
as the sole expounder of its doctrine. This is a fair argument, if it
can be maintained, and it brings me at once to the subject of this
Essay. Not that it enters into my purpose to convict of misstatement, as
might be done, each separate clause of this sweeping accusation of a
smart but superficial writer; but neither on the other hand do I mean
to deny everything that he says to the disadvantage of historical
Christianity. On the contrary, I shall admit that there are in fact
certain apparent variations in its teaching, which have to be explained;
thus I shall begin, but then I shall attempt to explain them to the
exculpation of that teaching in point of unity, directness, and


Meanwhile, before setting about this work, I will address one remark to
Chillingworth and his friends:--Let them consider, that if they can
criticize history, the facts of history certainly can retort upon them.
It might, I grant, be clearer on this great subject than it is. This is
no great concession. History is not a creed or a catechism, it gives
lessons rather than rules; still no one can mistake its general teaching
in this matter, whether he accept it or stumble at it. Bold outlines and
broad masses of colour rise out of the records of the past. They may be
dim, they may be incomplete; but they are definite. And this one thing
at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits,
whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at
least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there
were a safe truth, it is this.

And Protestantism has ever felt it so. I do not mean that every writer
on the Protestant side has felt it; for it was the fashion at first, at
least as a rhetorical argument against Rome, to appeal to past ages, or
to some of them; but Protestantism, as a whole, feels it, and has felt
it. This is shown in the determination already referred to of dispensing
with historical Christianity altogether, and of forming a Christianity
from the Bible alone: men never would have put it aside, unless they had
despaired of it. It is shown by the long neglect of ecclesiastical
history in England, which prevails even in the English Church. Our
popular religion scarcely recognizes the fact of the twelve long ages
which lie between the Councils of Nicæa and Trent, except as affording
one or two passages to illustrate its wild interpretations of certain
prophesies of St. Paul and St. John. It is melancholy to say it, but the
chief, perhaps the only English writer who has any claim to be
considered an ecclesiastical historian, is the unbeliever Gibbon. To be
deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.


And this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical
Christianity is a plain fact, whether the latter be regarded in its
earlier or in its later centuries. Protestants can as little bear its
Ante-nicene as its Post-tridentine period. I have elsewhere observed on
this circumstance: "So much must the Protestant grant that, if such a
system of doctrine as he would now introduce ever existed in early
times, it has been clean swept away as if by a deluge, suddenly,
silently, and without memorial; by a deluge coming in a night, and
utterly soaking, rotting, heaving up, and hurrying off every vestige of
what it found in the Church, before cock-crowing: so that 'when they
rose in the morning' her true seed 'were all dead corpses'--Nay dead and
buried--and without gravestone. 'The waters went over them; there was
not one of them left; they sunk like lead in the mighty waters.' Strange
antitype, indeed, to the early fortunes of Israel!--then the enemy was
drowned, and 'Israel saw them dead upon the sea-shore.' But now, it
would seem, water proceeded as a flood 'out of the serpent's mouth,' and
covered all the witnesses, so that not even their dead bodies lay in the
streets of the great city.' Let him take which of his doctrines he will,
his peculiar view of self-righteousness, of formality, of superstition;
his notion of faith, or of spirituality in religious worship; his denial
of the virtue of the sacraments, or of the ministerial commission, or
of the visible Church; or his doctrine of the divine efficacy of the
Scriptures as the one appointed instrument of religious teaching; and
let him consider how far Antiquity, as it has come down to us, will
countenance him in it. No; he must allow that the alleged deluge has
done its work; yes, and has in turn disappeared itself; it has been
swallowed up by the earth, mercilessly as itself was merciless."[9:1]

That Protestantism, then, is not the Christianity of history, it is easy
to determine, but to retort is a poor reply in controversy to a question
of fact, and whatever be the violence or the exaggeration of writers
like Chillingworth, if they have raised a real difficulty, it may claim
a real answer, and we must determine whether on the one hand
Christianity is still to represent to us a definite teaching from above,
or whether on the other its utterances have been from time to time so
strangely at variance, that we are necessarily thrown back on our own
judgment individually to determine, what the revelation of God is, or
rather if in fact there is, or has been, any revelation at all.


Here then I concede to the opponents of historical Christianity, that
there are to be found, during the 1800 years through which it has
lasted, certain apparent inconsistencies and alterations in its doctrine
and its worship, such as irresistibly attract the attention of all who
inquire into it. They are not sufficient to interfere with the general
character and course of the religion, but they raise the question how
they came about, and what they mean, and have in consequence supplied
matter for several hypotheses.

Of these one is to the effect that Christianity has even changed from
the first and ever accommodates itself to the circumstances of times and
seasons; but it is difficult to understand how such a view is compatible
with the special idea of revealed truth, and in fact its advocates more
or less abandon, or tend to abandon the supernatural claims of
Christianity; so it need not detain us here.

A second and more plausible hypothesis is that of the Anglican divines,
who reconcile and bring into shape the exuberant phenomena under
consideration, by cutting off and casting away as corruptions all
usages, ways, opinions, and tenets, which have not the sanction of
primitive times. They maintain that history first presents to us a pure
Christianity in East and West, and then a corrupt; and then of course
their duty is to draw the line between what is corrupt and what is pure,
and to determine the dates at which the various changes from good to bad
were introduced. Such a principle of demarcation, available for the
purpose, they consider they have found in the _dictum_ of Vincent of
Lerins, that revealed and Apostolic doctrine is "quod semper, quod
ubique, quod ab omnibus," a principle infallibly separating, on the
whole field of history, authoritative doctrine from opinion, rejecting
what is faulty, and combining and forming a theology. That "Christianity
is what has been held always, everywhere, and by all," certainly
promises a solution of the perplexities, an interpretation of the
meaning, of history. What can be more natural than that divines and
bodies of men should speak, sometimes from themselves, sometimes from
tradition? what more natural than that individually they should say many
things on impulse, or under excitement, or as conjectures, or in
ignorance? what more certain than that they must all have been
instructed and catechized in the Creed of the Apostles? what more
evident than that what was their own would in its degree be peculiar,
and differ from what was similarly private and personal in their
brethren? what more conclusive than that the doctrine that was common to
all at once was not really their own, but public property in which they
had a joint interest, and was proved by the concurrence of so many
witnesses to have come from an Apostolical source? Here, then, we have a
short and easy method for bringing the various informations of
ecclesiastical history under that antecedent probability in its favour,
which nothing but its actual variations would lead us to neglect. Here
we have a precise and satisfactory reason why we should make much of the
earlier centuries, yet pay no regard to the later, why we should admit
some doctrines and not others, why we refuse the Creed of Pius IV. and
accept the Thirty-nine Articles.


Such is the rule of historical interpretation which has been professed
in the English school of divines; and it contains a majestic truth, and
offers an intelligible principle, and wears a reasonable air. It is
congenial, or, as it may be said, native to the Anglican mind, which
takes up a middle position, neither discarding the Fathers nor
acknowledging the Pope. It lays down a simple rule by which to measure
the value of every historical fact, as it comes, and thereby it provides
a bulwark against Rome, while it opens an assault upon Protestantism.
Such is its promise; but its difficulty lies in applying it in
particular cases. The rule is more serviceable in determining what is
not, than what is Christianity; it is irresistible against
Protestantism, and in one sense indeed it is irresistible against Rome
also, but in the same sense it is irresistible against England. It
strikes at Rome through England. It admits of being interpreted in one
of two ways: if it be narrowed for the purpose of disproving the
catholicity of the Creed of Pope Pius, it becomes also an objection to
the Athanasian; and if it be relaxed to admit the doctrines retained by
the English Church, it no longer excludes certain doctrines of Rome
which that Church denies. It cannot at once condemn St. Thomas and St.
Bernard, and defend St. Athanasius and St. Gregory Nazianzen.

This general defect in its serviceableness has been heretofore felt by
those who appealed to it. It was said by one writer; "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 month? 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
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."[12:1]


So much was allowed by this writer; but then he added:--

"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 Protestants and Romanists are not
slow to avail themselves."

This surely is the language of disputants who are more intent on
assailing others than on defending themselves; as if similar loopholes
were not necessary for Anglican theology.

He elsewhere says: "What there is not the shadow of a reason for saying
that the Fathers held, what has not the faintest pretensions of being a
Catholic truth, is this, that St. Peter or his successors were and are
universal Bishops, that they have the whole of Christendom for their one
diocese in a way in which other Apostles and Bishops had and have
not."[13:1] Most true, if, in order that a doctrine be considered
Catholic, it must be formally stated by the Fathers generally from the
very first; but, on the same understanding, the doctrine also of the
apostolical succession in the episcopal order "has not the faintest
pretensions of being a Catholic truth."

Nor was this writer without a feeling of the special difficulty of his
school; and he attempted to meet it by denying it. He wished to maintain
that the sacred doctrines admitted by the Church of England into her
Articles were taught in primitive times with a distinctness which no one
could fancy to attach to the characteristic tenets of Rome.

"We confidently affirm," he said in another publication, "that there is
not an article in the Athanasian Creed concerning the Incarnation which
is not anticipated in the controversy with the Gnostics. There is no
question which the Apollinarian or the Nestorian heresy raised, which
may not be decided in the words of Ignatius, Irenæus and


This may be considered as true. It may be true also, or at least shall
here be granted as true, that there is also a _consensus_ in the
Ante-nicene Church for the doctrines of our Lord's Consubstantiality and
Coeternity with the Almighty Father. Let us allow that the whole circle
of doctrines, of which our Lord is the subject, was consistently and
uniformly confessed by the Primitive Church, though not ratified
formally in Council. But it surely is otherwise with the Catholic
doctrine of the Trinity. I do not see in what sense it can be said that
there is a _consensus_ of primitive divines in its favour, which will
not avail also for certain doctrines of the Roman Church which will
presently come into mention. And this is a point which the writer of the
above passages ought to have more distinctly brought before his mind and
more carefully weighed; but he seems to have fancied that Bishop Bull
proved the primitiveness of the Catholic doctrine concerning the Holy
Trinity as well as that concerning our Lord.

Now it should be clearly understood what it is which must be shown by
those who would prove it. Of course the doctrine of our Lord's divinity
itself partly implies and partly recommends the doctrine of the Trinity;
but implication and suggestion belong to another class of arguments
which has not yet come into consideration. Moreover the statements of a
particular father or doctor may certainly be of a most important
character; but one divine is not equal to a Catena. We must have a whole
doctrine stated by a whole Church. The Catholic Truth in question is
made up of a number of separate propositions, each of which, if
maintained to the exclusion of the rest, is a heresy. In order then to
prove that all the Ante-nicene writers taught the dogma of the Holy
Trinity, it is not enough to prove that each still has gone far enough
to be only a heretic--not enough to prove that one has held that the
Son is God, (for so did the Sabellian, so did the Macedonian), and
another that the Father is not the Son, (for so did the Arian), and
another that the Son is equal to the Father, (for so did the Tritheist),
and another that there is but One God, (for so did the Unitarian),--not
enough that many attached in some sense a Threefold Power to the idea of
the Almighty, (for so did almost all the heresies that ever existed, and
could not but do so, if they accepted the New Testament at all); but we
must show that all these statements at once, and others too, are laid
down by as many separate testimonies as may fairly be taken to
constitute a "_consensus_ of doctors." It is true indeed that the
subsequent profession of the doctrine in the Universal Church creates a
presumption that it was held even before it was professed; and it is
fair to interpret the early Fathers by the later. This is true, and
admits of application to certain other doctrines besides that of the
Blessed Trinity in Unity; but there is as little room for such
antecedent probabilities as for the argument from suggestions and
intimations in the precise and imperative _Quod semper, quod ubique,
quod ab omnibus_, as it is commonly understood by English divines, and
is by them used against the later Church and the see of Rome. What we
have a right to ask, if we are bound to act upon Vincent's rule in
regard to the Trinitarian dogma, is a sufficient number of Ante-nicene
statements, each distinctly anticipating the Athanasian Creed.


Now let us look at the leading facts of the case, in appealing to which
I must not be supposed to be ascribing any heresy to the holy men whose
words have not always been sufficiently full or exact to preclude the
imputation. First, the Creeds of that early day make no mention in
their letter of the Catholic doctrine at all. They make mention indeed
of a Three; but that there is any mystery in the doctrine, that the
Three are One, that They are coequal, coeternal, all increate, all
omnipotent, all incomprehensible, is not stated, and never could be
gathered from them. Of course we believe that they imply it, or rather
intend it. God forbid we should do otherwise! But nothing in the mere
letter of those documents leads to that belief. To give a deeper meaning
to their letter, we must interpret them by the times which came after.

Again, there is one and one only great doctrinal Council in Ante-nicene
times. It was held at Antioch, in the middle of the third century, on
occasion of the incipient innovations of the Syrian heretical school.
Now the Fathers there assembled, for whatever reason, condemned, or at
least withdrew, when it came into the dispute, the word "Homoüsion,"
which was afterwards received at Nicæa as the special symbol of
Catholicism against Arius.[16:1]

Again, the six great Bishops and Saints of the Ante-nicene Church were
St. Irenæus, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St.
Dionysius of Alexandria, and St. Methodius. Of these, St. Dionysius is
accused by St. Basil of having sown the first seeds of Arianism;[16:2]
and St. Gregory is allowed by the same learned Father to have used
language concerning our Lord, which he only defends on the plea of an
economical object in the writer.[16:3] St. Hippolytus speaks as if he
were ignorant of our Lord's Eternal Sonship;[17:1] St. Methodius speaks
incorrectly at least upon the Incarnation;[17:2] and St. Cyprian does
not treat of theology at all. Such is the incompleteness of the extant
teaching of these true saints, and, in their day, faithful witnesses of
the Eternal Son.

Again, Athenagoras, St. Clement, Tertullian, and the two SS. Dionysii
would appear to be the only writers whose language is at any time exact
and systematic enough to remind us of the Athanasian Creed. If we limit
our view of the teaching of the Fathers by what they expressly state,
St. Ignatius may be considered as a Patripassian, St. Justin arianizes,
and St. Hippolytus is a Photinian.

Again, there are three great theological authors of the Ante-nicene
centuries, Tertullian, Origen, and, we may add, Eusebius, though he
lived some way into the fourth. Tertullian is heterodox on the doctrine
of our Lord's divinity,[17:3] and, indeed, ultimately fell altogether
into heresy or schism; Origen is, at the very least, suspected, and must
be defended and explained rather than cited as a witness of orthodoxy;
and Eusebius was a Semi-Arian.


Moreover, it may be questioned whether any Ante-nicene father
distinctly affirms either the numerical Unity or the Coequality of the
Three Persons; except perhaps the heterodox Tertullian, and that chiefly
in a work written after he had become a Montanist:[18:1] yet to satisfy
the Anti-roman use of _Quod semper, &c._, surely we ought not to be left
for these great articles of doctrine to the testimony of a later age.

Further, Bishop Bull allows that "nearly all the ancient Catholics who
preceded Arius have the appearance of being ignorant of the invisible
and incomprehensible (_immensam_) nature of the Son of God;"[18:2] an
article expressly taught in the Athanasian Creed under the sanction of
its anathema.

It must be asked, moreover, how much direct and literal testimony the
Ante-nicene Fathers give, one by one, to the divinity of the Holy
Spirit? This alone shall be observed, that St. Basil, in the fourth
century, finding that, if he distinctly called the Third Person in the
Blessed Trinity by the Name of God, he should be put out of the Church
by the Arians, pointedly refrained from doing so on an occasion on which
his enemies were on the watch; and that, when some Catholics found fault
with him, St. Athanasius took his part.[18:3] Could this possibly have
been the conduct of any true Christian, not to say Saint, of a later
age? that is, whatever be the true account of it, does it not suggest to
us that the testimony of those early times lies very unfavourably for
the application of the rule of Vincentius?


Let it not be for a moment supposed that I impugn the orthodoxy of the
early divines, or the cogency of their testimony among _fair_ inquirers;
but I am trying them by that _unfair_ interpretation of Vincentius,
which is necessary in order to make him available against the Church of
Rome. And now, as to the positive evidence which those Fathers offer in
behalf of the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, it has been drawn out by
Dr. Burton and seems to fall under two heads. One is the general
_ascription of glory_ to the Three Persons together, both by fathers and
churches, and that on continuous tradition and from the earliest times.
Under the second fall certain _distinct statements_ of _particular_
fathers; thus we find the word "Trinity" used by St. Theophilus, St.
Clement, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Origen, St. Methodius;
and the Divine _Circumincessio_, the most distinctive portion of the
Catholic doctrine, and the unity of power, or again, of substance, are
declared with more or less distinctness by Athenagoras, St. Irenæus, St.
Clement, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus, Origen, and the two SS. Dionysii.
This is pretty much the whole of the evidence.


Perhaps it will be said we ought to take the Ante-nicene Fathers as a
whole, and interpret one of them by another. This is to assume that they
are all of one school, which of course they are, but which in
controversy is a point to be proved; but it is even doubtful whether, on
the whole, such a procedure would strengthen the argument. For instance,
as to the second head of the positive evidence noted by Dr. Burton,
Tertullian is the most formal and elaborate of these Fathers in his
statements of the Catholic doctrine. "It would hardly be possible," says
Dr. Burton, after quoting a passage, "for Athanasius himself, or the
compiler of the Athanasian Creed, to have delivered the doctrine of the
Trinity in stronger terms than these."[19:1] Yet Tertullian must be
considered heterodox on the doctrine of our Lord's eternal
generation.[20:1] If then we are to argue from his instance to that of
the other Fathers, we shall be driven to the conclusion that even the
most exact statements are worth nothing more than their letter, are a
warrant for nothing beyond themselves, and are consistent with
heterodoxy where they do not expressly protest against it.

And again, as to the argument derivable from the Doxologies, it must not
be forgotten that one of the passages in St. Justin Martyr includes the
worship of the Angels. "We worship and adore," he says, "Him, and the
Son who came from Him and taught us these things, and the host of those
other good Angels, who follow and are like Him, and the Prophetic
Spirit."[20:2] A Unitarian might argue from this passage that the glory
and worship which the early Church ascribed to our Lord was not more
definite than that which St. Justin was ready to concede to creatures.


Thus much on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Let us proceed to another
example. There are two doctrines which are generally associated with the
name of a Father of the fourth and fifth centuries, and which can show
little definite, or at least but partial, testimony in their behalf
before his time,--Purgatory and Original Sin. The dictum of Vincent
admits both or excludes both, according as it is or is not rigidly
taken; but, if used by Aristotle's "Lesbian Rule," then, as Anglicans
would wish, it can be made to admit Original Sin and exclude Purgatory.

On the one hand, some notion of suffering, or disadvantage, or
punishment after this life, in the case of the faithful departed, or
other vague forms of the doctrine of Purgatory, has in its favour almost
a _consensus_ of the four first ages of the Church, though some Fathers
state it with far greater openness and decision than others. It is, as
far as words go, the confession of St. Clement of Alexandria,
Tertullian, St. Perpetua, St. Cyprian, Origen, Lactantius, St. Hilary,
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose, St. Basil, St. Gregory of
Nazianzus, and of Nyssa, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Paulinus, and
St. Augustine. And so, on the other hand, there is a certain agreement
of Fathers from the first that mankind has derived some disadvantage
from the sin of Adam.


Next, when we consider the two doctrines more distinctly,--the doctrine
that between death and judgment there is a time or state of punishment;
and the doctrine that all men, naturally propagated from fallen Adam,
are in consequence born destitute of original righteousness,--we find,
on the one hand, several, such as Tertullian, St. Perpetua, St. Cyril,
St. Hilary, St. Jerome, St. Gregory Nyssen, as far as their words go,
definitely declaring a doctrine of Purgatory: whereas no one will say
that there is a testimony of the Fathers, equally strong, for the
doctrine of Original Sin, though it is difficult here to make any
definite statement about their teaching without going into a discussion
of the subject.

On the subject of Purgatory there were, to speak generally, two schools
of opinion; the Greek, which contemplated a trial of fire at the last
day through which all were to pass; and the African, resembling more
nearly the present doctrine of the Roman Church. And so there were two
principal views of Original Sin, the Greek and the African or Latin. Of
the Greek, the judgment of Hooker is well known, though it must not be
taken in the letter: "The heresy of freewill was a millstone about those
Pelagians' neck; shall we therefore give sentence of death inevitable
against all those Fathers in the Greek Church which, being mispersuaded,
died in the error of freewill?"[22:1] Bishop Taylor, arguing for an
opposite doctrine, bears a like testimony: "Original Sin," he says, "as
it is at this day commonly explicated, was not the doctrine of the
primitive Church; but when Pelagius had puddled the stream, St. Austin
was so angry that he stamped and disturbed it more. And truly . . I do
not think that the gentlemen that urged against me St. Austin's opinion
do well consider that I profess myself to follow those Fathers who were
before him; and whom St. Austin did forsake, as I do him, in the
question."[22:2] The same is asserted or allowed by Jansenius, Petavius,
and Walch,[22:3] men of such different schools that we may surely take
their agreement as a proof of the fact. A late writer, after going
through the testimonies of the Fathers one by one, comes to the
conclusion, first, that "the Greek Church in no point favoured
Augustine, except in teaching that from Adam's sin came death, and,
(after the time of Methodius,) an extraordinary and unnatural sensuality
also;" next, that "the Latin Church affirmed, in addition, that a
corrupt and contaminated soul, and that, by generation, was carried on
to his posterity;"[22:4] and, lastly, that neither Greeks nor Latins
held the doctrine of imputation. It may be observed, in addition, that,
in spite of the forcible teaching of St. Paul on the subject, the
doctrine of Original Sin appears neither in the Apostles' nor the Nicene


One additional specimen shall be given as a sample of many others:--I
betake myself to one of our altars to receive the Blessed Eucharist; I
have no doubt whatever on my mind about the Gift which that Sacrament
contains; I confess to myself my belief, and I go through the steps on
which it is assured to me. "The Presence of Christ is here, for It
follows upon Consecration; and Consecration is the prerogative of
Priests; and Priests are made by Ordination; and Ordination comes in
direct line from the Apostles. Whatever be our other misfortunes, every
link in our chain is safe; we have the Apostolic Succession, we have a
right form of consecration: therefore we are blessed with the great
Gift." Here the question rises in me, "Who told you about that Gift?" I
answer, "I have learned it from the Fathers: I believe the Real Presence
because they bear witness to it. St. Ignatius calls it 'the medicine of
immortality:' St. Irenæus says that 'our flesh becomes incorrupt, and
partakes of life, and has the hope of the resurrection,' as 'being
nourished from the Lord's Body and Blood;' that the Eucharist 'is made
up of two things, an earthly and an heavenly:'[23:1] perhaps Origen, and
perhaps Magnes, after him, say that It is not a type of our Lord's Body,
but His Body: and St. Cyprian uses language as fearful as can be spoken,
of those who profane it. I cast my lot with them, I believe as they."
Thus I reply, and then the thought comes upon me a second time, "And do
not the same ancient Fathers bear witness to another doctrine, which
you disown? Are you not as a hypocrite, listening to them when you will,
and deaf when you will not? How are you casting your lot with the
Saints, when you go but half-way with them? For of whether of the two do
they speak the more frequently, of the Real Presence in the Eucharist,
or of the Pope's supremacy? You accept the lesser evidence, you reject
the greater."


In truth, scanty as the Ante-nicene notices may be of the Papal
Supremacy, they are both more numerous and more definite than the
adducible testimonies in favour of the Real Presence. The testimonies to
the latter are confined to a few passages such as those just quoted. On
the other hand, of a passage in St. Justin, Bishop Kaye remarks, "Le
Nourry infers that Justin maintained the doctrine of Transubstantiation;
it might in my opinion be more plausibly urged in favour of
Consubstantiation, since Justin calls the consecrated elements Bread and
Wine, though not common bread and wine.[24:1] . . . We may therefore
conclude that, when he calls them the Body and Blood of Christ, he
speaks figuratively." "Clement," observes the same author, "says that
the Scripture calls wine a mystic _symbol_ of the holy blood. . . .
Clement gives various interpretations of Christ's expressions in John
vi. respecting His flesh and blood; but in no instance does he interpret
them literally. . . . His notion seems to have been that, by partaking
of the bread and wine in the Eucharist, the soul of the believer is
united to the Spirit, and that by this union the principle of
immortality is imparted to the flesh."[24:2] "It has been suggested by
some," says Waterland, "that Tertullian understood John vi. merely of
faith, or doctrine, or spiritual actions; and it is strenuously denied
by others." After quoting the passage, he adds, "All that one can
justly gather from this confused passage is that Tertullian interpreted
the bread of life in John vi. of the Word, which he sometimes makes to
be vocal, and sometimes substantial, blending the ideas in a very
perplexed manner; so that he is no clear authority for construing John
vi. of doctrines, &c. All that is certain is that he supposes the Word
made flesh, the Word incarnate to be the heavenly bread spoken of
in that chapter."[25:1] "Origen's general observation relating to
that chapter is, that it must not be literally, but figuratively
understood."[25:2] Again, "It is plain enough that Eusebius followed
Origen in this matter, and that both of them favoured the same mystical
or allegorical construction; whether constantly and uniformly I need not
say."[25:3] I will but add the incidental testimony afforded on a late
occasion:--how far the Anglican doctrine of the Eucharist depends on the
times before the Nicene Council, how far on the times after it, may be
gathered from the circumstance that, when a memorable Sermon[25:4] was
published on the subject, out of about one hundred and forty passages
from the Fathers appended in the notes, not in formal proof, but in
general illustration, only fifteen were taken from Ante-nicene writers.

With such evidence, the Ante-nicene testimonies which may be cited in
behalf of the authority of the Holy See, need not fear a comparison.
Faint they may be one by one, but at least we may count seventeen of
them, and they are various, and are drawn from many times and countries,
and thereby serve to illustrate each other, and form a body of proof.
Whatever objections may be made to this or that particular fact, and I
do not think any valid ones can be raised, still, on the whole, I
consider that a cumulative argument rises from them in favour of the
ecumenical and the doctrinal authority of Rome, stronger than any
argument which can be drawn from the same period for the doctrine of the
Real Presence. I shall have occasion to enumerate them in the fourth
chapter of this Essay.


If it be said that the Real Presence appears, by the Liturgies of the
fourth or fifth century, to have been the doctrine of the earlier, since
those very forms probably existed from the first in Divine worship, this
is doubtless an important truth; but then it is true also that the
writers of the fourth and fifth centuries fearlessly assert, or frankly
allow that the prerogatives of Rome were derived from apostolic times,
and that because it was the See of St. Peter.

Moreover, if the resistance of St. Cyprian and Firmilian to the Church
of Rome, in the question of baptism by heretics, be urged as an argument
against her primitive authority, or the earlier resistance of Polycrates
of Ephesus, let it be considered, first, whether all authority does not
necessarily lead to resistance; next, whether St. Cyprian's own
doctrine, which is in favour of Rome, is not more weighty than his act,
which is against her; thirdly, whether he was not already in error in
the main question under discussion, and Firmilian also; and lastly,
which is the chief point here, whether, in like manner, we may
not object on the other hand against the Real Presence the words
of Tertullian, who explains, "This is my Body," by "a figure of
my Body," and of Origen, who speaks of "our drinking Christ's
Blood not only in the rite of the Sacraments, but also when we
receive His discourses,"[26:1] and says that "that Bread which
God the Word acknowledges as His Body is the Word which nourishes
souls,"[26:2]--passages which admit of a Catholic interpretation when
the Catholic doctrine is once proved, but which _primâ facie_ run
counter to that doctrine.

It does not seem possible, then, to avoid the conclusion that, whatever
be the proper key for harmonizing the records and documents of the early
and later Church, and true as the dictum of Vincentius must be
considered in the abstract, and possible as its application might be in
his own age, when he might almost ask the primitive centuries for their
testimony, it is hardly available now, or effective of any satisfactory
result. The solution it offers is as difficult as the original problem.


Another hypothesis for accounting for a want of accord between the early
and the late aspects of Christianity is that of the _Disciplina Arcani_,
put forward on the assumption that there has been no variation in the
teaching of the Church from first to last. It is maintained that
doctrines which are associated with the later ages of the Church were
really in the Church from the first, but not publicly taught, and that
for various reasons: as, for the sake of reverence, that sacred subjects
might not be profaned by the heathen; and for the sake of catechumens,
that they might not be oppressed or carried away by a sudden
communication of the whole circle of revealed truth. And indeed the fact
of this concealment can hardly be denied, in whatever degree it took the
shape of a definite rule, which might vary with persons and places. That
it existed even as a rule, as regards the Sacraments, seems to be
confessed on all hands. That it existed in other respects, as a
practice, is plain from the nature of the case, and from the writings of
the Apologists. Minucius Felix and Arnobius, in controversy with Pagans,
imply a denial that then the Christians used altars; yet Tertullian
speaks expressly of the _Ara Dei_ in the Church. What can we say, but
that the Apologists deny altars _in the sense_ in which they ridicule
them; or, that they deny that altars _such as_ the Pagan altars were
tolerated by Christians? And, in like manner, Minucius allows that there
were no temples among Christians; yet they are distinctly recognized in
the edicts of the Dioclesian era, and are known to have existed at a
still earlier date. It is the tendency of every dominant system, such as
the Paganism of the Ante-nicene centuries, to force its opponents into
the most hostile and jealous attitude, from the apprehension which they
naturally feel, lest if they acted otherwise, in those points in which
they approximate towards it, they should be misinterpreted and overborne
by its authority. The very fault now found with clergymen of the
Anglican Church, who wish to conform their practices to her rubrics, and
their doctrines to her divines of the seventeenth century, is, that,
whether they mean it or no, whether legitimately or no, still, in matter
of fact, they will be sanctioning and encouraging the religion of Rome,
in which there are similar doctrines and practices, more definite and
more influential; so that, at any rate, it is inexpedient at the moment
to attempt what is sure to be mistaken. That is, they are required to
exercise a _disciplina arcani_; and a similar reserve was inevitable on
the part of the Catholic Church, at a time when priests and altars
and rites all around it were devoted to malignant and incurable
superstitions. It would be wrong indeed to deny, but it was a duty to
withhold, the ceremonial of Christianity; and Apologists might be
sometimes tempted to deny absolutely what at furthest could only be
denied under conditions. An idolatrous Paganism tended to repress
the externals of Christianity, as, at this day, the presence of
Protestantism is said to repress, though for another reason, the
exhibition of the Roman Catholic religion.

On various grounds, then, it is certain that portions of the Church
system were held back in primitive times, and of course this fact goes
some way to account for that apparent variation and growth of doctrine,
which embarrasses us when we would consult history for the true idea of
Christianity; yet it is no key to the whole difficulty, as we find it,
for obvious reasons:--because the variations continue beyond the time
when it is conceivable that the discipline was in force, and because
they manifest themselves on a law, not abruptly, but by a visible growth
which has persevered up to this time without any sign of its coming to
an end.[29:1]


The following Essay is directed towards a solution of the difficulty
which has been stated,--the difficulty, as far as it exists, which lies
in the way of our using in controversy the testimony of our most natural
informant concerning the doctrine and worship of Christianity, viz. the
history of eighteen hundred years. The view on which it is written has
at all times, perhaps, been implicitly adopted by theologians, and, I
believe, has recently been illustrated by several distinguished writers
of the continent, such as De Maistre and Möhler: viz. that the increase
and expansion of the Christian Creed and Ritual, and the variations
which have attended the process in the case of individual writers and
Churches, are the necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which
takes possession of the intellect and heart, and has had any wide or
extended dominion; that, from the nature of the human mind, time is
necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and
that the highest and most wonderful truths, though communicated to the
world once for all by inspired teachers, could not be comprehended all
at once by the recipients, but, as being received and transmitted by
minds not inspired and through media which were human, have required
only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation. This
may be called the _Theory of Development of Doctrine_; and, before
proceeding to treat of it, one remark may be in place.

It is undoubtedly an hypothesis to account for a difficulty; but such
too are the various explanations given by astronomers from Ptolemy to
Newton of the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies, and it is as
unphilosophical on that account to object to the one as to object to the
other. Nor is it more reasonable to express surprise, that at this time
of day a theory is necessary, granting for argument's sake that the
theory is novel, than to have directed a similar wonder in disparagement
of the theory of gravitation, or the Plutonian theory in geology.
Doubtless, the theory of the Secret and the theory of doctrinal
Developments are expedients, and so is the dictum of Vincentius; so is
the art of grammar or the use of the quadrant; it is an expedient to
enable us to solve what has now become a necessary and an anxious
problem. For three hundred years the documents and the facts of
Christianity have been exposed to a jealous scrutiny; works have been
judged spurious which once were received without a question; facts have
been discarded or modified which were once first principles in argument;
new facts and new principles have been brought to light; philosophical
views and polemical discussions of various tendencies have been
maintained with more or less success. Not only has the relative
situation of controversies and theologies altered, but infidelity itself
is in a different,--I am obliged to say in a more hopeful position,--as
regards Christianity. The facts of Revealed Religion, though in their
substance unaltered, present a less compact and orderly front to the
attacks of its enemies now than formerly, and allow of the introduction
of new inquiries and theories concerning its sources and its rise. The
state of things is not as it was, when an appeal lay to the supposed
works of the Areopagite, or to the primitive Decretals, or to St.
Dionysius's answers to Paul, or to the Cœna Domini of St. Cyprian.
The assailants of dogmatic truth have got the start of its adherents of
whatever Creed; philosophy is completing what criticism has begun; and
apprehensions are not unreasonably excited lest we should have a new
world to conquer before we have weapons for the warfare. Already
infidelity has its views and conjectures, on which it arranges the facts
of ecclesiastical history; and it is sure to consider the absence of any
antagonist theory as an evidence of the reality of its own. That the
hypothesis, here to be adopted, accounts not only for the Athanasian
Creed, but for the Creed of Pope Pius, is no fault of those who adopt
it. No one has power over the issues of his principles; we cannot manage
our argument, and have as much of it as we please and no more. An
argument is needed, unless Christianity is to abandon the province of
argument; and those who find fault with the explanation here offered of
its historical phenomena will find it their duty to provide one for

And as no special aim at Roman Catholic doctrine need be supposed to
have given a direction to the inquiry, so neither can a reception of
that doctrine be immediately based on its results. It would be the work
of a life to apply the Theory of Developments so carefully to the
writings of the Fathers, and to the history of controversies and
councils, as thereby to vindicate the reasonableness of every decision
of Rome; much less can such an undertaking be imagined by one who, in
the middle of his days, is beginning life again. Thus much, however,
might be gained even from an Essay like the present, an explanation of
so many of the reputed corruptions, doctrinal and practical, of Rome, as
might serve as a fair ground for trusting her in parallel cases where
the investigation had not been pursued.


[9:1] Church of the Fathers [Hist. Sketches, vol. i. p. 418].

[12:1] Proph. Office [Via Media, vol. i. pp. 55, 56].

[13:1] [Ibid. p. 181.]

[13:2] [British Critic, July, 1836, p. 193. Vid. supr. vol. i. p. 130.]

[16:1] This of course has been disputed, as is the case with almost all
facts which bear upon the decision of controversies. I shall not think
it necessary to notice the possibility or the fact of objections on
questions upon which the world may now be said to be agreed; _e. g._ the
arianizing tone of Eusebius.

[16:2] σχεδὸν ταυτησὶ τῆς νῦν περιθυλλουμένης ἀσεβείας, τῆς κατὰ τὸ Ἀνόμοιον λέγω, οὗτος ἐστὶν,
ὅσα γε ἡμεῖς ἴσμεν, ὁ πρῶτος ἀνθρώποις τὰ σπέρματα παρασχών. Ep. ix. 2.

[16:3] Bull, Defens. F. N. ii. 12, § 6.

[17:1] "The authors who make the generation temporary, and speak not
expressly of any other, are these following: Justin, Athenagoras,
Theophilus, Tatian, Tertullian, and Hippolytus."--_Waterland_, vol. i.
part 2, p. 104.

[17:2] "Levia sunt," says Maran in his defence, "quæ in Sanctissimam
Trinitatem hic liber peccare dicitur, paulo graviora quæ in mysterium
Incarnationis."--_Div. Jes. Christ._ p. 527. Shortly after, p. 530, "In
tertiâ oratione nonnulla legimus Incarnationem Domini spectantia, quæ
subabsurdè dicta fateor, nego impiè cogitata."

[17:3] Bishop Bull, who is tender towards him, allows, "Ut quod res est
dicam, cum Valentinianis hic et reliquo gnosticorum grege aliquatenus
locutus est Tertullianus; in re ipsâ tamen cum Catholicis omninò
sensit."--_Defens. F. N._ iii. 10, § 15.

[18:1] Adv. Praxeam.

[18:2] Defens. F. N. iv. 3, § 1.

[18:3] Basil, ed. Ben. vol. 3, p. xcvi.

[19:1] Ante-nicene Test, to the Trinity, p. 69.

[20:1] "Quia et Pater Deus est, et judex Deus est, non tamen ideo Pater
et judex semper, quia Deus semper. Nam nec Pater potuit esse ante
Filium, nec judex ante delictum. Fuit autem tempus, cum et delictum et
Filius non fuit, quod judicem, et qui Patrem Dominum faceret."--_Contr.
Herm._ 3.

[20:2] Vid. infra, towards the end of the Essay, ch. x., where more will
be said on the passage.

[22:1] Of Justification, 26.

[22:2] Works, vol. ix. p. 396.

[22:3] "Quamvis igitur quam maximè fallantur Pelagiani, quum asserant,
peccatum originale ex Augustini profluxisse ingenio, antiquam vero
ecclesiam illud plane nescivisse; diffiteri tamen nemo potest, apud
Græcos patres imprimis inveniri loca, quæ Pelagianismo favere videntur.
Hinc et C. Jansenius, 'Græci,' inquit, 'nisi caute legantur et
intelligantur, præbere possunt occasionem errori Pelagiano;' et D.
Petavius dicit, 'Græci originalis fere criminis raram, nec disertam,
mentionem scriptis suis attigerunt.'"--_Walch_, _Miscell. Sacr._ p. 607.

[22:4] Horn, Comment. de Pecc. Orig. 1801, p. 98.

[23:1] Hær. iv. 18, § 5.

[24:1] Justin Martyr, ch. 4.

[24:2] Clem. Alex. ch. 11.

[25:1] Works, vol. vii. p. 118-120.

[25:2] Ibid. p. 121.

[25:3] Ibid. p. 127.

[25:4] [Dr. Pusey's University Sermon of 1843.]

[26:1] Numer. Hom. xvi. 9.

[26:2] Interp. Com. in Matt. 85.

[29:1] [_Vid._ Apolog., p. 198, and Difficulties of Angl. vol. i. xii.





It is the characteristic of our minds to be ever engaged in passing
judgment on the things which come before us. No sooner do we apprehend
than we judge: we allow nothing to stand by itself: we compare,
contrast, abstract, generalize, connect, adjust, classify: and we view
all our knowledge in the associations with which these processes have
invested it.

Of the judgments thus made, which become aspects in our minds of the
things which meet us, some are mere opinions which come and go, or which
remain with us only till an accident displaces them, whatever be the
influence which they exercise meanwhile. Others are firmly fixed in our
minds, with or without good reason, and have a hold upon us, whether
they relate to matters of fact, or to principles of conduct, or are
views of life and the world, or are prejudices, imaginations, or
convictions. Many of them attach to one and the same object, which is
thus variously viewed, not only by various minds, but by the same. They
sometimes lie in such near relation, that each implies the others; some
are only not inconsistent with each other, in that they have a common
origin: some, as being actually incompatible with each other, are, one
or other, falsely associated in our minds with their object, and in any
case they may be nothing more than ideas, which we mistake for things.

Thus Judaism is an idea which once was objective, and Gnosticism is an
idea which was never so. Both of them have various aspects: those of
Judaism were such as monotheism, a certain ethical discipline, a
ministration of divine vengeance, a preparation for Christianity: those
of the Gnostic idea are such as the doctrine of two principles, that of
emanation, the intrinsic malignity of matter, the inculpability of
sensual indulgence, or the guilt of every pleasure of sense, of which
last two one or other must be in the Gnostic a false aspect and
subjective only.


The idea which represents an object or supposed object is commensurate
with the sum total of its possible aspects, however they may vary in the
separate consciousness of individuals; and in proportion to the variety
of aspects under which it presents itself to various minds is its force
and depth, and the argument for its reality. Ordinarily an idea is not
brought home to the intellect as objective except through this variety;
like bodily substances, which are not apprehended except under the
clothing of their properties and results, and which admit of being
walked round, and surveyed on opposite sides, and in different
perspectives, and in contrary lights, in evidence of their reality. And,
as views of a material object may be taken from points so remote or so
opposed, that they seem at first sight incompatible, and especially as
their shadows will be disproportionate, or even monstrous, and yet all
these anomalies will disappear and all these contrarieties be adjusted,
on ascertaining the point of vision or the surface of projection in each
case; so also all the aspects of an idea are capable of coalition, and
of a resolution into the object to which it belongs; and the _primâ
facie_ dissimilitude of its aspects becomes, when explained, an argument
for its substantiveness and integrity, and their multiplicity for its
originality and power.


There is no one aspect deep enough to exhaust the contents of a real
idea, no one term or proposition which will serve to define it; though
of course one representation of it is more just and exact than another,
and though when an idea is very complex, it is allowable, for the sake
of convenience, to consider its distinct aspects as if separate ideas.
Thus, with all our intimate knowledge of animal life and of the
structure of particular animals, we have not arrived at a true
definition of any one of them, but are forced to enumerate properties
and accidents by way of description. Nor can we inclose in a formula
that intellectual fact, or system of thought, which we call the Platonic
philosophy, or that historical phenomenon of doctrine and conduct, which
we call the heresy of Montanus or of Manes. Again, if Protestantism were
said to lie in its theory of private judgment, and Lutheranism in its
doctrine of justification, this indeed would be an approximation to the
truth; but it is plain that to argue or to act as if the one or the
other aspect were a sufficient account of those forms of religion
severally, would be a serious mistake. Sometimes an attempt is made to
determine the "leading idea," as it has been called, of Christianity, an
ambitious essay as employed on a supernatural work, when, even as
regards the visible creation and the inventions of man, such a task is
beyond us. Thus its one idea has been said by some to be the restoration
of our fallen race, by others philanthropy, by others the tidings of
immortality, or the spirituality of true religious service, or the
salvation of the elect, or mental liberty, or the union of the soul with
God. If, indeed, it is only thereby meant to use one or other of these
as a central idea for convenience, in order to group others around it,
no fault can be found with such a proceeding: and in this sense I should
myself call the Incarnation the central aspect of Christianity, out of
which the three main aspects of its teaching take their rise, the
sacramental, the hierarchical, and the ascetic. But one aspect of
Revelation must not be allowed to exclude or to obscure another; and
Christianity is dogmatical, devotional, practical all at once; it is
esoteric and exoteric; it is indulgent and strict; it is light and dark;
it is love, and it is fear.


When an idea, whether real or not, is of a nature to arrest and possess
the mind, it may be said to have life, that is, to live in the mind
which is its recipient. Thus mathematical ideas, real as they are, can
hardly properly be called living, at least ordinarily. But, when some
great enunciation, whether true or false, about human nature, or present
good, or government, or duty, or religion, is carried forward into the
public throng of men and draws attention, then it is not merely received
passively in this or that form into many minds, but it becomes an active
principle within them, leading them to an ever-new contemplation of
itself, to an application of it in various directions, and a propagation
of it on every side. Such is the doctrine of the divine right of kings,
or of the rights of man, or of the anti-social bearings of a priesthood,
or utilitarianism, or free trade, or the duty of benevolent enterprises,
or the philosophy of Zeno or Epicurus, doctrines which are of a nature
to attract and influence, and have so far a _primâ facie_ reality, that
they may be looked at on many sides and strike various minds very
variously. Let one such idea get possession of the popular mind, or the
mind of any portion of the community, and it is not difficult to
understand what will be the result. At first men will not fully realize
what it is that moves them, and will express and explain themselves
inadequately. There will be a general agitation of thought, and an
action of mind upon mind. There will be a time of confusion, when
conceptions and misconceptions are in conflict, and it is uncertain
whether anything is to come of the idea at all, or which view of it is
to get the start of the others. New lights will be brought to bear upon
the original statements of the doctrine put forward; judgments and
aspects will accumulate. After a while some definite teaching emerges;
and, as time proceeds, one view will be modified or expanded by another,
and then combined with a third; till the idea to which these various
aspects belong, will be to each mind separately what at first it was
only to all together. It will be surveyed too in its relation to other
doctrines or facts, to other natural laws or established customs, to the
varying circumstances of times and places, to other religions, polities,
philosophies, as the case may be. How it stands affected towards other
systems, how it affects them, how far it may be made to combine with
them, how far it tolerates them, when it interferes with them, will be
gradually wrought out. It will be interrogated and criticized by
enemies, and defended by well-wishers. The multitude of opinions formed
concerning it in these respects and many others will be collected,
compared, sorted, sifted, selected, rejected, gradually attached to it,
separated from it, in the minds of individuals and of the community. It
will, in proportion to its native vigour and subtlety, introduce itself
into the framework and details of social life, changing public opinion,
and strengthening or undermining the foundations of established order.
Thus in time it will have grown into an ethical code, or into a system
of government, or into a theology, or into a ritual, according to its
capabilities: and this body of thought, thus laboriously gained, will
after all be little more than the proper representative of one idea,
being in substance what that idea meant from the first, its complete
image as seen in a combination of diversified aspects, with the
suggestions and corrections of many minds, and the illustration of many


This process, whether it be longer or shorter in point of time, by which
the aspects of an idea are brought into consistency and form, I call its
development, being the germination and maturation of some truth or
apparent truth on a large mental field. On the other hand this process
will not be a development, unless the assemblage of aspects, which
constitute its ultimate shape, really belongs to the idea from which
they start. A republic, for instance, is not a development from a pure
monarchy, though it may follow upon it; whereas the Greek "tyrant" may
be considered as included in the idea of a democracy. Moreover a
development will have this characteristic, that, its action being in the
busy scene of human life, it cannot progress at all without cutting
across, and thereby destroying or modifying and incorporating with
itself existing modes of thinking and operating. The development then of
an idea is not like an investigation worked out on paper, in which each
successive advance is a pure evolution from a foregoing, but it is
carried on through and by means of communities of men and their leaders
and guides; and it employs their minds as its instruments, and depends
upon them, while it uses them. And so, as regards existing opinions,
principles, measures, and institutions of the community which it has
invaded; it developes by establishing relations between itself and
them; it employs itself, in giving them a new meaning and direction, in
creating what may be called a jurisdiction over them, in throwing off
whatever in them it cannot assimilate. It grows when it incorporates,
and its identity is found, not in isolation, but in continuity and
sovereignty. This it is that imparts to the history both of states and
of religions, its specially turbulent and polemical character. Such is
the explanation of the wranglings, whether of schools or of parliaments.
It is the warfare of ideas under their various aspects striving for the
mastery, each of them enterprising, engrossing, imperious, more or less
incompatible with the rest, and rallying followers or rousing foes,
according as it acts upon the faith, the prejudices, or the interest of
parties or classes.


Moreover, an idea not only modifies, but is modified, or at least
influenced, by the state of things in which it is carried out, and is
dependent in various ways on the circumstances which surround it. Its
development proceeds quickly or slowly, as it may be; the order of
succession in its separate stages is variable; it shows differently in a
small sphere of action and in an extended; it may be interrupted,
retarded, mutilated, distorted, by external violence; it may be
enfeebled by the effort of ridding itself of domestic foes; it may be
impeded and swayed or even absorbed by counter energetic ideas; it may
be coloured by the received tone of thought into which it comes, or
depraved by the intrusion of foreign principles, or at length shattered
by the development of some original fault within it.


But whatever be the risk of corruption from intercourse with the world
around, such a risk must be encountered if a great idea is duly to be
understood, and much more if it is to be fully exhibited. It is elicited
and expanded by trial, and battles into perfection and supremacy. Nor
does it escape the collision of opinion even in its earlier years, nor
does it remain truer to itself, and with a better claim to be considered
one and the same, though externally protected from vicissitude and
change. It is indeed sometimes said that the stream is clearest near the
spring. Whatever use may fairly be made of this image, it does not apply
to the history of a philosophy or belief, which on the contrary is more
equable, and purer, and stronger, when its bed has become deep, and
broad, and full. It necessarily rises out of an existing state of
things, and for a time savours of the soil. Its vital element needs
disengaging from what is foreign and temporary, and is employed in
efforts after freedom which become more vigorous and hopeful as its
years increase. Its beginnings are no measure of its capabilities, nor
of its scope. At first no one knows what it is, or what it is worth. It
remains perhaps for a time quiescent; it tries, as it were, its limbs,
and proves the ground under it, and feels its way. From time to time it
makes essays which fail, and are in consequence abandoned. It seems in
suspense which way to go; it wavers, and at length strikes out in one
definite direction. In time it enters upon strange territory; points of
controversy alter their bearing; parties rise and fall around it;
dangers and hopes appear in new relations; and old principles reappear
under new forms. It changes with them in order to remain the same. In a
higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and
to be perfect is to have changed often.



To attempt an accurate analysis or complete enumeration of the processes
of thought, whether speculative or practical, which come under the
notion of development, exceeds the pretensions of an Essay like the
present; but, without some general view of the various mental exercises
which go by the name we shall have no security against confusion in our
reasoning and necessary exposure to criticism.

1. First, then, it must be borne in mind that the word is commonly used,
and is used here, in three senses indiscriminately, from defect of our
language; on the one hand for the process of development, on the other
for the result; and again either generally for a development, true or
not true, (that is, faithful or unfaithful to the idea from which it
started,) or exclusively for a development deserving the name. A false
or unfaithful development is more properly to be called a corruption.

2. Next, it is plain that _mathematical_ developments, that is, the
system of truths drawn out from mathematical definitions or equations,
do not fall under our present subject, though altogether analogous to
it. There can be no corruption in such developments, because they are
conducted on strict demonstration; and the conclusions in which they
terminate, being necessary, cannot be declensions from the original

3. Nor, of course, do _physical_ developments, as the growth of animal
or vegetable nature, come into consideration here; excepting that,
together with mathematical, they may be taken as illustrations of the
general subject to which we have to direct our attention.

4. Nor have we to consider _material_ developments, which, though
effected by human contrivance, are still physical; as the development,
as it is called, of the national resources. We speak, for instance, of
Ireland, the United States, or the valley of the Indus, as admitting of
a great development; by which we mean, that those countries have fertile
tracts, or abundant products, or broad and deep rivers, or central
positions for commerce, or capacious and commodious harbours, the
materials and instruments of wealth, and these at present turned to
insufficient account. Development in this case will proceed by
establishing marts, cutting canals, laying down railroads, erecting
factories, forming docks, and similar works, by which the natural riches
of the country may be made to yield the largest return and to exert the
greatest influence. In this sense, art is the development of nature,
that is, its adaptation to the purposes of utility and beauty, the human
intellect being the developing power.


5. When society and its various classes and interests are the
subject-matter of the ideas which are in operation, the development may
be called _political_; as we see it in the growth of States or the
changes of a Constitution. Barbarians descend into southern regions from
cupidity, and their warrant is the sword: this is no intellectual
process, nor is it the mode of development exhibited in civilized
communities. Where civilization exists, reason, in some shape or other,
is the incentive or the pretence of development. When an empire
enlarges, it is on the call of its allies, or for the balance of power,
or from the necessity of a demonstration of strength, or from a fear for
its frontiers. It lies uneasily in its territory, it is ill-shaped, it
has unreal boundary-lines, deficient communication between its principal
points, or defenceless or turbulent neighbours. Thus, of old time,
Eubœa was necessary for Athens, and Cythera for Sparta; and Augustus
left his advice, as a legacy, to confine the Empire between the
Atlantic, the Rhine and Danube, the Euphrates, and the Arabian and
African deserts. In this day, we hear of the Rhine being the natural
boundary of France, and the Indus of our Eastern empire; and we predict
that, in the event of a war, Prussia will change her outlines in the map
of Europe. The development is material; but an idea gives unity and
force to its movement.

And so to take a case of national politics, a late writer remarks of the
Parliament of 1628-29, in its contest with Charles, that, so far from
encroaching on the just powers of a limited monarch, it never hinted at
the securities which were necessary for its measures. However, "twelve
years more of repeated aggressions," he adds, "taught the Long
Parliament what a few sagacious men might perhaps have already
suspected; that they must recover more of their ancient constitution,
from oblivion; that they must sustain its partial weakness by new
securities; that, in order to render the existence of monarchy
compatible with that of freedom, they must not only strip it of all it
had usurped, but of something that was its own."[43:1] Whatever be the
worth of this author's theory, his facts or representations are an
illustration of a political development.

Again, at the present day, that Ireland should have a population of one
creed, and a Church of another, is felt to be a political arrangement so
unsatisfactory, that all parties seem to agree that either the
population will develope in power or the Establishment in influence.

Political developments, though really the growth of ideas, are often
capricious and irregular from the nature of their subject-matter. They
are influenced by the character of sovereigns, the rise and fall of
statesmen, the fate of battles, and the numberless vicissitudes of the
world. "Perhaps the Greeks would be still involved in the heresy of the
Monophysites," says Gibbon, "if the Emperor's horse had not fortunately
stumbled. Theodosius expired, his orthodox sister succeeded to the


Again, it often happens, or generally, that various distinct and
incompatible elements are found in the origin or infancy of politics, or
indeed of philosophies, some of which must be ejected before any
satisfactory developments, if any, can take place. And they are commonly
ejected by the gradual growth of the stronger. The reign of Charles the
First, just referred to, supplies an instance in point.

Sometimes discordant ideas are for a time connected and concealed by a
common profession or name. Such is the case of coalitions in politics
and comprehensions in religion, of which commonly no good is to be
expected. Such is an ordinary function of committees and boards, and the
sole aim of conciliations and concessions, to make contraries look the
same, and to secure an outward agreement where there is no other unity.

Again, developments, reactions, reforms, revolutions, and changes of
various kinds are mixed together in the actual history of states, as of
philosophical sects, so as to make it very difficult to exhibit them in
any scientific analysis.

Often the intellectual process is detached from the practical, and
posterior to it. Thus it was after Elizabeth had established the
Reformation that Hooker laid down his theory of Church and State as one
and the same, differing only in idea; and, after the Revolution and its
political consequences, that Warburton wrote his "Alliance." And now
again a new theory is needed for the constitutional lawyer, in order to
reconcile the existing political state of things with the just claims
of religion. And so, again, in Parliamentary conflicts, men first come
to their conclusions by the external pressure of events or the force of
principles, they do not know how; then they have to speak, and they look
about for arguments: and a pamphlet is published on the subject in
debate, or an article appears in a Review, to furnish common-places for
the many.

Other developments, though political, are strictly subjected and
consequent to the ideas of which they are the exhibitions. Thus Locke's
philosophy was a real guide, not a mere defence of the Revolution era,
operating forcibly upon Church and Government in and after his day. Such
too were the theories which preceded the overthrow of the old regime in
France and other countries at the end of the last century.

Again, perhaps there are polities founded on no ideas at all, but on
mere custom, as among the Asiatics.


6. In other developments the intellectual character is so prominent that
they may even be called _logical_, as in the Anglican doctrine of the
Royal Supremacy, which has been created in the courts of law, not in the
cabinet or on the field. Hence it is carried out with a consistency and
minute application which the history of constitutions cannot exhibit. It
does not only exist in statutes, or in articles, or in oaths, it is
realized in details: as in the _congé d'élire_ and letter-missive on
appointment of a Bishop;--in the forms observed in Privy Council on the
issuing of State Prayers;--in certain arrangements observed in the
Prayer-book, where the universal or abstract Church precedes the King,
but the national or really existing body follows him; in printing his
name in large capitals, while the Holiest Names are in ordinary type,
and in fixing his arms in churches instead of the Crucifix; moreover,
perhaps, in placing "sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion," before
"false doctrine, heresy, and schism" in the Litany.

Again, when some new philosophy or its instalments are introduced into
the measures of the Legislature, or into the concessions made to a
political party, or into commercial or agricultural policy, it is often
said, "We have not seen the end of this;" "It is an earnest of future
concessions;" "Our children will see." We feel that it has unknown
bearings and issues.

The admission of Jews to municipal offices has lately been
defended[46:1] on the ground that it is the introduction of no new
principle, but a development of one already received; that its great
premisses have been decided long since; and that the present age has but
to draw the conclusion; that it is not open to us to inquire what ought
to be done in the abstract, since there is no ideal model for the
infallible guidance of nations; that change is only a question of time,
and that there is a time for all things; that the application of
principles ought not to go beyond the actual case, neither preceding nor
coming after an imperative demand; that in point of fact Jews have
lately been chosen for offices, and that in point of principle the law
cannot refuse to legitimate such elections.


7. Another class of developments may be called _historical_; being the
gradual formation of opinion concerning persons, facts, and events.
Judgments, which were at one time confined to a few, at length spread
through a community, and attain general reception by the accumulation
and concurrence of testimony. Thus some authoritative accounts die away;
others gain a footing, and are ultimately received as truths. Courts of
law, Parliamentary proceedings, newspapers, letters and other
posthumous documents, the industry of historians and biographers, and
the lapse of years which dissipates parties and prejudices, are in this
day the instruments of such development. Accordingly the Poet makes
Truth the daughter of Time.[47:1] Thus at length approximations are made
to a right appreciation of transactions and characters. History cannot
be written except in an after-age. Thus by development the Canon of the
New Testament has been formed. Thus public men are content to leave
their reputation to posterity; great reactions take place in opinion;
nay, sometimes men outlive opposition and obloquy. Thus Saints are
canonized in the Church, long after they have entered into their rest.


8. _Ethical_ developments are not properly matter for argument and
controversy, but are natural and personal, substituting what is
congruous, desirable, pious, appropriate, generous, for strictly logical
inference. Bishop Butler supplies us with a remarkable instance in the
beginning of the Second Part of his "Analogy." As principles imply
applications, and general propositions include particulars, so, he tells
us, do certain relations imply correlative duties, and certain objects
demand certain acts and feelings. He observes that, even though we were
not enjoined to pay divine honours to the Second and Third Persons of
the Holy Trinity, what is predicated of Them in Scripture would be an
abundant warrant, an indirect command, nay, a ground in reason, for
doing so. "Does not," he asks, "the duty of religious regards to both
these Divine Persons as immediately arise, to the view of reason, out of
the very nature of these offices and relations, as the inward good-will
and kind intention which we owe to our fellow-creatures arises out of
the common relations between us and them?" He proceeds to say that he is
speaking of the inward religious regards of reverence, honour, love,
trust, gratitude, fear, hope. "In what external manner this inward
worship is to be expressed, is a matter of pure revealed command; . .
but the worship, the internal worship itself, to the Son and Holy Ghost,
is no further matter of pure revealed command than as the relations they
stand in to us are matter of pure revelation; for, the relations being
known, the obligations to such internal worship are obligations of
reason, arising out of those relations themselves." Here is a
development of doctrine into worship, of which parallel instances are
obviously to be found in the Church of Rome.


A development, converse to that which Butler speaks of, must next be
mentioned. As certain objects excite certain emotions and sentiments, so
do sentiments imply objects and duties. Thus conscience, the existence
of which we cannot deny, is a proof of the doctrine of a Moral Governor,
which alone gives it a meaning and a scope; that is, the doctrine of a
Judge and Judgment to come is a development of the phenomenon of
conscience. Again, it is plain that passions and affections are in
action in our minds before the presence of their proper objects; and
their activity would of course be an antecedent argument of extreme
cogency in behalf of the real existence of those legitimate objects,
supposing them unknown. And so again, the social principle, which is
innate in us, gives a divine sanction to society and to civil
government. And the usage of prayers for the dead implies certain
circumstances of their state upon which such devotions bear. And rites
and ceremonies are natural means through which the mind relieves itself
of devotional and penitential emotions. And sometimes the cultivation
of awe and love towards what is great, high, and unseen, has led a man
to the abandonment of his sect for some more Catholic form of doctrine.

Aristotle furnishes us with an instance of this kind of development in
his account of the happy man. After showing that his definition of
happiness includes in itself the pleasurable, which is the most obvious
and popular idea of happiness, he goes on to say that still external
goods are necessary to it, about which, however, the definition said
nothing; that is, a certain prosperity is by moral fitness, not by
logical necessity, attached to the happy man. "For it is impossible," he
observes, "or not easy, to practise high virtue without abundant means.
Many deeds are done by the instrumentality of friends, wealth and
political power; and of some things the absence is a cloud upon
happiness, as of noble birth, of hopeful children, and of personal
appearance: for a person utterly deformed, or low-born, or bereaved and
childless, cannot quite be happy: and still less if he have very
worthless children or friends, or they were good and died."[49:1]


This process of development has been well delineated by a living French
writer, in his Lectures on European civilization, who shall be quoted at
some length. "If we reduce religion," he says, "to a purely religious
sentiment . . . it appears evident that it must and ought to remain a
purely personal concern. But I am either strangely mistaken, or this
religious sentiment is not the complete expression of the religious
nature of man. Religion is, I believe, very different from this,
and much more extended. There are problems in human nature, in human
destinies, which cannot be solved in this life, which depend on
an order of things unconnected with the visible world, but which
unceasingly agitate the human mind with a desire to comprehend them. The
solution of these problems is the origin of all religion; her primary
object is to discover the creeds and doctrines which contain, or are
supposed to contain it.

"Another cause also impels mankind to embrace religion . . . From whence
do morals originate? whither do they lead? is this self-existing
obligation to do good, an isolated fact, without an author, without an
end? does it not conceal, or rather does it not reveal to man, an
origin, a destiny, beyond this world? The science of morals, by these
spontaneous and inevitable questions, conducts man to the threshold of
religion, and displays to him a sphere from whence he has not derived
it. Thus the certain and never-failing sources of religion are, on the
one hand, the problems of our nature; on the other, the necessity of
seeking for morals a sanction, an origin, and an aim. It therefore
assumes many other forms beside that of a pure sentiment; it appears a
union of doctrines, of precepts, of promises. This is what truly
constitutes religion; this is its fundamental character; it is not
merely a form of sensibility, an impulse of the imagination, a variety
of poetry.

"When thus brought back to its true elements, to its essential nature,
religion appears no longer a purely personal concern, but a powerful and
fruitful principle of association. Is it considered in the light of a
system of belief, a system of dogmas? Truth is not the heritage of any
individual, it is absolute and universal; mankind ought to seek and
profess it in common. Is it considered with reference to the precepts
that are associated with its doctrines? A law which is obligatory on a
single individual, is so on all; it ought to be promulgated, and it is
our duty to endeavour to bring all mankind under its dominion. It is
the same with respect to the promises that religion makes, in the name
of its creeds and precepts; they ought to be diffused; all men should be
incited to partake of their benefits. A religious society, therefore,
naturally results from the essential elements of religion, and is such a
necessary consequence of it that the term which expresses the most
energetic social sentiment, the most intense desire to propagate ideas
and extend society, is the word _proselytism_, a term which is
especially applied to religious belief, and in fact consecrated to it.

"When a religious society has ever been formed, when a certain number of
men are united by a common religious creed, are governed by the same
religious precepts, and enjoy the same religious hopes, some form of
government is necessary. No society can endure a week, nay more, no
society can endure a single hour, without a government. The moment,
indeed, a society is formed, by the very fact of its formation, it calls
forth a government,--a government which shall proclaim the common truth
which is the bond of the society, and promulgate and maintain the
precepts that this truth ought to produce. The necessity of a superior
power, of a form of government, is involved in the fact of the existence
of a religious, as it is in that of any other society.

"And not only is a government necessary, but it naturally forms
itself. . . . When events are suffered to follow their natural laws,
when force does not interfere, power falls into the hands of the most
able, the most worthy, those who are most capable of carrying out the
principles on which the society was founded. Is a warlike expedition
in agitation? The bravest take the command. Is the object of the
association learned research, or a scientific undertaking? The best
informed will be the leader. . . . The inequality of faculties and
influence, which is the foundation of power in civil life, has the same
effect in a religious society. . . Religion has no sooner arisen in the
human mind than a religious society appears; and immediately a religious
society is formed, it produces its government."[52:1]


9. It remains to allude to what, unless the word were often so vaguely
and variously used, I should be led to call _metaphysical_ developments;
I mean such as are a mere analysis of the idea contemplated, and
terminate in its exact and complete delineation. Thus Aristotle draws
the character of a magnanimous or of a munificent man; thus Shakspeare
might conceive and bring out his Hamlet or Ariel; thus Walter Scott
gradually enucleates his James, or Dalgetty, as the action of his story
proceeds; and thus, in the sacred province of theology, the mind may be
employed in developing the solemn ideas, which it has hitherto held
implicitly and without subjecting them to its reflecting and reasoning

I have already treated of this subject at length, with a reference to
the highest theological subject, in a former work, from which it will be
sufficient here to quote some sentences in explanation:--

"The mind which is habituated to the thought of God, of Christ, of
the Holy Spirit, naturally turns with a devout curiosity to the
contemplation of the object of its adoration, and begins to form
statements concerning it, before it knows whither, or how far, it will
be carried. One proposition necessarily leads to another, and a second
to a third; then some limitation is required; and the combination of
these opposites occasions some fresh evolutions from the original idea,
which indeed can never be said to be entirely exhausted. This process is
its development, and results in a series, or rather body, of dogmatic
statements, till what was an impression on the Imagination has become a
system or creed in the Reason.

"Now such impressions are obviously individual and complete above other
theological ideas, because they are the impressions of Objects. Ideas
and their developments are commonly not identical, the development being
but the carrying out of the idea into its consequences. Thus the
doctrine of Penance may be called a development of the doctrine of
Baptism, yet still is a distinct doctrine; whereas the developments in
the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation are mere portions
of the original impression, and modes of representing it. As God is one,
so the impression which He gives us of Himself is one; it is not a thing
of parts; it is not a system; nor is it anything imperfect and needing a
counterpart. It is the vision of an object. When we pray, we pray, not
to an assemblage of notions or to a creed, but to One Individual Being;
and when we speak of Him, we speak of a Person, not of a Law or
Manifestation . . . Religious men, according to their measure, have an
idea or vision of the Blessed Trinity in Unity, of the Son Incarnate,
and of His Presence, not as a number of qualities, attributes, and
actions, not as the subject of a number of propositions, but as one and
individual, and independent of words, like an impression conveyed
through the senses. . . . Creeds and dogmas live in the one idea which
they are designed to express, and which alone is substantive; and are
necessary, because the human mind cannot reflect upon that idea except
piecemeal, cannot use it in its oneness and entireness, or without
resolving it into a series of aspects and relations."[53:1]


So much on the development of ideas in various subject matters: it may
be necessary to add that, in many cases, _development_ simply stands
for _exhibition_, as in some of the instances adduced above. Thus both
Calvinism and Unitarianism may be called developments, that is,
exhibitions, of the principle of Private Judgment, though they have
nothing in common, viewed as doctrines.

As to Christianity, supposing the truths of which it consists to admit
of development, that development will be one or other of the last five
kinds. Taking the Incarnation as its central doctrine, the Episcopate,
as taught by St. Ignatius, will be an instance of political development,
the _Theotokos_ of logical, the determination of the date of our Lord's
birth of historical, the Holy Eucharist of moral, and the Athanasian
Creed of metaphysical.


[43:1] Hallam's Constit. Hist. ch. vii. p. 572.

[44:1] ch. xlvii.

[46:1] _Times_ newspaper of March, 1845.

[47:1] Crabbe's Tales.

[49:1] Eth. Nic. i. 8.

[52:1] Guizot, Europ. Civil., Lect. v., Beckwith's Translation.

[53:1] [Univ. Serm. xv. 20-23, pp. 329-332, ed. 3.]





1. If Christianity is a fact, and impresses an idea of itself on our
minds and is a subject-matter of exercises of the reason, that idea will
in course of time expand into a multitude of ideas, and aspects of
ideas, connected and harmonious with one another, and in themselves
determinate and immutable, as is the objective fact itself which is thus
represented. It is a characteristic of our minds, that they cannot take
an object in, which is submitted to them simply and integrally. We
conceive by means of definition or description; whole objects do not
create in the intellect whole ideas, but are, to use a mathematical
phrase, thrown into series, into a number of statements, strengthening,
interpreting, correcting each other, and with more or less exactness
approximating, as they accumulate, to a perfect image. There is no other
way of learning or of teaching. We cannot teach except by aspects or
views, which are not identical with the thing itself which we are
teaching. Two persons may each convey the same truth to a third, yet by
methods and through representations altogether different. The same
person will treat the same argument differently in an essay or speech,
according to the accident of the day of writing, or of the audience, yet
it will be substantially the same.

And the more claim an idea has to be considered living, the more various
will be its aspects; and the more social and political is its nature,
the more complicated and subtle will be its issues, and the longer and
more eventful will be its course. And in the number of these special
ideas, which from their very depth and richness cannot be fully
understood at once, but are more and more clearly expressed and taught
the longer they last,--having aspects many and bearings many, mutually
connected and growing one out of another, and all parts of a whole, with
a sympathy and correspondence keeping pace with the ever-changing
necessities of the world, multiform, prolific, and ever
resourceful,--among these great doctrines surely we Christians shall not
refuse a foremost place to Christianity. Such previously to the
determination of the fact, must be our anticipation concerning it from a
contemplation of its initial achievements.


It may be objected that its inspired documents at once determine the
limits of its mission without further trouble; but ideas are in the
writer and reader of the revelation, not the inspired text itself: and
the question is whether those ideas which the letter conveys from writer
to reader, reach the reader at once in their completeness and accuracy
on his first perception of them, or whether they open out in his
intellect and grow to perfection in the course of time. Nor could it
surely be maintained without extravagance that the letter of the New
Testament, or of any assignable number of books, comprises a delineation
of all possible forms which a divine message will assume when submitted
to a multitude of minds.

Nor is the case altered by supposing that inspiration provided in behalf
of the first recipients of the Revelation, what the Divine Fiat effected
for herbs and plants in the beginning, which were created in maturity.
Still, the time at length came, when its recipients ceased to be
inspired; and on these recipients the revealed truths would fall, as in
other cases, at first vaguely and generally, though in spirit and in
truth, and would afterwards be completed by developments.

Nor can it fairly be made a difficulty that thus to treat of Christianity
is to level it in some sort to sects and doctrines of the world, and to
impute to it the imperfections which characterize the productions of
man. Certainly it is a sort of degradation of a divine work to consider
it under an earthly form; but it is no irreverence, since our Lord
Himself, its Author and Guardian, bore one also. Christianity differs
from other religions and philosophies, in what is superadded to earth
from heaven; not in kind, but in origin; not in its nature, but in its
personal characteristics; being informed and quickened by what is more
than intellect, by a divine spirit. It is externally what the Apostle
calls an "earthen vessel," being the religion of men. And, considered as
such, it grows "in wisdom and stature;" but the powers which it wields,
and the words which proceed out of its mouth, attest its miraculous

Unless then some special ground of exception can be assigned, it is as
evident that Christianity, as a doctrine and worship, will develope in
the minds of recipients, as that it conforms in other respects, in its
external propagation or its political framework, to the general methods
by which the course of things is carried forward.


2. Again, if Christianity be an universal religion, suited not simply to
one locality or period, but to all times and places, it cannot but vary
in its relations and dealings towards the world around it, that is, it
will develope. Principles require a very various application according
as persons and circumstances vary, and must be thrown into new shapes
according to the form of society which they are to influence. Hence all
bodies of Christians, orthodox or not, develope the doctrines of
Scripture. Few but will grant that Luther's view of justification had
never been stated in words before his time: that his phraseology and his
positions were novel, whether called for by circumstances or not. It is
equally certain that the doctrine of justification defined at Trent was,
in some sense, new also. The refutation and remedy of errors cannot
precede their rise; and thus the fact of false developments or
corruptions involves the correspondent manifestation of true ones.
Moreover, all parties appeal to Scripture, that is, argue from
Scripture; but argument implies deduction, that is, development. Here
there is no difference between early times and late, between a Pope _ex
cathedrâ_ and an individual Protestant, except that their authority is
not on a par. On either side the claim of authority is the same, and the
process of development.

Accordingly, the common complaint of Protestants against the Church of
Rome is, not simply that she has added to the primitive or the
Scriptural doctrine, (for this they do themselves,) but that she
contradicts it, and moreover imposes her additions as fundamental truths
under sanction of an anathema. For themselves they deduce by quite as
subtle a method, and act upon doctrines as implicit and on reasons as
little analyzed in time past, as Catholic schoolmen. What prominence has
the Royal Supremacy in the New Testament, or the lawfulness of bearing
arms, or the duty of public worship, or the substitution of the first
day of the week for the seventh, or infant baptism, to say nothing of
the fundamental principle that the Bible and the Bible only is the
religion of Protestants? These doctrines and usages, true or not, which
is not the question here, are surely not gained by the direct use and
immediate application of Scripture, nor by a mere exercise of argument
upon words and sentences placed before the eyes, but by the unconscious
growth of ideas suggested by the letter and habitual to the mind.


3. And, indeed, when we turn to the consideration of particular
doctrines on which Scripture lays the greatest stress, we shall see that
it is absolutely impossible for them to remain in the mere letter of
Scripture, if they are to be more than mere words, and to convey a
definite idea to the recipient. When it is declared that "the Word
became flesh," three wide questions open upon us on the very
announcement. What is meant by "the Word," what by "flesh," what by
"became"? The answers to these involve a process of investigation, and
are developments. Moreover, when they have been made, they will suggest
a series of secondary questions; and thus at length a multitude of
propositions is the result, which gather round the inspired sentence of
which they come, giving it externally the form of a doctrine, and
creating or deepening the idea of it in the mind.

It is true that, so far as such statements of Scripture are mysteries,
they are relatively to us but words, and cannot be developed. But as a
mystery implies in part what is incomprehensible or at least unknown, so
does it in part imply what is not so; it implies a partial manifestation,
or a representation by economy. Because then it is in a measure
understood, it can so far be developed, though each result in the
process will partake of the dimness and confusion of the original


4. This moreover should be considered,--that great questions exist in
the subject-matter of which Scripture treats, which Scripture does not
solve; questions too so real, so practical, that they must be answered,
and, unless we suppose a new revelation, answered by means of the
revelation which we have, that is, by development. Such is the question
of the Canon of Scripture and its inspiration: that is, whether
Christianity depends upon a written document as Judaism;--if so, on what
writings and how many;--whether that document is self-interpreting, or
requires a comment, and whether any authoritative comment or commentator
is provided;--whether the revelation and the document are commensurate,
or the one outruns the other;--all these questions surely find no
solution on the surface of Scripture, nor indeed under the surface in
the case of most men, however long and diligent might be their study of
it. Nor were these difficulties settled by authority, as far as we know,
at the commencement of the religion; yet surely it is quite conceivable
that an Apostle might have dissipated them all in a few words, had
Divine Wisdom thought fit. But in matter of fact the decision has been
left to time, to the slow process of thought, to the influence of mind
upon mind, the issues of controversy, and the growth of opinion.


To take another instance just now referred to:--if there was a point on
which a rule was desirable from the first, it was concerning the
religious duties under which Christian parents lay as regards their
children. It would be natural indeed in any Christian father, in the
absence of a rule, to bring his children for baptism; such in this
instance would be the practical development of his faith in Christ and
love for his offspring; still a development it is,--necessarily
required, yet, as far as we know, not provided for his need by direct
precept in the Revelation as originally given.

Another very large field of thought, full of practical considerations,
yet, as far as our knowledge goes, but only partially occupied by any
Apostolical judgment, is that which the question of the effects of
Baptism opens upon us. That they who came in repentance and faith to
that Holy Sacrament received remission of sins, is undoubtedly the
doctrine of the Apostles; but is there any means of a second remission
for sins committed after it? St. Paul's Epistles, where we might expect
an answer to our inquiry, contain no explicit statement on the subject;
what they do plainly say does not diminish the difficulty:--viz., first,
that baptism is intended for the pardon of sins before it, not in
prospect; next, that those who have received the gift of Baptism in fact
live in a state of holiness, not of sin. How do statements such as these
meet the actual state of the Church as we see it at this day?

Considering that it was expressly predicted that the Kingdom of Heaven,
like the fisher's net, should gather of every kind, and that the tares
should grow with the wheat until the harvest, a graver and more
practical question cannot be imagined than that which it has pleased the
Divine Author of the Revelation to leave undecided, unless indeed there
be means given in that Revelation of its own growth or development. As
far as the letter goes of the inspired message, every one who holds that
Scripture is the rule of faith, as all Protestants do, must allow that
"there is not one of us but has exceeded by transgression its revealed
Ritual, and finds himself in consequence thrown upon those infinite
resources of Divine Love which are stored in Christ, but have not been
drawn out into form in the appointments of the Gospel."[62:1] Since then
Scripture needs completion, the question is brought to this issue,
whether defect or inchoateness in its doctrines be or be not an
antecedent probability in favour of a development of them.


There is another subject, though not so immediately practical, on which
Scripture does not, strictly speaking, keep silence, but says so little
as to require, and so much as to suggest, information beyond its
letter,--the intermediate state between death and the Resurrection.
Considering the long interval which separates Christ's first and second
coming, the millions of faithful souls who are waiting it out, and the
intimate concern which every Christian has in the determination of its
character, it might have been expected that Scripture would have spoken
explicitly concerning it, whereas in fact its notices are but brief and
obscure. We might indeed have argued that this silence of Scripture
was intentional, with a view of discouraging speculations upon the
subject, except for the circumstance that, as in the question of our
post-baptismal state, its teaching seems to proceed upon an hypothesis
inapplicable to the state of the Church after the time when it was
delivered. As Scripture contemplates Christians, not as backsliders, but
as saints, so does it apparently represent the Day of Judgment as
immediate, and the interval of expectation as evanescent. It leaves on
our minds the general impression that Christ was returning on earth at
once, "the time short," worldly engagements superseded by "the present
distress," persecutors urgent, Christians, as a body, sinless and
expectant, without home, without plan for the future, looking up to
heaven. But outward circumstances have changed, and with the change, a
different application of the revealed word has of necessity been
demanded, that is, a development. When the nations were converted and
offences abounded, then the Church came out to view, on the one hand as
a temporal establishment, on the other as a remedial system, and
passages of Scripture aided and directed the development which before
were of inferior account. Hence the doctrine of Penance as the
complement of Baptism, and of Purgatory as the explanation of the
Intermediate State. So reasonable is this expansion of the original
creed, that, when some ten years since the true doctrine of Baptism was
expounded among us without any mention of Penance, our teacher was
accused by many of us of Novatianism; while, on the other hand,
heterodox divines have before now advocated the doctrine of the sleep of
the soul because they said it was the only successful preventive of
belief in Purgatory.


Thus developments of Christianity are proved to have been in the
contemplation of its Divine Author, by an argument parallel to that by
which we infer intelligence in the system of the physical world. In
whatever sense the need and its supply are a proof of design in the
visible creation, in the same do the gaps, if the word may be used,
which occur in the structure of the original creed of the Church, make
it probable that those developments, which grow out of the truths which
lie around it, were intended to fill them up.

Nor can it be fairly objected that in thus arguing we are contradicting
the great philosopher, who tells us, that "upon supposition of God
affording us light and instruction by revelation, additional to what He
has afforded us by reason and experience, we are in no sort judges by
what methods, and in what proportion, it were to be expected that this
supernatural light and instruction would be afforded us,"[64:1] because
he is speaking of our judging before a revelation is given. He observes
that "we have no principles of reason upon which to judge _beforehand_,
how it were to be expected Revelation should have been left, or what was
most suitable to the divine plan of government," in various respects;
but the case is altogether altered when a Revelation is vouchsafed, for
then a new precedent, or what he calls "principle of reason," is
introduced, and from what is actually put into our hands we can form a
judgment whether more is to be expected. Butler, indeed, as a well-known
passage of his work shows, is far from denying the principle of
progressive development.


5. The method of revelation observed in Scripture abundantly confirms
this anticipation. For instance, Prophecy, if it had so happened, need
not have afforded a specimen of development; separate predictions might
have been made to accumulate as time went on, prospects might have
opened, definite knowledge might have been given, by communications
independent of each other, as St. John's Gospel or the Epistles of St.
Paul are unconnected with the first three Gospels, though the doctrine
of each Apostle is a development of their matter. But the prophetic
Revelation is, in matter of fact, not of this nature, but a process of
development: the earlier prophecies are pregnant texts out of which the
succeeding announcements grow; they are types. It is not that first one
truth is told, then another; but the whole truth or large portions of it
are told at once, yet only in their rudiments, or in miniature, and they
are expanded and finished in their parts, as the course of revelation

The Seed of the woman was to bruise the serpent's head; the sceptre was
not to depart from Judah till Shiloh came, to whom was to be the
gathering of the people. He was to be Wonderful, Counsellor, the Prince
of Peace. The question of the Ethiopian rises in the reader's mind, "Of
whom speaketh the Prophet this?" Every word requires a comment.
Accordingly, it is no uncommon theory with unbelievers, that the
Messianic idea, as they call it, was gradually developed in the minds of
the Jews by a continuous and traditional habit of contemplating it, and
grew into its full proportions by a mere human process; and so far seems
certain, without trenching on the doctrine of inspiration, that the
books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus are developments of the writings of
the Prophets, expressed or elicited by means of current ideas in the
Greek philosophy, and ultimately adopted and ratified by the Apostle in
his Epistle to the Hebrews.


But the whole Bible, not its prophetical portions only, is written on
the principle of development. As the Revelation proceeds, it is ever
new, yet ever old. St. John, who completes it, declares that he writes
no "new commandment unto his brethren," but an old commandment which
they "had from the beginning." And then he adds, "A new commandment I
write unto you." The same test of development is suggested in our Lord's
words on the Mount, as has already been noticed, "Think not that I am
come to destroy the Law and the Prophets; I am not come to destroy, but
to fulfil." He does not reverse, but perfect, what has gone before. Thus
with respect to the evangelical view of the rite of sacrifice, first the
rite is enjoined by Moses; next Samuel says, "to obey is better than
sacrifice;" then Hosea, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice;" Isaiah,
"Incense is an abomination onto me;" then Malachi, describing the times
of the Gospel, speaks of the "pure offering" of wheatflour; and our Lord
completes the development, when He speaks of worshipping "in spirit and
in truth." If there is anything here left to explain, it will be found
in the usage of the Christian Church immediately afterwards, which shows
that sacrifice was not removed, but truth and spirit added.

Nay, the _effata_ of our Lord and His Apostles are of a typical
structure, parallel to the prophetic announcements above mentioned, and
predictions as well as injunctions of doctrine. If then the prophetic
sentences have had that development which has really been given them,
first by succeeding revelations, and then by the event, it is probable
antecedently that those doctrinal, political, ritual, and ethical
sentences, which have the same structure, should admit the same
expansion. Such are, "This is My Body," or "Thou art Peter, and upon
this Rock I will build My Church," or "The meek shall inherit the
earth," or "Suffer little children to come unto Me," or "The pure in
heart shall see God."


On this character of our Lord's teaching, the following passage
may suitably be quoted from a writer already used. "His recorded words
and works when on earth . . . come to us as the declarations of a
Lawgiver. In the Old Covenant, Almighty God first of all spoke the Ten
Commandments from Mount Sinai, and afterwards wrote them. So our Lord
first spoke His own Gospel, both of promise and of precept, on the
Mount, and His Evangelists have recorded it. Further, when He delivered
it, He spoke by way of parallel to the Ten Commandments. And His style,
moreover, corresponds to the authority which He assumes. It is of that
solemn, measured, and severe character, which bears on the face of it
tokens of its belonging to One who spake as none other man could speak.
The Beatitudes, with which His Sermon opens, are an instance of this
incommunicable style, which befitted, as far as human words could befit,
God Incarnate.

"Nor is this style peculiar to the Sermon on the Mount. All through the
Gospels it is discernible, distinct from any other part of Scripture,
showing itself in solemn declarations, canons, sentences, or sayings,
such as legislators propound, and scribes and lawyers comment on. Surely
everything our Saviour did and said is characterized by mingled
simplicity and mystery. His emblematical actions, His typical miracles,
His parables, His replies, His censures, all are evidences of a
legislature in germ, afterwards to be developed, a code of divine
truth which was ever to be before men's eyes, to be the subject of
investigation and interpretation, and the guide in controversy. 'Verily,
verily, I say unto you,'--'But, I say unto you,'--are the tokens of a
supreme Teacher and Prophet.

"And thus the Fathers speak of His teaching. 'His sayings,' observes St.
Justin, 'were short and concise; for He was no rhetorician, but His word
was the power of God.' And St. Basil, in like manner, 'Every deed and
every word of our Saviour Jesus Christ is a canon of piety and virtue.
When then thou hearest word or deed of His, do not hear it as by the
way, or after a simple and carnal manner, but enter into the depth of
His contemplations, become a communicant in truths mystically delivered
to thee.'"[67:1]


Moreover, while it is certain that developments of Revelation proceeded
all through the Old Dispensation down to the very end of our Lord's
ministry, on the other hand, if we turn our attention to the beginnings
of Apostolical teaching after His ascension, we shall find ourselves
unable to fix an historical point at which the growth of doctrine
ceased, and the rule of faith was once for all settled. Not on the day
of Pentecost, for St. Peter had still to learn at Joppa that he was to
baptize Cornelius; not at Joppa and Cæsarea, for St. Paul had to write
his Epistles; not on the death of the last Apostle, for St. Ignatius had
to establish the doctrine of Episcopacy; not then, nor for centuries
after, for the Canon of the New Testament was still undetermined. Not in
the Creed, which is no collection of definitions, but a summary of
certain _credenda_, an incomplete summary, and, like the Lord's Prayer
or the Decalogue, a mere sample of divine truths, especially of the more
elementary. No one doctrine can be named which starts complete at first,
and gains nothing afterwards from the investigations of faith and the
attacks of heresy. The Church went forth from the old world in haste, as
the Israelites from Egypt "with their dough before it was leavened,
their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their


Further, the political developments contained in the historical parts of
Scripture are as striking as the prophetical and the doctrinal. Can any
history wear a more human appearance than that of the rise and growth of
the chosen people to whom I have just referred? What had been determined
in the counsels of the Lord of heaven and earth from the beginning, what
was immutable, what was announced to Moses in the burning bush, is
afterwards represented as the growth of an idea under successive
emergencies. The Divine Voice in the bush had announced the Exodus of
the children of Israel from Egypt and their entrance into Canaan; and
added, as a token of the certainty of His purpose, "When thou hast
brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this
mountain." Now this sacrifice or festival, which was but incidental and
secondary in the great deliverance, is for a while the ultimate scope of
the demands which Moses makes upon Pharaoh. "Thou shalt come, thou and
the elders of Israel unto the King of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him,
The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us, and now let us go, we
beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may
sacrifice to the Lord our God." It had been added that Pharaoh would
first refuse their request, but that after miracles he would let them go
altogether, nay with "jewels of silver and gold, and raiment."

Accordingly the first request of Moses was, "Let us go, we pray thee,
three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our
God." Before the plague of frogs the warning is repeated, "Let My people
go that they may serve Me;" and after it Pharaoh says, "I will let the
people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord." It occurs again
before the plague of flies; and after it Pharaoh offers to let the
Israelites sacrifice in Egypt, which Moses refuses on the ground that
they will have to "sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before
their eyes." "We will go three days' journey into the wilderness," he
proceeds, "and sacrifice to the Lord our God;" and Pharaoh then concedes
their sacrificing in the wilderness, "only," he says, "you shall not go
very far away." The demand is repeated separately before the plagues of
murrain, hail, and locusts, no mention being yet made of anything beyond
a service or sacrifice in the wilderness. On the last of these
interviews, Pharaoh asks an explanation, and Moses extends his claim:
"We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our
daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go, for we must
hold a feast unto the Lord." That it was an extension seems plain from
Pharaoh's reply: "Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord, for that
ye did desire." Upon the plague of darkness Pharaoh concedes the
extended demand, excepting the flocks and herds; but Moses reminds him
that they were implied, though not expressed in the original wording:
"Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may
sacrifice unto the Lord our God." Even to the last, there was no
intimation of their leaving Egypt for good; the issue was left to be
wrought out by the Egyptians. "All these thy servants," says Moses,
"shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get
thee out and all the people that follow thee, and after that I will go
out;" and, accordingly, after the judgment on the first-born, they were
thrust out at midnight, with their flocks and herds, their kneading
troughs and their dough, laden, too, with the spoils of Egypt, as had
been fore-ordained, yet apparently by a combination of circumstances, or
the complication of a crisis. Yet Moses knew that their departure from
Egypt was final, for he took the bones of Joseph with him; and that
conviction broke on Pharaoh soon, when he and his asked themselves, "Why
have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" But
this progress of events, vague and uncertain as it seemed to be,
notwithstanding the miracles which attended it, had been directed by Him
who works out gradually what He has determined absolutely; and it ended
in the parting of the Red Sea, and the destruction of Pharaoh's host, on
his pursuing them.

Moreover, from what occurred forty years afterwards, when they were
advancing upon the promised land, it would seem that the original grant
of territory did not include the country east of Jordan, held in the
event by Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh; at least they
undertook at first to leave Sihon in undisturbed possession of his
country, if he would let them pass through it, and only on his refusing
his permission did they invade and appropriate it.


6. It is in point to notice also the structure and style of Scripture, a
structure so unsystematic and various, and a style so figurative and
indirect, that no one would presume at first sight to say what is in it
and what is not. It cannot, as it were, be mapped, or its contents
catalogued; but after all our diligence, to the end of our lives and to
the end of the Church, it must be an unexplored and unsubdued land, with
heights and valleys, forests and streams, on the right and left of our
path and close about us, full of concealed wonders and choice treasures.
Of no doctrine whatever, which does not actually contradict what has
been delivered, can it be peremptorily asserted that it is not in
Scripture; of no reader, whatever be his study of it, can it be said
that he has mastered every doctrine which it contains. Butler's remarks
on this subject were just now referred to. "The more distinct and
particular knowledge," he says, "of those things, the study of which the
Apostle calls 'going on unto perfection,'" that is, of the more
recondite doctrines of the Gospel, "and of the prophetic parts of
revelation, like many parts of natural and even civil knowledge, may
require very exact thought and careful consideration. The hindrances too
of natural and of supernatural light and knowledge have been of the
same kind. And 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 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."[72:1] Butler of course was not contemplating
the case of new articles of faith, or developments imperative on
our acceptance, but he surely bears witness to the probability of
developments taking place in Christian doctrine considered in themselves,
which is the point at present in question.


It may be added that, in matter of fact, all the definitions or received
judgments of the early and medieval Church rest upon definite, even
though sometimes obscure sentences of Scripture. Thus Purgatory may
appeal to the "saving by fire," and "entering through much tribulation
into the kingdom of God;" the communication of the merits of the Saints
to our "receiving a prophet's reward" for "receiving a prophet in the
name of a prophet," and "a righteous man's reward" for "receiving a
righteous man in the name of a righteous man;" the Real Presence to
"This is My Body;" Absolution to "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are
remitted;" Extreme Unction to "Anointing him with oil in the Name of the
Lord;" Voluntary poverty to "Sell all that thou hast;" obedience to "He
was in subjection to His parents;" the honour paid to creatures, animate
or inanimate, to _Laudate Dominum in sanctis Ejus_, and _Adorate
scabellum pedum Ejus_; and so of the rest.


7. Lastly, while Scripture nowhere recognizes itself or asserts the
inspiration of those passages which are most essential, it distinctly
anticipates the development of Christianity, both as a polity and as a
doctrine. In one of our Lord's parables "the Kingdom of Heaven" is even
compared to "a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and hid in his
field; which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it
is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree," and, as St. Mark
words it, "shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air
come and lodge in the branches thereof." And again, in the same chapter
of St. Mark, "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed
into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed
should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth
forth fruit of herself." Here an internal element of life, whether
principle or doctrine, is spoken of rather than any mere external
manifestation; and it is observable that the spontaneous, as well as the
gradual, character of the growth is intimated. This description of the
process corresponds to what has been above observed respecting
development, viz. that it is not an effect of wishing and resolving, or
of forced enthusiasm, or of any mechanism of reasoning, or of any mere
subtlety of intellect; but comes of its own innate power of expansion
within the mind in its season, though with the use of reflection and
argument and original thought, more or less as it may happen, with a
dependence on the ethical growth of the mind itself, and with a reflex
influence upon it. Again, the Parable of the Leaven describes the
development of doctrine in another respect, in its active, engrossing,
and interpenetrating power.


From the necessity, then, of the case, from the history of all sects and
parties in religion, and from the analogy and example of Scripture,
we may fairly conclude that Christian doctrine admits of formal,
legitimate, and true developments, that is, of developments contemplated
by its Divine Author.

The general analogy of the world, physical and moral, confirms this
conclusion, as we are reminded by the great authority who has already
been quoted in the course of this Section. "The whole natural world and
government of it," says Butler, "is a scheme or system; not a fixed, but
a progressive one; a scheme in which the operation of various means
takes up a great length of time before the ends they tend to can be
attained. The change of seasons, the ripening of the fruits of the
earth, the very history of a flower is an instance of this; and so is
human life. Thus vegetable bodies, and those of animals, though possibly
formed at once, yet grow up by degrees to a mature state. And thus
rational agents, who animate these latter bodies, are naturally directed
to form each his own manners and character by the gradual gaining of
knowledge and experience, and by a long course of action. Our existence
is not only successive, as it must be of necessity, but one state of our
life and being is appointed by God to be a preparation for another; and
that to be the means of attaining to another succeeding one: infancy to
childhood, childhood to youth, youth to mature age. Men are impatient,
and for precipitating things; but the Author of Nature appears
deliberate throughout His operations, accomplishing His natural ends by
slow successive steps. And there is a plan of things beforehand laid
out, which, from the nature of it, requires various systems of means, as
well as length of time, in order to the carrying on its several parts
into execution. Thus, in the daily course of natural providence, God
operates in the very same manner as in the dispensation of Christianity,
making one thing subservient to another; this, to somewhat farther; and
so on, through a progressive series of means, which extend, both
backward and forward, beyond our utmost view. Of this manner of
operation, everything we see in the course of nature is as much an
instance as any part of the Christian dispensation."[75:1]



It has now been made probable that developments of Christianity were but
natural, as time went on, and were to be expected; and that these
natural and true developments, as being natural and true, were of course
contemplated and taken into account by its Author, who in designing the
work designed its legitimate results. These, whatever they turn out to
be, may be called absolutely "the developments" of Christianity. That,
beyond reasonable doubt, there are such is surely a great step gained in
the inquiry; it is a momentous fact. The next question is, _What_ are
they? and to a theologian, who could take a general view, and also
possessed an intimate and minute knowledge, of its history, they
would doubtless on the whole be easily distinguishable by their own
characters, and require no foreign aid to point them out, no external
authority to ratify them. But it is difficult to say who is exactly in
this position. Considering that Christians, from the nature of the case,
live under the bias of the doctrines, and in the very midst of the
facts, and during the process of the controversies, which are to be the
subject of criticism, since they are exposed to the prejudices of birth,
education, place, personal attachment, engagements, and party, it can
hardly be maintained that in matter of fact a true development carries
with it always its own certainty even to the learned, or that history,
past or present, is secure from the possibility of a variety of


I have already spoken on this subject, and from a very different point
of view from that which I am taking at present:--

"Prophets or Doctors are the interpreters of the revelation; they unfold
and define its mysteries, they illuminate its documents, they harmonize
its contents, they apply its promises. Their teaching is a vast system,
not to be comprised in a few sentences, not to be embodied in one code
or treatise, but consisting of a certain body of Truth, pervading the
Church like an atmosphere, irregular in its shape from its very
profusion and exuberance; at times separable only in idea from Episcopal
Tradition, yet at times melting away into legend and fable; partly
written, partly unwritten, partly the interpretation, partly the
supplement of Scripture, partly preserved in intellectual expressions,
partly latent in the spirit and temper of Christians; poured to and fro
in closets and upon the housetops, in liturgies, in controversial works,
in obscure fragments, in sermons, in popular prejudices, in local
customs. This I call Prophetical Tradition, existing primarily in the
bosom of the Church itself, and recorded in such measure as Providence
has determined in the writings of eminent men. Keep that which is
committed to thy charge, is St. Paul's injunction to Timothy; and for
this reason, because from its vastness and indefiniteness it is
especially exposed to corruption, if the Church fails in vigilance. This
is that body of teaching which is offered to all Christians even at the
present day, though in various forms and measures of truth, in different
parts of Christendom, partly being a comment, partly an addition upon
the articles of the Creed."[77:1]

If this be true, certainly some rule is necessary for arranging and
authenticating these various expressions and results of Christian
doctrine. No one will maintain that all points of belief are of equal
importance. "There are what may be called minor points, which we may
hold to be true without imposing them as necessary;" "there are greater
truths and lesser truths, points which it is necessary, and points which
it is pious to believe."[77:2] The simple question is, How are we to
discriminate the greater from the less, the true from the false.


This need of an authoritative sanction is increased by considering,
after M. Guizot's suggestion, that Christianity, though represented in
prophecy as a kingdom, came into the world as an idea rather than an
institution, and has had to wrap itself in clothing and fit itself with
armour of its own providing, and to form the instruments and methods of
its prosperity and warfare. If the developments, which have above been
called _moral_, are to take place to any great extent, and without them
it is difficult to see how Christianity can exist at all, if only its
relations towards civil government have to be ascertained, or the
qualifications for the profession of it have to be defined, surely an
authority is necessary to impart decision to what is vague, and
confidence to what is empirical, to ratify the successive steps of so
elaborate a process, and to secure the validity of inferences which are
to be made the premisses of more remote investigations.

Tests, it is true, for ascertaining the correctness of developments in
general may be drawn out, as I shall show in the sequel; but they are
insufficient for the guidance of individuals in the case of so large and
complicated a problem as Christianity, though they may aid our inquiries
and support our conclusions in particular points. They are of a
scientific and controversial, not of a practical character, and are
instruments rather than warrants of right decisions. Moreover, they
rather serve as answers to objections brought against the actual
decisions of authority, than are proofs of the correctness of those
decisions. While, then, on the one hand, it is probable that some means
will be granted for ascertaining the legitimate and true developments of
Revelation, it appears, on the other, that these means must of necessity
be external to the developments themselves.


Reasons shall be given in this Section for concluding that, in
proportion to the probability of true developments of doctrine and
practice in the Divine Scheme, so is the probability also of the
appointment in that scheme of an external authority to decide upon them,
thereby separating them from the mass of mere human speculation,
extravagance, corruption, and error, in and out of which they grow. This
is the doctrine of the infallibility of the Church; for by infallibility
I suppose is meant the power of deciding whether this, that, and a
third, and any number of theological or ethical statements are true.


1. Let the state of the case be carefully considered. If the Christian
doctrine, as originally taught, admits of true and important
developments, as was argued in the foregoing Section, this is a strong
antecedent argument in favour of a provision in the Dispensation for
putting a seal of authority upon those developments. The probability of
their being known to be true varies with that of their truth. The two
ideas indeed are quite distinct, I grant, of revealing and of
guaranteeing a truth, and they are often distinct in fact. There are
various revelations all over the earth which do not carry with them the
evidence of their divinity. Such are the inward suggestions and secret
illuminations granted to so many individuals; such are the traditionary
doctrines which are found among the heathen, that "vague and unconnected
family of religious truths, originally from God, but sojourning, without
the sanction of miracle or a definite home, as pilgrims up and down the
world, and discernible and separable from the corrupt legends with which
they are mixed, by the spiritual mind alone."[79:1] There is nothing
impossible in the notion of a revelation occurring without evidences
that it is a revelation; just as human sciences are a divine gift, yet
are reached by our ordinary powers and have no claim on our faith. But
Christianity is not of this nature: it is a revelation which comes to us
as a revelation, as a whole, objectively, and with a profession of
infallibility; and the only question to be determined relates to the
matter of the revelation. If then there are certain great truths, or
duties, or observances, naturally and legitimately resulting from the
doctrines originally professed, it is but reasonable to include these
true results in the idea of the revelation itself, to consider them
parts of it, and if the revelation be not only true, but guaranteed as
true, to anticipate that they too will come under the privilege of that
guarantee. Christianity, unlike other revelations of God's will, except
the Jewish, of which it is a continuation, is an objective religion, or
a revelation with credentials; it is natural, I say, to view it wholly
as such, and not partly _sui generis_, partly like others. Such as it
begins, such let it be considered to continue; granting that certain
large developments of it are true, they must surely be accredited as


2. An objection, however, is often made to the doctrine of infallibility
_in limine_, which is too important not to be taken into consideration.
It is urged that, as all religious knowledge rests on moral evidence,
not on demonstration, our belief in the Church's infallibility must be
of this character; but what can be more absurd than a probable
infallibility, or a certainty resting on doubt?--I believe, because I am
sure; and I am sure, because I suppose. Granting then that the gift of
infallibility be adapted, when believed, to unite all intellects in one
common confession, the fact that it is given is as difficult of proof as
the developments which it is to prove, and nugatory therefore, and in
consequence improbable in a Divine Scheme. The advocates of Rome, it has
been urged, "insist on the necessity of an infallible guide in religious
matters, as an argument that such a guide has really been accorded. Now
it is obvious to inquire how individuals are to know with certainty that
Rome _is_ infallible . . . how any ground can be such as to bring home
to the mind infallibly that she is infallible; what conceivable proof
amounts to more than a probability of the fact; and what advantage is an
infallible guide, if those who are to be guided have, after all, no
more than an opinion, as the Romanists call it, that she is


This argument, however, except when used, as is intended in this
passage, against such persons as would remove all imperfection in
the proof of Religion, is certainly a fallacious one. For since,
as all allow, the Apostles were infallible, it tells against their
infallibility, or the infallibility of Scripture, as truly as against
the infallibility of the Church; for no one will say that the Apostles
were made infallible for nothing, yet we are only morally certain that
they were infallible. Further, if we have but probable grounds for the
Church's infallibility, we have but the like for the impossibility of
certain things, the necessity of others, the truth, the certainty of
others; and therefore the words _infallibility_, _necessity_, _truth_,
and _certainty_ ought all of them to be banished from the language. But
why is it more inconsistent to speak of an uncertain infallibility than
of a doubtful truth or a contingent necessity, phrases which present
ideas clear and undeniable? In sooth we are playing with words when we
use arguments of this sort. When we say that a person is infallible, we
mean no more than that what he says is always true, always to be
believed, always to be done. The term is resolvable into these phrases
as its equivalents; either then the phrases are inadmissible, or the
idea of infallibility must be allowed. A probable infallibility is a
probable gift of never erring; a reception of the doctrine of a probable
infallibility is faith and obedience towards a person founded on the
probability of his never erring in his declarations or commands. What is
inconsistent in this idea? Whatever then be the particular means of
determining infallibility, the abstract objection may be put


3. Again, it is sometimes argued that such a dispensation would destroy
our probation, as dissipating doubt, precluding the exercise of faith,
and obliging us to obey whether we wish it or no; and it is urged that a
Divine Voice spoke in the first age, and difficulty and darkness rest
upon all subsequent ones; as if infallibility and personal judgment were
incompatible; but this is to confuse the subject. We must distinguish
between a revelation and a reception of it, not between its earlier and
later stages. A revelation, in itself divine, and guaranteed as such,
may from first to last be received, doubted, argued against, perverted,
rejected, by individuals according to the state of mind of each.
Ignorance, misapprehension, unbelief, and other causes, do not at once
cease to operate because the revelation is in itself true and in its
proofs irrefragable. We have then no warrant at all for saying that an
accredited revelation will exclude the existence of doubts and
difficulties on the part of those whom it addresses, or dispense with
anxious diligence on their part, though it may in its own nature tend
to do so. Infallibility does not interfere with moral probation; the two
notions are absolutely distinct. It is no objection then to the idea of
a peremptory authority, such as I am supposing, that it lessens the task
of personal inquiry, unless it be an objection to the authority of
Revelation altogether. A Church, or a Council, or a Pope, or a Consent
of Doctors, or a Consent of Christendom, limits the inquiries of the
individual in no other way than Scripture limits them: it does limit
them; but, while it limits their range, it preserves intact their
probationary character; we are tried as really, though not on so large a
field. To suppose that the doctrine of a permanent authority in matters
of faith interferes with our free-will and responsibility is, as before,
to forget that there were infallible teachers in the first age, and
heretics and schismatics in the ages subsequent. There may have been at
once a supreme authority from first to last, and a moral judgment from
first to last. Moreover, those who maintain that Christian truth must be
gained solely by personal efforts are bound to show that methods,
ethical and intellectual, are granted to individuals sufficient for
gaining it; else the mode of probation they advocate is less, not more,
perfect than that which proceeds upon external authority. On the whole,
then, no argument against continuing the principle of objectiveness into
the developments of Revelation arises out of the conditions of our moral


4. Perhaps it will be urged that the Analogy of Nature is against our
anticipating the continuance of an external authority which has once
been given; because in the words of the profound thinker who has already
been cited, "We are wholly ignorant what degree of new knowledge it were
to be expected God would give mankind by revelation, upon supposition
of His affording one; or how far, and in what way, He would interpose
miraculously to qualify them to whom He should originally make the
revelation for communicating the knowledge given by it, and to secure
their doing it to the age in which they should live, and to secure its
being transmitted to posterity;" and because "we are not in any sort
able to judge whether it were to be expected that the revelation should
have been committed to writing, or left to be handed down, and
consequently corrupted, by verbal tradition, and at length sunk under
it."[84:1] But this reasoning does not apply here, as has already been
observed; it contemplates only the abstract hypothesis of a revelation,
not the fact of an existing revelation of a particular kind, which may
of course in various ways modify our state of knowledge, by settling
some of those very points which, before it was given, we had no means of
deciding. Nor can it, as I think, be fairly denied that the argument
from analogy in one point of view tells against anticipating a
revelation at all, for an innovation upon the physical order of the
world is by the very force of the terms inconsistent with its ordinary
course. We cannot then regulate our antecedent view of the character of
a revelation by a test which, applied simply, overthrows the very notion
of a revelation altogether. Any how, Analogy is in some sort violated by
the fact of a revelation, and the question before us only relates to the
extent of that violation.


I will hazard a distinction here between the facts of revelation and its
principles:--the argument from Analogy is more concerned with its
principles than with its facts. The revealed facts are special and
singular, not analogous, from the nature of the case: but it is
otherwise with the revealed principles; these are common to all the
works of God: and if the Author of Nature be the Author of Grace, it may
be expected that, while the two systems of facts are distinct and
independent, the principles displayed in them will be the same, and form
a connecting link between them. In this identity of principle lies the
Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion, in Butler's sense of the word.
The doctrine of the Incarnation is a fact, and cannot be paralleled by
anything in nature; the doctrine of Mediation is a principle, and is
abundantly exemplified in its provisions. Miracles are facts;
inspiration is a fact; divine teaching once for all, and a continual
teaching, are each a fact; probation by means of intellectual
difficulties is a principle both in nature and in grace, and may be
carried on in the system of grace either by a standing ordinance of
teaching or by one definite act of teaching, and that with an analogy
equally perfect in either case to the order of nature; nor can we
succeed in arguing from the analogy of that order against a standing
guardianship of revelation without arguing also against its original
bestowal. Supposing the order of nature once broken by the introduction
of a revelation, the continuance of that revelation is but a question of
degree; and the circumstance that a work has begun makes it more
probable than not that it will proceed. We have no reason to suppose
that there is so great a distinction of dispensation between ourselves
and the first generation of Christians, as that they had a living
infallible guidance, and we have not.

The case then stands thus:--Revelation has introduced a new law of
divine governance over and above those laws which appear in the natural
course of the world; and in consequence we are able to argue for the
existence of a standing authority in matters of faith on the analogy of
Nature, and from the fact of Christianity. Preservation is involved in
the idea of creation. As the Creator rested on the seventh day from the
work which He had made, yet He "worketh hitherto;" so He gave the Creed
once for all in the beginning, yet blesses its growth still, and
provides for its increase. His word "shall not return unto Him void, but
accomplish" His pleasure. As creation argues continual governance, so
are Apostles harbingers of Popes.


5. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that, as the essence of all
religion is authority and obedience, so the distinction between natural
religion and revealed lies in this, that the one has a subjective
authority, and the other an objective. Revelation consists in the
manifestation of the Invisible Divine Power, or in the substitution of
the voice of a Lawgiver for the voice of conscience. The supremacy of
conscience is the essence of natural religion; the supremacy of Apostle,
or Pope, or Church, or Bishop, is the essence of revealed; and when such
external authority is taken away, the mind falls back again of necessity
upon that inward guide which it possessed even before Revelation was
vouchsafed. Thus, what conscience is in the system of nature, such is
the voice of Scripture, or of the Church, or of the Holy See, as we may
determine it, in the system of Revelation. It may be objected, indeed,
that conscience is not infallible; it is true, but still it is ever to
be obeyed. And this is just the prerogative which controversialists
assign to the See of St. Peter; it is not in all cases infallible, it
may err beyond its special province, but it has in all cases a claim on
our obedience. "All Catholics and heretics," says Bellarmine, "agree in
two things: first, that it is possible for the Pope, even as pope, and
with his own assembly of councillors, or with General Council, to err in
particular controversies of fact, which chiefly depend on human
information and testimony; secondly, that it is possible for him to err
as a private Doctor, even in universal questions of right, whether of
faith or of morals, and that from ignorance, as sometimes happens to
other doctors. Next, all Catholics agree in other two points, not,
however, with heretics, but solely with each other: first, that the Pope
with General Council cannot err, either in framing decrees of faith or
general precepts of morality; secondly, that the Pope when determining
anything in a doubtful matter, whether by himself or with his own
particular Council, _whether it is possible for him to err or not, is to
be obeyed_ by all the faithful."[87:1] And as obedience to conscience,
even supposing conscience ill-informed, tends to the improvement of our
moral nature, and ultimately of our knowledge, so obedience to our
ecclesiastical superior may subserve our growth in illumination and
sanctity, even though he should command what is extreme or inexpedient,
or teach what is external to his legitimate province.


6. The common sense of mankind does but support a conclusion thus forced
upon us by analogical considerations. It feels that the very idea of
revelation implies a present informant and guide, and that an infallible
one; not a mere abstract declaration of Truths unknown before to man, or
a record of history, or the result of an antiquarian research, but a
message and a lesson speaking to this man and that. This is shown by the
popular notion which has prevailed among us since the Reformation, that
the Bible itself is such a guide; and which succeeded in overthrowing
the supremacy of Church and Pope, for the very reason that it was a
rival authority, not resisting merely, but supplanting it. In
proportion, then, as we find, in matter of fact, that the inspired
Volume is not adapted or intended to subserve that purpose, are we
forced to revert to that living and present Guide, who, at the era of
our rejection of her, had been so long recognized as the dispenser of
Scripture, according to times and circumstances, and the arbiter of all
true doctrine and holy practice to her children. We feel a need, and she
alone of all things under heaven supplies it. We are told that God has
spoken. Where? In a book? We have tried it and it disappoints; it
disappoints us, that most holy and blessed gift, not from fault of its
own, but because it is used for a purpose for which it was not given.
The Ethiopian's reply, when St. Philip asked him if he understood what
he was reading, is the voice of nature: "How can I, unless some man
shall guide me?" The Church undertakes that office; she does what none
else can do, and this is the secret of her power. "The human mind," it
has been said, "wishes to be rid of doubt in religion; and a teacher who
claims infallibility is readily believed on his simple word. We see this
constantly exemplified in the case of individual pretenders among
ourselves. In Romanism the Church pretends to it; she rids herself of
competitors by forestalling them. And probably, in the eyes of her
children, this is not the least persuasive argument for her
infallibility, that she alone of all Churches dares claim it, as if a
secret instinct and involuntary misgivings restrained those rival
communions which go so far towards affecting it."[88:1] These sentences,
whatever be the errors of their wording, surely express a great truth.
The most obvious answer, then, to the question, why we yield to the
authority of the Church in the questions and developments of faith, is,
that some authority there must be if there is a revelation given, and
other authority there is none but she. A revelation is not given, if
there be no authority to decide what it is that is given. In the words
of St. Peter to her Divine Master and Lord, "To whom shall we go?" Nor
must it be forgotten in confirmation, that Scripture expressly calls the
Church "the pillar and ground of the Truth," and promises her as by
covenant that "the Spirit of the Lord that is upon her, and His words
which He has put in her mouth shall not depart out of her mouth, nor out
of the mouth of her seed, nor out of the mouth of her seed's seed, from
henceforth and for ever."[89:1]


7. And if the very claim to infallible arbitration in religious disputes
is of so weighty importance and interest in all ages of the world, much
more is it welcome at a time like the present, when the human intellect
is so busy, and thought so fertile, and opinion so manifold. The
absolute need of a spiritual supremacy is at present the strongest of
arguments in favour of the fact of its supply. Surely, either an
objective revelation has not been given, or it has been provided with
means for impressing its objectiveness on the world. If Christianity be
a social religion, as it certainly is, and if it be based on certain
ideas acknowledged as divine, or a creed, (which shall here be assumed,)
and if these ideas have various aspects, and make distinct impressions
on different minds, and issue in consequence in a multiplicity of
developments, true, or false, or mixed, as has been shown, what power
will suffice to meet and to do justice to these conflicting conditions,
but a supreme authority ruling and reconciling individual judgments by a
divine right and a recognized wisdom? In barbarous times the will is
reached through the senses; but in an age in which reason, as it is
called, is the standard of truth and right, it is abundantly evident to
any one, who mixes ever so little with the world, that, if things are
left to themselves, every individual will have his own view of them, and
take his own course; that two or three will agree to-day to part company
to-morrow; that Scripture will be read in contrary ways, and history,
according to the apologue, will have to different comers its silver
shield and its golden; that philosophy, taste, prejudice, passion,
party, caprice, will find no common measure, unless there be some
supreme power to control the mind and to compel agreement.

There can be no combination on the basis of truth without an organ of
truth. As cultivation brings out the colours of flowers, and
domestication changes the character of animals, so does education of
necessity develope differences of opinion; and while it is impossible to
lay down first principles in which all will unite, it is utterly
unreasonable to expect that this man should yield to that, or all to
one. I do not say there are no eternal truths, such as the poet
proclaims,[90:1] which all acknowledge in private, but that there are
none sufficiently commanding to be the basis of public union and action.
The only general persuasive in matters of conduct is authority; that is,
(when truth is in question,) a judgment which we feel to be superior to
our own. If Christianity is both social and dogmatic, and intended for
all ages, it must humanly speaking have an infallible expounder. Else
you will secure unity of form at the loss of unity of doctrine, or unity
of doctrine at the loss of unity of form; you will have to choose
between a comprehension of opinions and a resolution into parties,
between latitudinarian and sectarian error. You may be tolerant or
intolerant of contrarieties of thought, but contrarieties you will have.
By the Church of England a hollow uniformity is preferred to an
infallible chair; and by the sects of England, an interminable
division. Germany and Geneva began with persecution, and have ended in
scepticism. The doctrine of infallibility is a less violent hypothesis
than this sacrifice either of faith or of charity. It secures the
object, while it gives definiteness and force to the matter, of the


8. I have called the doctrine of Infallibility an hypothesis: let it be
so considered for the sake of argument, that is, let it be considered to
be a mere position, supported by no direct evidence, but required by the
facts of the case, and reconciling them with each other. That hypothesis
is indeed, in matter of fact, maintained and acted on in the largest
portion of Christendom, and from time immemorial; but let this
coincidence be accounted for by the need. Moreover, it is not a naked or
isolated fact, but the animating principle of a large scheme of doctrine
which the need itself could not simply create; but again, let this
system be merely called its development. Yet even as an hypothesis,
which has been held by one out of various communions, it may not be
lightly put aside. Some hypothesis, this or that, all parties, all
controversialists, all historians must adopt, if they would treat of
Christianity at all. Gieseler's "Text Book" bears the profession of
being a dry analysis of Christian history; yet on inspection it will be
found to be written on a positive and definite theory, and to bend facts
to meet it. An unbeliever, as Gibbon, assumes one hypothesis, and an
Ultra-montane, as Baronius, adopts another. The School of Hurd and
Newton hold, as the only true view of history, that Christianity slept
for centuries upon centuries, except among those whom historians call
heretics. Others speak as if the oath of supremacy or the _congé
d'élire_ could be made the measure of St. Ambrose, and they fit the
Thirty-nine Articles on the fervid Tertullian. The question is, which
of all these theories is the simplest, the most natural, the most
persuasive. Certainly the notion of development under infallible
authority is not a less grave, a less winning hypothesis, than the
chance and coincidence of events, or the Oriental Philosophy, or the
working of Antichrist, to account for the rise of Christianity and the
formation of its theology.



I have been arguing, in respect to the revealed doctrine, given to us
from above in Christianity, first, that, in consequence of its
intellectual character, and as passing through the minds of so many
generations of men, and as applied by them to so many purposes, and as
investigated so curiously as to its capabilities, implications, and
bearings, it could not but grow or develope, as time went on, into a
large theological system;--next, that, if development must be, then,
whereas Revelation is a heavenly gift, He who gave it virtually has not
given it, unless He has also secured it from perversion and corruption,
in all such development as comes upon it by the necessity of its nature,
or, in other words, that that intellectual action through successive
generations, which is the organ of development, must, so far forth as it
can claim to have been put in charge of the Revelation, be in its
determinations infallible.

Passing from these two points, I come next to the question whether in
the history of Christianity there is any fulfilment of such anticipation
as I have insisted on, whether in matter-of-fact doctrines, rites, and
usages have grown up round the Apostolic Creed and have interpenetrated
its Articles, claiming to be part of Christianity and looking like those
additions which we are in search of. The answer is, that such additions
there are, and that they are found just where they might be expected, in
the authoritative seats and homes of old tradition, the Latin and Greek
Churches. Let me enlarge on this point.


I observe, then, that, if the idea of Christianity, as originally given
to us from heaven, cannot but contain much which will be only partially
recognized by us as included in it and only held by us unconsciously;
and if again, Christianity being from heaven, all that is necessarily
involved in it, and is evolved from it, is from heaven, and if, on the
other hand, large accretions actually do exist, professing to be its
true and legitimate results, our first impression naturally is, that
these must be the very developments which they profess to be. Moreover,
the very scale on which they have been made, their high antiquity yet
present promise, their gradual formation yet precision, their harmonious
order, dispose the imagination most forcibly towards the belief that a
teaching so consistent with itself, so well balanced, so young and so
old, not obsolete after so many centuries, but vigorous and progressive
still, is the very development contemplated in the Divine Scheme. These
doctrines are members of one family, and suggestive, or correlative, or
confirmatory, or illustrative of each other. One furnishes evidence to
another, and all to each of them; if this is proved, that becomes
probable; if this and that are both probable, but for different reasons,
each adds to the other its own probability. The Incarnation is the
antecedent of the doctrine of Mediation, and the archetype both of the
Sacramental principle and of the merits of Saints. From the doctrine of
Mediation follow the Atonement, the Mass, the merits of Martyrs and
Saints, their invocation and _cultus_. From the Sacramental principle
come the Sacraments properly so called; the unity of the Church, and the
Holy See as its type and centre; the authority of Councils; the sanctity
of rites; the veneration of holy places, shrines, images, vessels,
furniture, and vestments. Of the Sacraments, Baptism is developed into
Confirmation on the one hand; into Penance, Purgatory, and Indulgences
on the other; and the Eucharist into the Real Presence, adoration of the
Host, Resurrection of the body, and the virtue of relics. Again, the
doctrine of the Sacraments leads to the doctrine of Justification;
Justification to that of Original Sin; Original Sin to the merit of
Celibacy. Nor do these separate developments stand independent of each
other, but by cross relations they are connected, and grow together
while they grow from one. The Mass and Real Presence are parts of one;
the veneration of Saints and their relics are parts of one; their
intercessory power and the Purgatorial State, and again the Mass and
that State are correlative; Celibacy is the characteristic mark of
Monachism and of the Priesthood. You must accept the whole or reject the
whole; attenuation does but enfeeble, and amputation mutilate. It is
trifling to receive all but something which is as integral as any other
portion; and, on the other hand, it is a solemn thing to accept any
part, for, before you know where you are, you may be carried on by a
stern logical necessity to accept the whole.


Next, we have to consider that from first to last other developments
there are none, except those which have possession of Christendom; none,
that is, of prominence and permanence sufficient to deserve the name. In
early times the heretical doctrines were confessedly barren and
short-lived, and could not stand their ground against Catholicism. As to
the medieval period I am not aware that the Greeks present more than a
negative opposition to the Latins. And now in like manner the Tridentine
Creed is met by no rival developments; there is no antagonist system.
Criticisms, objections, protests, there are in plenty, but little of
positive teaching anywhere; seldom an attempt on the part of any
opposing school to master its own doctrines, to investigate their sense
and bearing, to determine their relation to the decrees of Trent and
their distance from them. And when at any time this attempt is by chance
in any measure made, then an incurable contrariety does but come to view
between portions of the theology thus developed, and a war of
principles; an impossibility moreover of reconciling that theology with
the general drift of the formularies in which its elements occur, and a
consequent appearance of unfairness and sophistry in adventurous persons
who aim at forcing them into consistency;[95:1] and, further, a
prevalent understanding of the truth of this representation, authorities
keeping silence, eschewing a hopeless enterprise and discouraging it in
others, and the people plainly intimating that they think both doctrine
and usage, antiquity and development, of very little matter at all; and,
lastly, the evident despair of even the better sort of men, who, in
consequence, when they set great schemes on foot, as for the conversion
of the heathen world, are afraid to agitate the question of the
doctrines to which it is to be converted, lest through the opened door
they should lose what they have, instead of gaining what they have not.
To the weight of recommendation which this contrast throws upon the
developments commonly called Catholic, must be added the argument which
arises from the coincidence of their consistency and permanence, with
their claim of an infallible sanction,--a claim, the existence of which,
in some quarter or other of the Divine Dispensation, is, as we have
already seen, antecedently probable. All these things being considered,
I think few persons will deny the very strong presumption which exists,
that, if there must be and are in fact developments in Christianity, the
doctrines propounded by successive Popes and Councils, through so many
ages, are they.


A further presumption in behalf of these doctrines arises from the
general opinion of the world about them. Christianity being one, all its
doctrines are necessarily developments of one, and, if so, are of
necessity consistent with each other, or form a whole. Now the world
fully enters into this view of those well-known developments which claim
the name of Catholic. It allows them that title, it considers them to
belong to one family, and refers them to one theological system. It is
scarcely necessary to set about proving what is urged by their opponents
even more strenuously than by their champions. Their opponents avow that
they protest, not against this doctrine or that, but against one and
all; and they seem struck with wonder and perplexity, not to say with
awe, at a consistency which they feel to be superhuman, though they
would not allow it to be divine. The system is confessed on all hands to
bear a character of integrity and indivisibility upon it, both at first
view and on inspection. Hence such sayings as the "Tota jacet Babylon"
of the distich. Luther did but a part of the work, Calvin another
portion, Socinus finished it. To take up with Luther, and to reject
Calvin and Socinus, would be, according to that epigram, like living in
a house without a roof to it. This, I say, is no private judgment of
this man or that, but the common opinion and experience of all
countries. The two great divisions of religion feel it, Roman Catholic
and Protestant, between whom the controversy lies; sceptics and
liberals, who are spectators of the conflict, feel it; philosophers feel
it. A school of divines there is, I grant, dear to memory, who have not
felt it; and their exception will have its weight,--till we reflect that
the particular theology which they advocate has not the prescription of
success, never has been realized in fact, or, if realized for a moment,
had no stay; moreover, that, when it has been enacted by human
authority, it has scarcely travelled beyond the paper on which it was
printed, or out of the legal forms in which it was embodied. But,
putting the weight of these revered names at the highest, they do not
constitute more than an exception to the general rule, such as is found
in every subject that comes into discussion.


And this general testimony to the oneness of Catholicism extends to its
past teaching relatively to its present, as well as to the portions of
its present teaching one with another. No one doubts, with such
exception as has just been allowed, that the Roman Catholic communion of
this day is the successor and representative of the Medieval Church, or
that the Medieval Church is the legitimate heir of the Nicene; even
allowing that it is a question whether a line cannot be drawn between
the Nicene Church and the Church which preceded it. On the whole, all
parties will agree that, of all existing systems, the present communion
of Rome is the nearest approximation in fact to the Church of the
Fathers, possible though some may think it, to be nearer still to that
Church on paper. Did St. Athanasius or St. Ambrose come suddenly to
life, it cannot be doubted what communion he would take to be his own.
All surely will agree that these Fathers, with whatever opinions of
their own, whatever protests, if we will, would find themselves more at
home with such men as St. Bernard or St. Ignatius Loyola, or with the
lonely priest in his lodging, or the holy sisterhood of mercy, or the
unlettered crowd before the altar, than with the teachers or with the
members of any other creed. And may we not add, that were those same
Saints, who once sojourned, one in exile, one on embassy, at Treves, to
come more northward still, and to travel until they reached another fair
city, seated among groves, green meadows, and calm streams, the holy
brothers would turn from many a high aisle and solemn cloister which
they found there, and ask the way to some small chapel where mass was
said in the populous alley or forlorn suburb? And, on the other hand,
can any one who has but heard his name, and cursorily read his history,
doubt for one instant how, in turn, the people of England, "we, our
princes, our priests, and our prophets," Lords and Commons,
Universities, Ecclesiastical Courts, marts of commerce, great towns,
country parishes, would deal with Athanasius,--Athanasius, who spent his
long years in fighting against sovereigns for a theological term?


[62:1] Doctrine of Justification, Lect. xiii.

[64:1] Butler's Anal. ii. 3.

[67:1] Proph. Office, Lect. xii. [Via Med. vol. i. pp. 292-3].

[72:1] ii. 3; vide also ii. 4, fin.

[75:1] Analogy, ii. 4, _ad fin._

[77:1] Proph. Office, x. [Via Med. p. 250].

[77:2] [Ibid. pp. 247, 254.]

[79:1] Arians, ch. i. sect. 3 [p. 82, ed. 3].

[81:1] Proph. Office [Via Med. vol. i. p. 122].

[81:2] ["It is very common to confuse infallibility with certitude, but
the two words stand for things quite distinct from each other. I
remember for certain what I did yesterday, but still my memory is not
infallible. I am quite clear that two and two makes four, but I often
make mistakes in long addition sums. I have no doubt whatever that John
or Richard is my true friend; but I have before now trusted those who
failed me, and I may do so again before I die. I am quite certain that
Victoria is our sovereign, and not her father, the Duke of Kent, without
any claim myself to the gift of infallibility, as I may do a virtuous
action, without being impeccable. I may be certain that the Church is
infallible, while I am myself a fallible mortal; otherwise I cannot be
certain that the Supreme Being is infallible, unless I am infallible
myself. Certitude is directed to one or other definite concrete
proposition. I am certain of propositions one, two, three, four, or
five, one by one, each by itself. I can be certain of one of them,
without being certain of the rest: that I am certain of the first makes
it neither likely nor unlikely that I am certain of the second: but,
were I infallible, then I should be certain, not only of one of them,
but of all."--_Essay on Assent_, ch. vii. sect. 2.]

[84:1] Anal. ii. 3.

[87:1] De Rom. Pont. iv. 2. [Seven years ago, it is scarcely necessary
to say, the Vatican Council determined that the Pope, _ex cathedrâ_, has
the same infallibility as the Church. This does not affect the argument
in the text.]

[88:1] Proph. Office [Via Med. vol. i. p. 117].

[89:1] 1 Tim. iii. 16; Isa. lix. 21.

[90:1] Οὐ γάρ τι νῦν γε κὰχθές, κ.τ.λ.

[95:1] [_Vid._ Via Media, vol. ii. pp. 231-341.]





It seems, then, that we have to deal with a case something like the
following: Certain doctrines come to us, professing to be Apostolic, and
possessed of such high antiquity that, though we are only able to assign
the date of their formal establishment to the fourth, or the fifth, or
the eighth, or the thirteenth century, as it may happen, yet their
substance may, for what appears, be coeval with the Apostles, and be
expressed or implied in texts of Scripture. Further, these existing
doctrines are universally considered, without any question, in each age
to be the echo of the doctrines of the times immediately preceding them,
and thus are continually thrown back to a date indefinitely early, even
though their ultimate junction with the Apostolic Creed be out of sight
and unascertainable. Moreover, they are confessed to form one body one
with another, so that to reject one is to disparage the rest; and they
include within the range of their system even those primary articles of
faith, as the Incarnation, which many an impugner of the said doctrinal
system, as a system, professes to accept, and which, do what he will,
he cannot intelligibly separate, whether in point of evidence or of
internal character, from others which he disavows. Further, these
doctrines occupy the whole field of theology, and leave nothing to be
supplied, except in detail, by any other system; while, in matter of
fact, no rival system is forthcoming, so that we have to choose between
this theology and none at all. Moreover, this theology alone makes
provision for that guidance of opinion and conduct, which seems
externally to be the special aim of Revelation; and fulfils the promises
of Scripture, by adapting itself to the various problems of thought and
practice which meet us in life. And, further, it is the nearest
approach, to say the least, to the religious sentiment, and what is
called _ethos_, of the early Church, nay, to that of the Apostles and
Prophets; for all will agree so far as this, that Elijah, Jeremiah, the
Baptist, and St. Paul are in their history and mode of life (I do not
speak of measures of grace, no, nor of doctrine and conduct, for these
are the points in dispute, but) in what is external and meets the eye
(and this is no slight resemblance when things are viewed as a whole and
from a distance),--these saintly and heroic men, I say, are more like a
Dominican preacher, or a Jesuit missionary, or a Carmelite friar, more
like St. Toribio, or St. Vincent Ferrer, or St. Francis Xavier, or St.
Alphonso Liguori, than to any individuals, or to any classes of men,
that can be found in other communions. And then, in addition, there is
the high antecedent probability that Providence would watch over His own
work, and would direct and ratify those developments of doctrine which
were inevitable.


If this is, on the whole, a true view of the general shape under which
the existing body of developments, commonly called Catholic, present
themselves before us, antecedently to our looking into the particular
evidence on which they stand, I think we shall be at no loss to
determine what both logical truth and duty prescribe to us as to our
reception of them. It is very little to say that we should treat them as
we are accustomed to treat other alleged facts and truths and the
evidence for them, such as come to us with a fair presumption in their
favour. Such are of every day's occurrence; and what is our behaviour
towards them? We meet them, not with suspicion and criticism, but with a
frank confidence. We do not in the first instance exercise our reason
upon opinions which are received, but our faith. We do not begin with
doubting; we take them on trust, and we put them on trial, and that, not
of set purpose, but spontaneously. We prove them by using them, by
applying them to the subject-matter, or the evidence, or the body of
circumstances, to which they belong, as if they gave it its
interpretation or its colour as a matter of course; and only when they
fail, in the event, in illustrating phenomena or harmonizing facts, do
we discover that we must reject the doctrines or the statements which we
had in the first instance taken for granted. Again, we take the evidence
for them, whatever it be, as a whole, as forming a combined proof; and
we interpret what is obscure in separate portions by such portions as
are clear. Moreover, we bear with these in proportion to the strength of
the antecedent probability in their favour, we are patient with
difficulties in their application, with apparent objections to them
drawn from other matters of fact, deficiency in their comprehensiveness,
or want of neatness in their working, provided their claims on our
attention are considerable.


Thus most men take Newton's theory of gravitation for granted, because
it is generally received, and use it without rigidly testing it first,
each for himself, (as it can be tested,) by phenomena; and if phenomena
are found which it does not satisfactorily solve, this does not trouble
us, for a way there must be of explaining them, consistently with that
theory, though it does not occur to ourselves. Again, if we found a
concise or obscure passage in one of Cicero's letters to Atticus, we
should not scruple to admit as its true explanation a more explicit
statement in his _Ad Familiares_. Æschylus is illustrated by Sophocles
in point of language, and Thucydides by Aristophanes, in point of
history. Horace, Persius, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Juvenal may be made to
throw light upon each other. Even Plato may gain a commentator in
Plotinus, and St. Anselm is interpreted by St. Thomas. Two writers,
indeed, may be already known to differ, and then we do not join them
together as fellow-witnesses to common truths; Luther has taken on
himself to explain St. Augustine, and Voltaire, Pascal, without
persuading the world that they have a claim to do so; but in no case do
we begin with asking whether a comment does not disagree with its text,
when there is a _primâ facie_ congruity between them. We elucidate the
text by the comment, though, or rather because, the comment is fuller
and more explicit than the text.


Thus too we deal with Scripture, when we have to interpret the
prophetical text and the types of the Old Testament. The event which is
the development is also the interpretation of the prediction; it
provides a fulfilment by imposing a meaning. And we accept certain
events as the fulfilment of prophecy from the broad correspondence of
the one with the other, in spite of many incidental difficulties. The
difficulty, for instance, in accounting for the fact that the dispersion
of the Jews followed upon their keeping, not their departing from their
Law, does not hinder us from insisting on their present state as an
argument against the infidel. Again, we readily submit our reason on
competent authority, and accept certain events as an accomplishment of
predictions, which seem very far removed from them; as in the passage,
"Out of Egypt have I called My Son." Nor do we find a difficulty, when
St. Paul appeals to a text of the Old Testament, which stands otherwise
in our Hebrew copies; as the words, "A body hast Thou prepared Me." We
receive such difficulties on faith, and leave them to take care of
themselves. Much less do we consider mere fulness in the interpretation,
or definiteness, or again strangeness, as a sufficient reason for
depriving the text, or the action to which it is applied, of the
advantage of such interpretation. We make it no objection that the words
themselves come short of it, or that the sacred writer did not
contemplate it, or that a previous fulfilment satisfies it. A reader who
came to the inspired text by himself, beyond the influence of that
traditional acceptation which happily encompasses it, would be surprised
to be told that the Prophet's words, "A virgin shall conceive," &c., or
"Let all the Angels of God worship Him," refer to our Lord; but assuming
the intimate connexion between Judaism and Christianity, and the
inspiration of the New Testament, we do not scruple to believe it. We
rightly feel that it is no prejudice to our receiving the prophecy of
Balaam in its Christian meaning, that it is adequately fulfilled in
David; or the history of Jonah, that it is poetical in character and has
a moral in itself like an apologue; or the meeting of Abraham and
Melchizedek, that it is too brief and simple to mean any great thing, as
St. Paul interprets it.


Butler corroborates these remarks, when speaking of the particular
evidence for Christianity. "The obscurity or unintelligibleness," he
says, "of one part of a prophecy does not in any degree invalidate the
proof of foresight, arising from the appearing completion of those other
parts which are understood. For the case is evidently the same as if
those parts, which are not understood, were lost, or not written at all,
or written in an unknown tongue. Whether this observation be commonly
attended to or not, it is so evident that one can scarce bring one's
self to set down an instance in common matters to exemplify it."[104:1]
He continues, "Though a man should be incapable, for want of learning,
or opportunities of inquiry, or from not having turned his studies this
way, even so much as to judge whether particular prophecies have been
throughout completely fulfilled; yet he may see, in general, that they
have been fulfilled to such a degree, as, upon very good ground, to be
convinced of foresight more than human in such prophecies, and of such
events being intended by them. For the same reason also, though, by
means of the deficiencies in civil history, and the different accounts
of historians, the most learned should not be able to make out to
satisfaction that such parts of the prophetic history have been minutely
and throughout fulfilled; yet a very strong proof of foresight may arise
from that general completion of them which is made out; as much proof of
foresight, perhaps, as the Giver of prophecy intended should ever be
afforded by such parts of prophecy."


He illustrates this by the parallel instance of fable and concealed
satire. "A man might be assured that he understood what an author
intended by a fable or parable, related without any application or
moral, merely from seeing it to be easily capable of such application,
and that such a moral might naturally be deduced from it. And he might
be fully assured that such persons and events were intended in a
satirical writing, merely from its being applicable to them. And,
agreeably to the last observation, he might be in a good measure
satisfied of it, though he were not enough informed in affairs, or in
the story of such persons, to understand half the satire. For his
satisfaction, that he understood the meaning, the intended meaning, of
these writings, would be greater or less, in proportion as he saw the
general turn of them to be capable of such application, and in
proportion to the number of particular things capable of it." And he
infers hence, that if a known course of events, or the history of a
person as our Lord, is found to answer on the whole to the prophetical
text, it becomes fairly the right interpretation of that text, in spite
of difficulties in detail. And this rule of interpretation admits of an
obvious application to the parallel case of doctrinal passages, when a
certain creed, which professes to have been derived from Revelation,
comes recommended to us on strong antecedent grounds, and presents no
strong opposition to the sacred text.

The same author observes that the first fulfilment of a prophecy is no
valid objection to a second, when what seems like a second has once
taken place; and, in like manner, an interpretation of doctrinal texts
may be literal, exact, and sufficient, yet in spite of all this may not
embrace what is really the full scope of their meaning; and that fuller
scope, if it so happen, may be less satisfactory and precise, as an
interpretation, than their primary and narrow sense. Thus, if the
Protestant interpretation of the sixth chapter of St. John were true and
sufficient for its letter, (which of course I do not grant,) that would
not hinder the Roman, which at least is quite compatible with the text,
being the higher sense and the only rightful. In such cases the
justification of the larger and higher interpretation lies in some
antecedent probability, such as Catholic consent; and the ground of the
narrow is the context, and the rules of grammar; and, whereas the
argument of the critical commentator is that the sacred text _need not_
mean more than the letter, those who adopt a deeper view of it maintain,
as Butler in the case of prophecy, that we have no warrant for putting a
limit to the sense of words which are not human but divine.


Now it is but a parallel exercise of reasoning to interpret the previous
history of a doctrine by its later development, and to consider that it
contains the later _in posse_ and in the divine intention; and the
grudging and jealous temper, which refuses to enlarge the sacred text
for the fulfilment of prophecy, is the very same that will occupy itself
in carping at the Ante-nicene testimonies for Nicene or Medieval
doctrines and usages. When "I and My Father are One" is urged in proof
of our Lord's unity with the Father, heretical disputants do not see why
the words must be taken to denote more than a unity of will. When "This
is My Body" is alleged as a warrant for the change of the Bread into the
Body of Christ, they explain away the words into a figure, because such
is their most obvious interpretation. And, in like manner, when Roman
Catholics urge St. Gregory's invocations, they are told that these are
but rhetorical; or St. Clement's allusion to Purgatory, that perhaps it
was Platonism; or Origen's language about praying to Angels and the
merits of Martyrs, that it is but an instance of his heterodoxy; or St.
Cyprian's exaltation of the _Cathedra Petri_, that he need not be
contemplating more than a figurative or abstract see; or the general
testimony to the spiritual authority of Rome in primitive times, that it
arose from her temporal greatness; or Tertullian's language about
Tradition and the Church, that he took a lawyer's view of those
subjects; whereas the early condition, and the evidence, of each
doctrine respectively, ought consistently to be interpreted by means of
that development which was ultimately attained.


Moreover, since, as above shown, the doctrines all together make up one
integral religion, it follows that the several evidences which
respectively support those doctrines belong to a whole, and must be
thrown into a common stock, and all are available in the defence of any.
A collection of weak evidences makes up a strong evidence; again, one
strong argument imparts cogency to collateral arguments which are in
themselves weak. For instance, as to the miracles, whether of Scripture
or the Church, "the number of those which carry with them their own
proof now, and are believed for their own sake, is small, and they
furnish the grounds on which we receive the rest."[107:1] Again, no one
would fancy it necessary, before receiving St. Matthew's Gospel, to find
primitive testimony in behalf of every chapter and verse: when only part
is proved to have been in existence in ancient times, the whole is
proved, because that part is but part of a whole; and when the whole is
proved, it may shelter such parts as for some incidental reason have
less evidence of their antiquity. Again, it would be enough to show that
St. Augustine knew the Italic version of the Scriptures, if he quoted it
once or twice. And, in like manner, it will be generally admitted that
the proof of a Second Person in the Godhead lightens greatly the burden
of proof necessary for belief in a Third Person; and that, the Atonement
being in some sort a correlative of eternal punishment, the evidence for
the former doctrine virtually increases the evidence for the latter.
And so, a Protestant controversialist would feel that it told little,
except as an omen of victory, to reduce an opponent to a denial of
Transubstantiation, if he still adhered firmly to the Invocation of
Saints, Purgatory, the Seven Sacraments, and the doctrine of merit; and
little too for one of his own party to condemn the adoration of the
Host, the supremacy of Rome, the acceptableness of celibacy, auricular
confession, communion under one kind, and tradition, if he was zealous
for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.


The principle on which these remarks are made has the sanction of some
of the deepest of English Divines. Bishop Butler, for instance, who has
so often been quoted here, thus argues in behalf of Christianity itself,
though confessing at the same time the disadvantage which in consequence
the revealed system lies under. "Probable proofs," he observes, "by
being added, not only increase the evidence, but multiply it. Nor should
I dissuade any one from setting down what he thought made for the
contrary side. . . . The truth of our religion, like the truth of common
matters, is to be judged by all the evidence taken together. And unless
the whole series of things which may be alleged in this argument, and
every particular thing in it, can reasonably be supposed to have been by
accident (for here the stress of the argument for Christianity lies),
then is the truth of it proved; in like manner, as if, in any common
case, numerous events acknowledged were to be alleged in proof of any
other event disputed, the truth of the disputed event would be proved,
not only if any one of the acknowledged ones did of itself clearly imply
it, but though no one of them singly did so, if the whole of the
acknowledged events, taken together, could not in reason be supposed to
have happened, unless the disputed one were true.

"It is obvious how much advantage the nature of this evidence gives to
those persons who attack Christianity, especially in conversation. For
it is easy to show, in a short and lively manner, that such and such
things are liable to objection, that this and another thing is of little
weight in itself; but impossible to show, in like manner, the united
force of the whole argument in one view."[109:1]

In like manner, Mr. Davison condemns that "vicious manner of reasoning,"
which represents "any insufficiency of the proof, in its several
branches, as so much objection;" which manages "the inquiry so as to
make it appear that, if the divided arguments be inconclusive one by
one, we have a series of exceptions to the truths of religion instead of
a train of favourable presumptions, growing stronger at every step. The
disciple of Scepticism is taught that he cannot fully rely on this or
that motive of belief, that each of them is insecure, and the conclusion
is put upon him that they ought to be discarded one after another,
instead of being connected and combined."[109:2] No work perhaps affords
more specimens in a short compass of the breach of the principle of
reasoning inculcated in these passages, than Barrow's Treatise on the
Pope's Supremacy.


The remarks of these two writers relate to the duty of combining
doctrines which belong to one body, and evidences which relate to one
subject; and few persons would dispute it in the abstract. The
application which has been here made of the principle is this,--that
where a doctrine comes recommended to us by strong presumptions of its
truth, we are bound to receive it unsuspiciously, and use it as a key to
the evidences to which it appeals, or the facts which it professes to
systematize, whatever may be our eventual judgment about it. Nor is it
enough to answer, that the voice of our particular Church, denying this
so-called Catholicism, is an antecedent probability which outweighs all
others and claims our prior obedience, loyally and without reasoning, to
its own interpretation. This may excuse individuals certainly, in
beginning with doubt and distrust of the Catholic developments, but it
only shifts the blame to the particular Church, Anglican or other, which
thinks itself qualified to enforce so peremptory a judgment against the
one and only successor, heir and representative of the Apostolic



Bacon is celebrated for destroying the credit of a method of reasoning
much resembling that which it has been the object of this Chapter to
recommend. "He who is not practised in doubting," he says, "but forward
in asserting and laying down such principles as he takes to be approved,
granted and manifest, and, according to the established truth thereof,
receives or rejects everything, as squaring with or proving contrary to
them, is only fitted to mix and confound things with words, reason with
madness, and the world with fable and fiction, but not to interpret the
works of nature."[110:1] But he was aiming at the application of these
modes of reasoning to what should be strict investigation, and that in
the province of physics; and this he might well censure, without
attempting, (what is impossible,) to banish them from history, ethics,
and religion.

Physical facts are present; they are submitted to the senses, and the
senses may be satisfactorily tested, corrected, and verified. To trust
to anything but sense in a matter of sense is irrational; why are the
senses given us but to supersede less certain, less immediate
informants? We have recourse to reason or authority to determine facts,
when the senses fail us; but with the senses we begin. We deduce, we
form inductions, we abstract, we theorize from facts; we do not begin
with surmise and conjecture, much less do we look to the tradition of
past ages, or the decree of foreign teachers, to determine matters which
are in our hands and under our eyes.

But it is otherwise with history, the facts of which are not present; it
is otherwise with ethics, in which phenomena are more subtle, closer,
and more personal to individuals than other facts, and not referable to
any common standard by which all men can decide upon them. In such
sciences, we cannot rest upon mere facts, if we would, because we have
not got them. We must do our best with what is given us, and look about
for aid from any quarter; and in such circumstances the opinions of
others, the traditions of ages, the prescriptions of authority,
antecedent auguries, analogies, parallel cases, these and the like, not
indeed taken at random, but, like the evidence from the senses, sifted
and scrutinized, obviously become of great importance.


And, further, if we proceed on the hypothesis that a merciful Providence
has supplied us with means of gaining such truth as concerns us, in
different subject-matters, though with different instruments, then the
simple question is, what those instruments are which are proper to a
particular case. If they are of the appointment of a Divine Protector,
we may be sure that they will lead to the truth, whatever they are. The
less exact methods of reasoning may do His work as well as the more
perfect, if He blesses them. He may bless antecedent probabilities in
ethical inquiries, who blesses experience and induction in the art of

And if it is reasonable to consider medicine, or architecture, or
engineering, in a certain sense, divine arts, as being divinely ordained
means of our receiving divine benefits, much more may ethics be called
divine; while as to religion, it directly professes to be the method of
recommending ourselves to Him and learning His will. If then it be His
gracious purpose that we should learn it, the means He gives for
learning it, be they promising or not to human eyes, are sufficient,
because they are His. And what they are at this particular time, or to
this person, depends on His disposition. He may have imposed simple
prayer and obedience on some men as the instrument of their attaining to
the mysteries and precepts of Christianity. He may lead others through
the written word, at least for some stages of their course; and if the
formal basis on which He has rested His revelations be, as it is, of an
historical and philosophical character, then antecedent probabilities,
subsequently corroborated by facts, will be sufficient, as in the
parallel case of other history, to bring us safely to the matter, or at
least to the organ, of those revelations.


Moreover, in subjects which belong to moral proof, such, I mean, as
history, antiquities, political science, ethics, metaphysics, and
theology, which are pre-eminently such, and especially in theology and
ethics, antecedent probability may have a real weight and cogency which
it cannot have in experimental science; and a mature politician or
divine may have a power of reaching matters of fact in consequence of
his peculiar habits of mind, which is seldom given in the same degree to
physical inquirers, who, for the purposes of this particular pursuit,
are very much on a level. And this last remark at least is confirmed by
Lord Bacon, who confesses "Our method of discovering the sciences does
not much depend upon subtlety and strength of genius, but lies level to
almost every capacity and understanding;"[113:1] though surely sciences
there are, in which genius is everything, and rules all but nothing.


It will be a great mistake then to suppose that, because this eminent
philosopher condemned presumption and prescription in inquiries into
facts which are external to us, present with us, and common to us all,
therefore authority, tradition, verisimilitude, analogy, and the like,
are mere "idols of the den" or "of the theatre" in history or ethics.
Here we may oppose to him an author in his own line as great as he is:
"Experience," says Bacon, "is by far the best demonstration, provided it
dwell in the experiment; for the transferring of it to other things
judged alike is very fallacious, unless done with great exactness and
regularity."[113:2] Niebuhr explains or corrects him: "Instances are not
arguments," he grants, when investigating an obscure question of Roman
history,--"instances are not arguments, but in history are scarcely of
less force; above all, where the parallel they exhibit is in the
progressive development of institutions."[113:3] Here this sagacious
writer recognizes the true principle of historical logic, while he
exemplifies it.

The same principle is involved in the well-known maxim of Aristotle,
that "it is much the same to admit the probabilities of a mathematician,
and to look for demonstration from an orator." In all matters of human
life, presumption verified by instances, is our ordinary instrument of
proof, and, if the antecedent probability is great, it almost
supersedes instances. Of course, as is plain, we may err grievously in
the antecedent view which we start with, and in that case, our
conclusions may be wide of the truth; but that only shows that we had no
right to assume a premiss which was untrustworthy, not that our
reasoning was faulty.


I am speaking of the process itself, and its correctness is shown by its
general adoption. In religious questions a single text of Scripture is
all-sufficient with most people, whether the well disposed or the
prejudiced, to prove a doctrine or a duty in cases when a custom is
established or a tradition is strong. "Not forsaking the assembling of
ourselves together" is sufficient for establishing social, public, nay,
Sunday worship. "Where the tree falleth, there shall it lie," shows that
our probation ends with life. "Forbidding to marry" determines the Pope
to be the man of sin. Again, it is plain that a man's after course for
good or bad brings out the passing words or obscure actions of previous
years. Then, on a retrospect, we use the event as a presumptive
interpretation of the past, of those past indications of his character
which, considered as evidence, were too few and doubtful to bear
insisting on at the time, and would have seemed ridiculous, had we
attempted to do so. And the antecedent probability is even found to
triumph over contrary evidence, as well as to sustain what agrees with
it. Every one may know of cases in which a plausible charge against an
individual was borne down at once by weight of character, though that
character was incommensurate of course with the circumstances which gave
rise to suspicion, and had no direct neutralizing force to destroy it.
On the other hand, it is sometimes said, and even if not literally true
will serve in illustration, that not a few of those who are put on trial
in our criminal courts are not legally guilty of the particular crime on
which a verdict is found against them, being convicted not so much upon
the particular evidence, as on the presumption arising from their want
of character and the memory of their former offences. Nor is it in
slight matters only or unimportant that we thus act. Our dearest
interests, our personal welfare, our property, our health, our
reputation, we freely hazard, not on proof, but on a simple probability,
which is sufficient for our conviction, because prudence dictates to us
so to take it. We must be content to follow the law of our being in
religious matters as well as in secular.


But there is more to say on the subordinate position which direct
evidence holds among the _motiva_ of conviction in most matters. It is
no paradox to say that there is a certain scantiness, nay an absence of
evidence, which may even tell in favour of statements which require to
be made good. There are indeed cases in which we cannot discover the law
of silence or deficiency, which are then simply unaccountable. Thus
Lucian, for whatever reason, hardly notices Roman authors or
affairs.[115:1] Maximus Tyrius, who wrote several of his works at Rome,
nevertheless makes no reference to Roman history. Paterculus, the
historian, is mentioned by no ancient writer except Priscian. What is
more to our present purpose, Seneca, Pliny the elder, and Plutarch are
altogether silent about Christianity; and perhaps Epictetus also, and
the Emperor Marcus. The Jewish Mishna, too, compiled about A.D. 180, is
silent about Christianity; and the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmuds
almost so, though the one was compiled about A.D. 300, and the other
A.D. 500.[115:2] Eusebius again, is very uncertain in his notice of
facts: he does not speak of St. Methodius, nor of St. Anthony, nor of
the martyrdom of St. Perpetua, nor of the miraculous powers of St.
Gregory Thaumaturgus; and he mentions Constantine's luminous cross, not
in his Ecclesiastical History, where it would naturally find a place,
but in his Life of the Emperor. Moreover, those who receive that
wonderful occurrence, which is, as one who rejects it allows,[116:1] "so
inexplicable to the historical inquirer," have to explain the difficulty
of the universal silence on the subject of all the Fathers of the fourth
and fifth centuries, excepting Eusebius.

In like manner, Scripture has its unexplained omissions. No religious
school finds its own tenets and usages on the surface of it. The remark
applies also to the very context of Scripture, as in the obscurity which
hangs over Nathanael or the Magdalen. It is a remarkable circumstance
that there is no direct intimation all through Scripture that the
Serpent mentioned in the temptation of Eve was the evil spirit, till we
come to the vision of the Woman and Child, and their adversary, the
Dragon, in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse.


Omissions, thus absolute and singular, when they occur in the evidence
of facts or doctrines, are of course difficulties; on the other hand,
not unfrequently they admit of explanation. Silence may arise from the
very notoriety of the facts in question, as in the case of the seasons,
the weather, or other natural phenomena; or from their sacredness, as
the Athenians would not mention the mythological Furies; or from
external constraint, as the omission of the statues of Brutus and
Cassius in the procession. Or it may proceed from fear or disgust, as on
the arrival of unwelcome news; or from indignation, or hatred, or
contempt, or perplexity, as Josephus is silent about Christianity, and
Eusebius passes over the death of Crispus in his life of Constantine; or
from other strong feeling, as implied in the poet's sentiment, "Give
sorrow words;" or from policy or other prudential motive, or propriety,
as Queen's Speeches do not mention individuals, however influential in
the political world, and newspapers after a time were silent about the
cholera. Or, again, from the natural and gradual course which the fact
took, as in the instance of inventions and discoveries, the history of
which is on this account often obscure; or from loss of documents or
other direct testimonies, as we should not look for theological
information in a treatise on geology.


Again, it frequently happens that omissions proceed on some law, as the
varying influence of an external cause; and then, so far from being a
perplexity, they may even confirm such evidence as occurs, by becoming,
as it were, its correlative. For instance, an obstacle may be
assignable, person, or principle, or accident, which ought, if it
exists, to reduce or distort the indications of a fact to that very
point, or in that very direction, or with the variations, or in the
order and succession, which do occur in its actual history. At first
sight it might be a suspicious circumstance that but one or two
manuscripts of some celebrated document were forthcoming; but if it were
known that the sovereign power had exerted itself to suppress and
destroy it at the time of its publication, and that the extant
manuscripts were found just in those places where history witnessed to
the failure of the attempt, the coincidence would be highly
corroborative of that evidence which alone remained.

Thus it is possible to have too much evidence; that is, evidence so full
or exact as to throw suspicion over the case for which it is adduced.
The genuine Epistles of St. Ignatius contain none of those
ecclesiastical terms, such as "Priest" or "See," which are so frequent
afterwards; and they quote Scripture sparingly. The interpolated
Epistles quote it largely; that is, they are too Scriptural to be
Apostolic. Few persons, again, who are acquainted with the primitive
theology, but will be sceptical at first reading of the authenticity of
such works as the longer Creed of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, or St.
Hippolytus contra Beronem, from the precision of the theological
language, which is unsuitable to the Ante-nicene period.


The influence of circumstances upon the expression of opinion or
testimony supplies another form of the same law of omission. "I am ready
to admit," says Paley, "that the ancient Christian advocates did not
insist upon the miracles in argument so frequently as I should have
done. It was their lot to contend with notions of magical agency,
against which the mere production of the facts was not sufficient for
the convincing of their adversaries; I do not know whether they
themselves thought it quite decisive of the controversy. But since it is
proved, I conceive with certainty, that the sparingness with which they
appealed to miracles was owing neither to their ignorance nor their
doubt of the facts, it is at any rate an objection, not to the truth of
the history, but to the judgment of its defenders."[118:1] And, in like
manner, Christians were not likely to entertain the question of the
abstract allowableness of images in the Catholic ritual, with the actual
superstitions and immoralities of paganism before their eyes. Nor were
they likely to determine the place of the Blessed Mary in our reverence,
before they had duly secured, in the affections of the faithful, the
supreme glory and worship of God Incarnate, her Eternal Lord and Son.
Nor would they recognize Purgatory as a part of the Dispensation, till
the world had flowed into the Church, and a habit of corruption had
been largely superinduced. Nor could ecclesiastical liberty be asserted,
till it had been assailed. Nor would a Pope arise, but in proportion as
the Church was consolidated. Nor would monachism be needed, while
martyrdoms were in progress. Nor could St. Clement give judgment on the
doctrine of Berengarius, nor St. Dionysius refute the Ubiquists, nor St.
Irenæus denounce the Protestant view of Justification, nor St. Cyprian
draw up a theory of toleration. There is "a time for every purpose under
the heaven;" "a time to keep silence and a time to speak."


Sometimes when the want of evidence for a series of facts or doctrines
is unaccountable, an unexpected explanation or addition in the course of
time is found as regards a portion of them, which suggests a ground of
patience as regards the historical obscurity of the rest. Two instances
are obvious to mention, of an accidental silence of clear primitive
testimony as to important doctrines, and its removal. In the number of
the articles of Catholic belief which the Reformation especially
resisted, were the Mass and the sacramental virtue of Ecclesiastical
Unity. Since the date of that movement, the shorter Epistles of St.
Ignatius have been discovered, and the early Liturgies verified; and
this with most men has put an end to the controversy about those
doctrines. The good fortune which has happened to them, may happen to
others; and though it does not, yet that it has happened to them, is to
those others a sort of compensation for the obscurity in which their
early history continues to be involved.


I may seem in these remarks to be preparing the way for a broad
admission of the absence of any sanction in primitive Christianity in
behalf of its medieval form, but I do not make them with this intention.
Not from misgivings of this kind, but from the claims of a sound logic,
I think it right to insist, that, whatever early testimonies I may bring
in support of later developments of doctrine, are in great measure
brought _ex abundante_, a matter of grace, not of compulsion. The _onus
probandi_ is with those who assail a teaching which is, and has long
been, in possession. As for positive evidence in our behalf, they must
take what they can get, if they cannot get as much as they might wish,
inasmuch as antecedent probabilities, as I have said, go so very far
towards dispensing with it. It is a first strong point that, in an idea
such as Christianity, developments cannot but be, and those surely
divine, because it is divine; a second that, if so, they are those very
ones which exist, because there are no others; and a third point is the
fact that they are found just there, where true developments ought to be
found,--namely, in the historic seats of Apostolical teaching and in the
authoritative homes of immemorial tradition.


And, if it be said in reply that the difficulty of admitting these
developments of doctrine lies, not merely in the absence of early
testimony for them, but in the actual existence of distinct testimony
against them,--or, as Chillingworth says, in "Popes against Popes,
Councils against Councils,"--I answer, of course this will be said; but
let the fact of this objection be carefully examined, and its value
reduced to its true measure, before it is used in argument. I grant that
there are "Bishops against Bishops in Church history, Fathers against
Fathers, Fathers against themselves," for such differences in individual
writers are consistent with, or rather are involved in the very idea of
doctrinal development, and consequently are no real objection to it;
the one essential question is whether the recognized organ of teaching,
the Church herself, acting through Pope or Council as the oracle of
heaven, has ever contradicted her own enunciations. If so, the
hypothesis which I am advocating is at once shattered; but, till I have
positive and distinct evidence of the fact, I am slow to give credence
to the existence of so great an improbability.


[104:1] Anal. ii. 7.

[107:1] [On Miracles, Essay ii. 111.]

[109:1] Anal. ii. 7.

[109:2] On Prophecy, i. p. 28.

[110:1] Aphor. 5, vol. iv. p. xi. ed. 1815.

[113:1] Nov. Org. i. 2, § 26, vol. iv. p. 29.

[113:2] Nov. Org. § 70, p. 44.

[113:3] Hist. of Rome, vol. i. p. 345, ed. 1828.

[115:1] Lardner's Heath. Test. p. 22.

[115:2] Paley's Evid. p. i. prop. 1, 7.

[116:1] Milman, Christ. vol. ii. p. 352.

[118:1] Evidences, iii. 5.



It follows now to inquire how much evidence is actually producible for
those large portions of the present Creed of Christendom, which have not
a recognized place in the primordial idea and the historical outline of
the Religion, yet which come to us with certain antecedent
considerations strong enough in reason to raise the effectiveness of
that evidence to a point disproportionate, as I have allowed, to its
intrinsic value. In urging these considerations here, of course I
exclude for the time the force of the Church's claim of infallibility in
her acts, for which so much can be said, but I do not exclude the
logical cogency of those acts, considered as testimonies to the faith of
the times before them.

My argument then is this:--that, from the first age of Christianity, its
teaching looked towards those ecclesiastical dogmas, afterwards
recognized and defined, with (as time went on) more or less determinate
advance in the direction of them; till at length that advance became so
pronounced, as to justify their definition and to bring it about, and to
place them in the position of rightful interpretations and keys of the
remains and the records in history of the teaching which had so


This line of argument is not unlike that which is considered to
constitute a sufficient proof of truths in physical science. An
instance of this is furnished us in a work on Mechanics of the past
generation, by a writer of name, and his explanation of it will serve as
an introduction to our immediate subject. After treating of the laws of
motion, he goes on to observe, "These laws are the simplest principles
to which motion can be reduced, and upon them the whole theory depends.
They are not indeed self-evident, nor do they admit of accurate proof by
experiment, on account of the great nicety required in adjusting the
instruments and making the experiments; and on account of the effects of
friction, and the air's resistance, which cannot entirely be removed.
They are, however, constantly, and invariably, suggested to our senses,
and they agree with experiment as far as experiment can go; and the more
accurately the experiments are made, and the greater care we take to
remove all those impediments which tend to render the conclusions
erroneous, the more nearly do the experiments coincide with these
laws."[123:1] And thus a converging evidence in favour of certain
doctrines may, under circumstances, be as clear a proof of their
Apostolical origin as can be reached practically from the _Quod semper,
quod ubique, quod ab omnibus_.

In such a method of proof there is, first, an imperfect, secondly, a
growing evidence, thirdly, in consequence a delayed inference and
judgment, fourthly, reasons producible to account for the delay.




(1.) _Canon of the New Testament._

As regards the New Testament, Catholics and Protestants receive the
same books as canonical and inspired; yet among those books some are to
be found, which certainly have no right there if, following the rule of
Vincentius, we receive nothing as of divine authority but what has been
received always and everywhere. The degrees of evidence are very various
for one book and another. "It is confessed," says Less, "that not all
the Scriptures of our New Testament have been received with universal
consent as genuine works of the Evangelists and Apostles. But that man
must have predetermined to oppose the most palpable truths, and must
reject all history, who will not confess that the _greater_ part of the
New Testament has been universally received as authentic, and that the
remaining books have been acknowledged as such by the _majority_ of the


For instance, as to the Epistle of St. James. It is true, it is
contained in the old Syriac version in the second century; but Origen,
in the third century, is the first writer who distinctly mentions it
among the Greeks; and it is not quoted by name by any Latin till the
fourth. St. Jerome speaks of its gaining credit "by degrees, in process
of time." Eusebius says no more than that it had been, up to his time,
acknowledged by the majority; and he classes it with the Shepherd of St.
Hermas and the Epistle of St. Barnabas.[124:2]

Again: "The Epistle to the Hebrews, though received in the East, was not
received in the Latin Churches till St. Jerome's time. St. Irenæus
either does not affirm, or denies that it is St. Paul's. Tertullian
ascribes it to St. Barnabas. Caius excludes it from his list. St.
Hippolytus does not receive it. St. Cyprian is silent about it. It is
doubtful whether St. Optatus received it."[124:3]

Again, St. Jerome tells us, that in his day, towards A.D. 400, the
Greek Church rejected the Apocalypse, but the Latin received it.

Again: "The New Testament consists of twenty-seven books in all, though
of varying importance. Of these, fourteen are not mentioned at all till
from eighty to one hundred years after St. John's death, in which number
are the Acts, the Second to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the
Colossians, the Two to the Thessalonians, and St. James. Of the other
thirteen, five, viz. St. John's Gospel, the Philippians, the First to
Timothy, the Hebrews, and the First of St. John are quoted but by one
writer during the same period."[125:1]


On what ground, then, do we receive the Canon as it comes to us, but on
the authority of the Church of the fourth and fifth centuries? The
Church at that era decided--not merely bore testimony, but passed a
judgment on former testimony,--decided, that certain books were of
authority. And on what ground did she so decide? on the ground that
hitherto a decision had been impossible, in an age of persecution, from
want of opportunities for research, discussion, and testimony, from the
private or the local character of some of the books, and from
misapprehension of the doctrine contained in others. Now, however,
facilities were at length given for deciding once for all on what had
been in suspense and doubt for three centuries. On this subject I will
quote another passage from the same Tract: "We depend upon the fourth
and fifth centuries thus:--As to Scripture, former centuries do not
speak distinctly, frequently, or unanimously, except of some chief
books, as the Gospels; but we see in them, as we believe, an
ever-growing tendency and approximation to that full agreement which we
find in the fifth. The testimony given at the latter date is the limit
to which all that has been before said converges. For instance, it is
commonly said, _Exceptio probat regulam_; when we have reason to think
that a writer or an age would have witnessed so and so, _but for_ this
or that, and that this or that were mere accidents of his position, then
he or it may be said to _tend towards_ such testimony. In this way the
first centuries tend towards the fifth. Viewing the matter as one of
moral evidence, we seem to see in the testimony of the fifth the very
testimony which every preceding century gave, accidents excepted, such
as the present loss of documents once extant, or the then existing
misconceptions which want of intercourse between the Churches
occasioned. The fifth century acts as a comment on the obscure text of
the centuries before it, and brings out a meaning, which with the help
of the comment any candid person sees really to be theirs."[126:1]


(2.) _Original Sin._

I have already remarked upon the historical fact, that the recognition
of Original Sin, considered as the consequence of Adam's fall, was, both
as regards general acceptance and accurate understanding, a gradual
process, not completed till the time of Augustine and Pelagius. St.
Chrysostom lived close up to that date, but there are passages in his
works, often quoted, which we should not expect to find worded as they
stand, if they had been written fifty years later. It is commonly, and
reasonably, said in explanation, that the fatalism, so prevalent in
various shapes pagan and heretical, in the first centuries, was an
obstacle to an accurate apprehension of the consequences of the fall, as
the presence of the existing idolatry was to the use of images. If this
be so, we have here an instance of a doctrine held back for a time by
circumstances, yet in the event forcing its way into its normal shape,
and at length authoritatively fixed in it, that is, of a doctrine held
implicitly, then asserting itself, and at length fully developed.


(3.) _Infant Baptism._

One of the passages of St. Chrysostom to which I might refer is this,
"We baptize infants, though they are not defiled with sin, that they may
receive sanctity, righteousness, adoption, heirship, brotherhood with
Christ, and may become His members." (_Aug. contr. Jul._ i. 21.) This at
least shows that he had a clear view of the importance and duty of
infant baptism, but such was not the case even with saints in the
generation immediately before him. As is well known, it was not unusual
in that age of the Church for those, who might be considered
catechumens, to delay their baptism, as Protestants now delay reception
of the Holy Eucharist. It is difficult for us at this day to enter into
the assemblage of motives which led to this postponement; to a keen
sense and awe of the special privileges of baptism which could only once
be received, other reasons would be added,--reluctance to being
committed to a strict rule of life, and to making a public profession of
religion, and to joining in a specially intimate fellowship or
solidarity with strangers. But so it was in matter of fact, for reasons
good or bad, that infant baptism, which is a fundamental rule of
Christian duty with us, was less earnestly insisted on in early times.


Even in the fourth century St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Basil, and St.
Augustine, having Christian mothers, still were not baptized till they
were adults. St. Gregory's mother dedicated him to God immediately on
his birth; and again when he had come to years of discretion, with the
rite of taking the gospels into his hands by way of consecration. He was
religiously-minded from his youth, and had devoted himself to a single
life. Yet his baptism did not take place till after he had attended the
schools of Cæsarea, Palestine, and Alexandria, and was on his voyage to
Athens. He had embarked during the November gales, and for twenty days
his life was in danger. He presented himself for baptism as soon as he
got to land. St. Basil was the son of Christian confessors on both
father's and mother's side. His grandmother Macrina, who brought him up,
had for seven years lived with her husband in the woods of Pontus during
the Decian persecution. His father was said to have wrought miracles;
his mother, an orphan of great beauty of person, was forced from her
unprotected state to abandon the hope of a single life, and was
conspicuous in matrimony for her care of strangers and the poor, and for
her offerings to the churches. How religiously she brought up her
children is shown by the singular blessing, that four out of ten have
since been canonized as Saints. St. Basil was one of these; yet the
child of such parents was not baptized till he had come to man's
estate,--till, according to the Benedictine Editor, his twenty-first,
and perhaps his twenty-ninth, year. St. Augustine's mother, who is
herself a Saint, was a Christian when he was born, though his father was
not. Immediately on his birth, he was made a catechumen; in his
childhood he fell ill, and asked for baptism. His mother was alarmed,
and was taking measures for his reception into the Church, when he
suddenly got better, and it was deferred. He did not receive baptism
till the age of thirty-three, after he had been for nine years a victim
of Manichæan error. In like manner, St. Ambrose, though brought up by
his mother and holy nuns, one of them his own sister St. Marcellina, was
not baptized till he was chosen bishop at the age of about thirty-four,
nor his brother St. Satyrus till about the same age, after the serious
warning of a shipwreck. St. Jerome too, though educated at Rome, and so
far under religious influences, as, with other boys, to be in the
observance of Sunday, and of devotions in the catacombs, had no friend
to bring him to baptism, till he had reached man's estate and had


Now how are the modern sects, which protest against infant baptism, to
be answered by Anglicans with this array of great names in their favour?
By the later rule of the Church surely; by the _dicta_ of some later
Saints, as by St. Chrysostom; by one or two inferences from Scripture;
by an argument founded on the absolute necessity of Baptism for
salvation,--sufficient reasons certainly, but impotent to reverse the
fact that neither in Dalmatia nor in Cappadocia, neither in Rome, nor in
Africa, was it then imperative on Christian parents, as it is now, to
give baptism to their young children. It was on retrospect and after the
truths of the Creed had sunk into the Christian mind, that the authority
of such men as St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustine brought
round the _orbis terrarum_ to the conclusion, which the infallible
Church confirmed, that observance of the rite was the rule, and the
non-observance the exception.


(4.) _Communion in one kind._

In the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Council of Constance
pronounced that, "though in the primitive Church the Sacrament" of the
Eucharist "was received by the faithful under each kind, yet the custom
has been reasonably introduced, for the avoiding of certain dangers and
scandals, that it should be received by the consecrators under each
kind, and by the laity only under the kind of Bread; since it is most
firmly to be believed, and in no wise doubted, that the whole Body and
Blood of Christ is truly contained as well under the kind of Bread as
under the kind of Wine."

Now the question is, whether the doctrine here laid down, and carried
into effect in the usage here sanctioned, was entertained by the early
Church, and may be considered a just development of its principles and
practices. I answer that, starting with the presumption that the Council
has ecclesiastical authority, which is the point here to be assumed, we
shall find quite enough for its defence, and shall be satisfied to
decide in the affirmative; we shall readily come to the conclusion that
Communion under either kind is lawful, each kind conveying the full gift
of the Sacrament.

For instance, Scripture affords us two instances of what may reasonably
be considered the administration of the form of Bread without that of
Wine; viz. our Lord's own example towards the two disciples at Emmaus,
and St. Paul's action at sea during the tempest. Moreover, St. Luke
speaks of the first Christians as continuing in the "_breaking of
bread_, and in prayer," and of the first day of the week "when they came
together to _break bread_."

And again, in the sixth chapter of St. John, our Lord says absolutely,
"He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." And, though He distinctly
promises that we shall have it granted to us to drink His blood, as well
as to eat His flesh; nevertheless, not a word does He say to signify
that, as He is the Bread from heaven and the living Bread, so He is the
heavenly, living Wine also. Again, St. Paul says that "whosoever shall
eat this Bread _or_ drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be
guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord."

Many of the types of the Holy Eucharist, as far as they go, tend to the
same conclusion; as the Manna, to which our Lord referred, the Paschal
Lamb, the Shewbread, the sacrifices from which the blood was poured out,
and the miracle of the loaves, which are figures of the bread alone;
while the water from the rock, and the Blood from our Lord's side
correspond to the wine without the bread. Others are representations of
both kinds; as Melchizedek's feast, and Elijah's miracle of the meal and


And, further, it certainly was the custom in the early Church, under
circumstances, to communicate in one kind, as we learn from St. Cyprian,
St. Dionysius, St. Basil, St. Jerome, and others. For instance, St.
Cyprian speaks of the communion of an infant under Wine, and of a woman
under Bread; and St. Ambrose speaks of his brother in shipwreck folding
the consecrated Bread in a handkerchief, and placing it round his neck;
and the monks and hermits in the desert can hardly be supposed to have
been ordinarily in possession of consecrated Wine as well as Bread. From
the following Letter of St. Basil, it appears that, not only the monks,
but the whole laity of Egypt ordinarily communicated in Bread only. He
seems to have been asked by his correspondent, whether in time of
persecution it was lawful, in the absence of priest or deacon, to take
the communion "in one's own _hand_," that is, of course, the Bread; he
answers that it may be justified by the following parallel cases, in
mentioning which he is altogether silent about the Cup. "It is plainly
no fault," he says, "for long custom supplies instances enough to
sanction it. For all the monks in the desert, where there is no priest,
keep the communion at home, and partake it from themselves. In
Alexandria too, and in Egypt, each of the laity, for the most part, has
the Communion in his house, and, when he will, he partakes it by means
of himself. For when once the priest has celebrated the Sacrifice and
given it, he who takes it as a whole together, and then partakes of it
daily, reasonably ought to think that he partakes and receives from him
who has given it."[132:1] It should be added, that in the beginning of
the Letter he may be interpreted to speak of communion in both kinds,
and to say that it is "good and profitable."

Here we have the usage of Pontus, Egypt, Africa, and Milan. Spain may be
added, if a late author is right in his view of the meaning of a Spanish
Canon;[132:2] and Syria, as well as Egypt, at least at a later date,
since Nicephorus[132:3] tells us that the Acephali, having no Bishops,
kept the Bread which their last priests had consecrated, and dispensed
crumbs of it every year at Easter for the purposes of Communion.


But it may be said, that after all it is so very hazardous and fearful a
measure actually to withdraw from Christians one-half of the Sacrament,
that, in spite of these precedents, some direct warrant is needed to
reconcile the mind to it. There might have been circumstances which led
St. Cyprian, or St. Basil, or the Apostolical Christians before them to
curtail it, about which we know nothing. It is not therefore safe in us,
because it was safe in them. Certainly a warrant is necessary; and just
such a warrant is the authority of the Church. If we can trust her
implicitly, there is nothing in the state of the evidence to form an
objection to her decision in this instance, and in proportion as we find
we can trust her does our difficulty lessen. Moreover, children, not to
say infants, were at one time admitted to the Eucharist, at least to the
Cup; on what authority are they now excluded from Cup and Bread also?
St. Augustine considered the usage to be of Apostolical origin; and it
continued in the West down to the twelfth century; it continues in the
East among Greeks, Russo-Greeks, and the various Monophysite Churches to
this day, and that on the ground of its almost universality in the
primitive Church.[133:1] Is it a greater innovation to suspend the Cup,
than to cut off children from Communion altogether? Yet we acquiesce in
the latter deprivation without a scruple. It is safer to acquiesce with,
than without, an authority; safer with the belief that the Church is the
pillar and ground of the truth, than with the belief that in so great a
matter she is likely to err.


(5.) _The Homoüsion._

The next instance I shall take is from the early teaching on the subject
of our Lord's Consubstantiality and Co-eternity.

In the controversy carried on by various learned men in the seventeenth
and following century, concerning the statements of the early Fathers on
this subject, the one party determined the patristic theology by the
literal force of the separate expressions or phrases used in it, or by
the philosophical opinions of the day; the other, by the doctrine of the
Catholic Church, as afterwards authoritatively declared. The one party
argued that those Fathers _need not_ have meant more than what was
afterwards considered heresy; the other answered that there is _nothing
to prevent_ their meaning more. Thus the position which Bull maintains
seems to be nothing beyond this, that the Nicene Creed is a natural key
for interpreting the body of Ante-nicene theology. His very aim is to
explain difficulties; now the notion of difficulties and their
explanation implies a rule to which they are apparent exceptions, and in
accordance with which they are to be explained. Nay, the title of his
work, which is a "Defence of the Creed of Nicæa," shows that he is not
investigating what is true and what false, but explaining and justifying
a foregone conclusion, as sanctioned by the testimony of the great
Council. Unless the statements of the Fathers had suggested
difficulties, his work would have had no object. He allows that their
language is not such as they would have used after the Creed had been
imposed; but he says in effect that, if we will but take it in our hands
and apply it equitably to their writings, we shall bring out and
harmonize their teaching, clear their ambiguities, and discover their
anomalous statements to be few and insignificant. In other words, he
begins with a presumption, and shows how naturally facts close round it
and fall in with it, if we will but let them. He does this triumphantly,
yet he has an arduous work; out of about thirty writers whom he reviews,
he has, for one cause or other, to "explain piously" nearly twenty.



Bishop Bull's controversy had regard to Ante-nicene writers only, and to
little more than to the doctrine of the Divine Son's consubstantiality
and co-eternity; and, as being controversy, it necessarily narrows and
dries up a large and fertile subject. Let us see whether, treated
historically, it will not present itself to us in various aspects which
may rightly be called developments, as coming into view, one out of
another, and following one after another by a natural order of


First then, that the language of the Ante-nicene Fathers, on the subject
of our Lord's Divinity, may be far more easily accommodated to the Arian
hypothesis than can the language of the Post-nicene, is agreed on all
hands. Thus St. Justin speaks of the Son as subservient to the Father in
the creation of the world, as seen by Abraham, as speaking to Moses from
the bush, as appearing to Joshua before the fall of Jericho,[135:1] as
Minister and Angel, and as numerically distinct from the Father.
Clement, again, speaks of the Word[135:2] as the "Instrument of God,"
"close to the Sole Almighty;" "ministering to the Omnipotent Father's
will;"[135:3] "an energy, so to say, or operation of the Father," and
"constituted by His will as the cause of all good."[135:4] Again, the
Council of Antioch, which condemned Paul of Samosata, says that He
"appears to the Patriarchs and converses with them, being testified
sometimes to be an Angel, at other times Lord, at others God;" that,
while "it is impious to think that the God of all is called an Angel,
the Son is the Angel of the Father."[136:1] Formal proof, however, is
unnecessary; had not the fact been as I have stated it, neither Sandius
would have professed to differ from the Post-nicene Fathers, nor would
Bull have had to defend the Ante-nicene.


One principal change which took place, as time went on, was the
following: the Ante-nicene Fathers, as in some of the foregoing
extracts, speak of the Angelic visions in the Old Testament as if they
were appearances of the Son; but St. Augustine introduced the explicit
doctrine, which has been received since his date, that they were simply
Angels, through whom the Omnipresent Son manifested Himself. This indeed
is the only interpretation which the Ante-nicene statements admitted, as
soon as reason began to examine what they did mean. They could not mean
that the Eternal God could really be seen by bodily eyes; if anything
was seen, that must have been some created glory or other symbol, by
which it pleased the Almighty to signify His Presence. What was heard
was a sound, as external to His Essence, and as distinct from His
Nature, as the thunder or the voice of the trumpet, which pealed along
Mount Sinai; what it was had not come under discussion till St.
Augustine; both question and answer were alike undeveloped. The earlier
Fathers spoke as if there were no medium interposed between the Creator
and the creature, and so they seemed to make the Eternal Son the medium;
what it really was, they had not determined. St. Augustine ruled, and
his ruling has been accepted in later times, that it was not a mere
atmospheric phenomenon, or an impression on the senses, but the material
form proper to an Angelic presence, or the presence of an Angel in that
material garb in which blessed Spirits do ordinarily appear to men.
Henceforth the Angel in the bush, the voice which spoke with Abraham,
and the man who wrestled with Jacob, were not regarded as the Son of
God, but as Angelic ministers, whom He employed, and through whom He
signified His presence and His will. Thus the tendency of the
controversy with the Arians was to raise our view of our Lord's
Mediatorial acts, to impress them on us in their divine rather than
their human aspect, and to associate them more intimately with the
ineffable glories which surround the Throne of God. The Mediatorship was
no longer regarded in itself, in that prominently subordinate place
which it had once occupied in the thoughts of Christians, but as an
office assumed by One, who though having become man in order to bear it,
was still God.[137:1] Works and attributes, which had hitherto been
assigned to the Economy or to the Sonship, were now simply assigned to
the Manhood. A tendency was also elicited, as the controversy proceeded,
to contemplate our Lord more distinctly in His absolute perfections,
than in His relation to the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus,
whereas the Nicene Creed speaks of the "Father Almighty," and "His
Only-begotten Son, our Lord, God from God, Light from Light, Very God
from Very God," and of the Holy Ghost, "the Lord and Giver of Life," we
are told in the Athanasian of "the Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and
the Holy Ghost Eternal," and that "none is afore or after other, none is
greater or less than another."


The Apollinarian and Monophysite controversy, which followed in the
course of the next century, tended towards a development in the same
direction. Since the heresies, which were in question, maintained, at
least virtually, that our Lord was not man, it was obvious to insist on
the passages of Scripture which describe His created and subservient
nature, and this had the immediate effect of interpreting of His manhood
texts which had hitherto been understood more commonly of His Divine
Sonship. Thus, for instance, "My Father is greater than I," which had
been understood even by St. Athanasius of our Lord as God, is applied by
later writers more commonly to His humanity; and in this way the
doctrine of His subordination to the Eternal Father, which formed so
prominent a feature in Ante-nicene theology, comparatively fell into the


And coincident with these changes, a most remarkable result is
discovered. The Catholic polemic, in view of the Arian and Monophysite
errors, being of this character, became the natural introduction to the
_cultus Sanctorum_; for in proportion as texts descriptive of created
mediation ceased to belong to our Lord, so was a room opened for created
mediators. Nay, as regards the instance of Angelic appearances itself,
as St. Augustine explained them, if those appearances were creatures,
certainly creatures were worshipped by the Patriarchs, not indeed in
themselves,[138:1] but as the token of a Presence greater than
themselves. When "Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon
God," he hid his face before a creature; when Jacob said, "I have seen
God face to face and my life is preserved," the Son of God was there,
but what he saw, what he wrestled with, was an Angel. When "Joshua fell
on his face to the earth and did worship before the captain of the
Lord's host, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?"
what was seen and heard was a glorified creature, if St. Augustine is
to be followed; and the Son of God was in him.

And there were plain precedents in the Old Testament for the lawfulness
of such adoration. When "the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the
tabernacle-door," "all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in
his tent-door."[139:1] When Daniel too saw "a certain man clothed in
linen" "there remained no strength" in him, for his "comeliness was
turned" in him "into corruption." He fell down on his face, and next
remained on his knees and hands, and at length "stood trembling," and
said "O my Lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have
retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my Lord talk with
this my Lord?"[139:2] It might be objected perhaps to this argument,
that a worship which was allowable in an elementary system might be
unlawful when "grace and truth" had come "through Jesus Christ;" but
then it might be retorted surely, that that elementary system had been
emphatically opposed to all idolatry, and had been minutely jealous of
everything which might approach to favouring it. Nay, the very
prominence given in the Pentateuch to the doctrine of a Creator, and the
comparative silence concerning the Angelic creation, and the prominence
given to the Angelic creation in the later Prophets, taken together,
were a token both of that jealousy, and of its cessation, as time went
on. Nor can anything be concluded from St. Paul's censure of Angel
worship, since the sin which he is denouncing was that of "not holding
the Head," and of worshipping creatures _instead_ of the Creator as the
source of good. The same explanation avails for passages like those in
St. Athanasius and Theodoret, in which the worship of Angels is


The Arian controversy had led to another development, which confirmed by
anticipation the _cultus_ to which St. Augustine's doctrine pointed. In
answer to the objection urged against our Lord's supreme Divinity from
texts which speak of His exaltation, St. Athanasius is led to insist
forcibly on the benefits which have accrued to man through it. He says
that, in truth, not Christ, but that human nature which He had assumed,
was raised and glorified in Him. The more plausible was the heretical
argument against His Divinity from those texts, the more emphatic is St.
Athanasius's exaltation of our regenerate nature by way of explaining
them. But intimate indeed must be the connexion between Christ and His
brethren, and high their glory, if the language which seemed to belong
to the Incarnate Word really belonged to them. Thus the pressure of the
controversy elicited and developed a truth, which till then was held
indeed by Christians, but less perfectly realized and not publicly
recognized. The sanctification, or rather the deification of the nature
of man, is one main subject of St. Athanasius's theology. Christ, in
rising, raises His Saints with Him to the right hand of power. They
become instinct with His life, of one body with His flesh, divine sons,
immortal kings, gods. He is in them, because He is in human nature; and
He communicates to them that nature, deified by becoming His, that them
It may deify. He is in them by the Presence of His Spirit, and in them
He is seen. They have those titles of honour by participation, which are
properly His. Without misgiving we may apply to them the most sacred
language of Psalmists and Prophets. "Thou art a Priest for ever" may be
said of St. Polycarp or St. Martin as well as of their Lord. "He hath
dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor," was fulfilled in St.
Laurence. "I have found David My servant," first said typically of the
King of Israel, and belonging really to Christ, is transferred back
again by grace to His Vicegerents upon earth. "I have given thee the
nations for thine inheritance" is the prerogative of Popes; "Thou hast
given him his heart's desire," the record of a martyr; "thou hast loved
righteousness and hated iniquity," the praise of Virgins.


"As Christ," says St. Athanasius, "died, and was exalted as man, so, as
man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, in order that even
this so high a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word did not
suffer loss in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace,
but rather He deified that which He put on, nay, gave it graciously to
the race of man. . . . For it is the Father's glory, that man, made and
then lost, should be found again; and, when done to death, that he
should be made alive, and should become God's temple. For whereas the
powers in heaven, both Angels and Archangels, were ever worshipping the
Lord, as they are now too worshipping Him in the Name of Jesus, this is
our grace and high exaltation, that, even when He became man, the Son of
God is worshipped, and the heavenly powers are not startled at seeing
all of us, who are of one body with Him, introduced into their
realms."[141:1] In this passage it is almost said that the glorified
Saints will partake in the homage paid by Angels to Christ, the True
Object of all worship; and at least a reason is suggested to us by it
for the Angel's shrinking in the Apocalypse from the homage of St. John,
the Theologian and Prophet of the Church.[141:2] But St. Athanasius
proceeds still more explicitly, "In that the Lord, even when come in
human body and called Jesus, was worshipped and believed to be God's
Son, and that through Him the Father is known, it is plain, as has been
said, that, _not the Word_, considered as the Word, received this so
great grace, _but we_. For, because of our relationship to His Body, we
too have become God's temple, and in consequence have been made God's
sons, so that _even in us the Lord is now worshipped_, and beholders
report, as the Apostle says, that 'God is in them of a truth.'"[142:1]
It appears to be distinctly stated in this passage, that those who are
formally recognized as God's adopted sons in Christ, are fit objects of
worship on account of Him who is in them; a doctrine which both
interprets and accounts for the invocation of Saints, the _cultus_ of
relics, and the religious veneration in which even the living have
sometimes been held, who, being saintly, were distinguished by
miraculous gifts.[142:2] Worship then is the necessary correlative of
glory; and in the same sense in which created natures can share in the
Creator's incommunicable glory, are they also allowed a share of that
worship which is His property alone.


There was one other subject on which the Arian controversy had a more
intimate, though not an immediate influence. Its tendency to give a new
interpretation to the texts which speak of our Lord's subordination, has
already been noticed; such as admitted of it were henceforth explained
more prominently of His manhood than of His Mediatorship or His Sonship.
But there were other texts which did not admit of this interpretation,
and which, without ceasing to belong to Him, might seem more directly
applicable to a creature than to the Creator. He indeed was really the
"Wisdom in whom the Father eternally delighted," yet it would be but
natural, if, under the circumstances of Arian misbelief, theologians
looked out for other than the Eternal Son to be the immediate object of
such descriptions. And thus the controversy opened a question which it
did not settle. It discovered a new sphere, if we may so speak, in the
realms of light, to which the Church had not yet assigned its
inhabitant. Arianism had admitted that our Lord was both the God of the
Evangelical Covenant, and the actual Creator of the Universe; but even
this was not enough, because it did not confess Him to be the One,
Everlasting, Infinite, Supreme Being, but as one who was made by the
Supreme. It was not enough in accordance with that heresy to proclaim
Him as having an ineffable origin before all worlds; not enough to place
him high above all creatures as the type of all the works of God's
Hands; not enough to make Him the King of all Saints, the Intercessor
for man with God, the Object of worship, the Image of the Father; not
enough, because it was not all, and between all and anything short of
all, there was an infinite interval. The highest of creatures is
levelled with the lowest in comparison of the One Creator Himself. That
is, the Nicene Council recognized the eventful principle, that, while we
believe and profess any being to be made of a created nature, such a
being is really no God to us, though honoured by us with whatever high
titles and with whatever homage. Arius or Asterius did all but confess
that Christ was the Almighty; they said much more than St. Bernard or
St. Alphonso have since said of the Blessed Mary; yet they left Him a
creature and were found wanting. Thus there was "a wonder in heaven:" a
throne was seen, far above all other created powers, mediatorial,
intercessory; a title archetypal; a crown bright as the morning star; a
glory issuing from the Eternal Throne; robes pure as the heavens; and a
sceptre over all; and who was the predestined heir of that Majesty?
Since it was not high enough for the Highest, who was that Wisdom, and
what was her name, "the Mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope,"
"exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi, and a rose-plant in Jericho,"
"created from the beginning before the world" in God's everlasting
counsels, and "in Jerusalem her power"? The vision is found in the
Apocalypse, a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet,
and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The votaries of Mary do not
exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son came up to it.
The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is orthodoxy.


I am not stating conclusions which were drawn out in the controversy,
but of premisses which were laid, broad and deep. It was then shown, it
was then determined, that to exalt a creature was no recognition of its
divinity. Nor am I speaking of the Semi-Arians, who, holding our Lord's
derivation from the Substance of the Father, yet denying His
Consubstantiality, really did lie open to the charge of maintaining two
Gods, and present no parallel to the defenders of the prerogatives of
St. Mary. But I speak of the Arians who taught that the Son's Substance
was created; and concerning them it is true that St. Athanasius's
condemnation of their theology is a vindication of the Medieval. Yet it
is not wonderful, considering how Socinians, Sabellians, Nestorians, and
the like, abound in these days, without their even knowing it
themselves, if those who never rise higher in their notions of our
Lord's Divinity, than to consider Him a man singularly inhabited by a
Divine Presence, that is, a Catholic Saint,--if such men should mistake
the honour paid by the Church to the human Mother for that very honour
which, and which alone, is worthy of her Eternal Son.


I have said that there was in the first ages no public and
ecclesiastical recognition of the place which St. Mary holds in the
Economy of grace; this was reserved for the fifth century, as the
definition of our Lord's proper Divinity had been the work of the
fourth. There was a controversy contemporary with those already
mentioned, I mean the Nestorian, which brought out the complement of the
development, to which they had been subservient; and which, if I may so
speak, supplied the subject of that august proposition of which Arianism
had provided the predicate. In order to do honour to Christ, in order to
defend the true doctrine of the Incarnation, in order to secure a right
faith in the manhood of the Eternal Son, the Council of Ephesus
determined the Blessed Virgin to be the Mother of God. Thus all heresies
of that day, though opposite to each other, tended in a most wonderful
way to her exaltation; and the School of Antioch, the fountain of
primitive rationalism, led the Church to determine first the conceivable
greatness of a creature, and then the incommunicable dignity of the
Blessed Virgin.


But the spontaneous or traditional feeling of Christians had in great
measure anticipated the formal ecclesiastical decision. Thus the title
_Theotocos_, or Mother of God, was familiar to Christians from primitive
times, and had been used, among other writers, by Origen, Eusebius, St.
Alexander, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St.
Gregory Nyssen, and St. Nilus. She had been called Ever-Virgin by
others, as by St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and Didymus. By others, "the
Mother of all living," as being the antitype of Eve; for, as St.
Epiphanius observes, "in truth," not in shadow, "from Mary was Life
itself brought into the world, that Mary might bear things living, and
might become Mother of living things."[146:1] St. Augustine says that
all have sinned "except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, for the
honour of the Lord, I wish no question to be raised at all, when we are
treating of sins." "She was alone and wrought the world's salvation,"
says St. Ambrose, alluding to her conception of the Redeemer. She is
signified by the Pillar of the cloud which guided the Israelites,
according to the same Father; and she had "so great grace, as not only
to have virginity herself, but to impart it to those to whom she
came;"--"the Rod out of the stem of Jesse," says St. Jerome, and "the
Eastern gate through which the High Priest alone goes in and out, yet is
ever shut;"--the wise woman, says St. Nilus, who "hath clad all
believers, from the fleece of the Lamb born of her, with the clothing of
incorruption, and delivered them from their spiritual nakedness;"--"the
Mother of Life, of beauty, of majesty, the Morning Star," according to
Antiochus;--"the mystical new heavens," "the heavens carrying the
Divinity," "the fruitful vine by whom we are translated from death unto
life," according to St. Ephraim;--"the manna which is delicate, bright,
sweet, and virgin, which, as though coming from heaven, has poured down
on all the people of the Churches a food pleasanter than honey,"
according to St. Maximus.

St. Proclus calls her "the unsullied shell which contains the pearl of
price," "the sacred shrine of sinlessness," "the golden altar of
holocaust," "the holy oil of anointing," "the costly alabaster box of
spikenard," "the ark gilt within and without," "the heifer whose ashes,
that is, the Lord's Body taken from her, cleanses those who are defiled
by the pollution of sin," "the fair bride of the Canticles," "the stay
(στήριγμα) of believers," "the Church's diadem," "the expression of
orthodoxy." These are oratorical expressions; but we use oratory on
great subjects, not on small. Elsewhere he calls her "God's only bridge
to man;" and elsewhere he breaks forth, "Run through all creation in
your thoughts, and see if there be equal to, or greater than, the Holy
Virgin Mother of God."


Theodotus too, one of the Fathers of Ephesus, or whoever it is whose
Homilies are given to St. Amphilochius:--"As debtors and God's
well-affected servants, let us make confession to God the Word and to
His Mother, of the gift of words, as far as we are able. . . Hail,
Mother, clad in light, of the light which sets not; hail all-undefiled
mother of holiness; hail most pellucid fountain of the life-giving
stream!" After speaking of the Incarnation, he continues, "Such
paradoxes doth the Divine Virgin Mother ever bring to us in her holy
irradiations, for with her is the Fount of Life, and breasts of the
spiritual and guileless milk; from which to such the sweetness, we have
even now earnestly run to her, not as in forgetfulness of what has gone
before, but in desire of what is to come."

To St. Fulgentius is ascribed the following: "Mary became the window of
heaven, for God through her poured the True Light upon the world; the
heavenly ladder, for through her did God descend upon earth. . . . .
Come, ye virgins, to a Virgin, come ye who conceive to one who did
conceive, ye who bear to one who bore, mothers to a Mother, ye who give
suck to one who suckled, young women to the Young." Lastly, "Thou hast
found grace," says St. Peter Chrysologus, "how much? he had said above,
Full. And full indeed, which with full shower might pour upon and into
the whole creation."[148:1]

       *       *       *       *       *

Such was the state of sentiment on the subject of the Blessed Virgin,
which the Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite heresies found in the
Church; and on which the doctrinal decisions consequent upon them
impressed a form and a consistency which has been handed on in the East
and West to this day.



I will take one instance more. Let us see how, on the principles which I
have been laying down and defending, the evidence lies for the Pope's

As to this doctrine the question is this, whether there was not from the
first a certain element at work, or in existence, divinely sanctioned,
which, for certain reasons, did not at once show itself upon the surface
of ecclesiastical affairs, and of which events in the fourth century
are the development; and whether the evidence of its existence and
operation, which does occur in the earlier centuries, be it much or
little, is not just such as ought to occur upon such an hypothesis.


For instance, it is true, St. Ignatius is silent in his Epistles on the
subject of the Pope's authority; but if in fact that authority could not
be in active operation then, such silence is not so difficult to account
for as the silence of Seneca or Plutarch about Christianity itself, or
of Lucian about the Roman people. St. Ignatius directed his doctrine
according to the need. While Apostles were on earth, there was the
display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as
being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the
Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope. When the
Apostles were taken away, Christianity did not at once break into
portions; yet separate localities might begin to be the scene of
internal dissensions, and a local arbiter in consequence would be
wanted. Christians at home did not yet quarrel with Christians abroad;
they quarrelled at home among themselves. St. Ignatius applied the
fitting remedy. The _Sacramentum Unitatis_ was acknowledged on all
hands; the mode of fulfilling and the means of securing it would vary
with the occasion; and the determination of its essence, its seat, and
its laws would be a gradual supply for a gradual necessity.


This is but natural, and is parallel to instances which happen daily,
and may be so considered without prejudice to the divine right whether
of the Episcopate or of the Papacy. It is a common occurrence for a
quarrel and a lawsuit to bring out the state of the law, and then the
most unexpected results often follow. St. Peter's prerogative would
remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters
became the cause of ascertaining it. While Christians were "of one heart
and one soul," it would be suspended; love dispenses with laws.
Christians knew that they must live in unity, and they were in unity; in
what that unity consisted, how far they could proceed, as it were, in
bending it, and what at length was the point at which it broke, was an
irrelevant as well as unwelcome inquiry. Relatives often live together
in happy ignorance of their respective rights and properties, till a
father or a husband dies; and then they find themselves against their
will in separate interests, and on divergent courses, and dare not move
without legal advisers. Again, the case is conceivable of a corporation
or an Academical body, going on for centuries in the performance of the
routine-business which came in its way, and preserving a good
understanding between its members, with statutes almost a dead letter
and no precedents to explain them, and the rights of its various classes
and functions undefined,--then of its being suddenly thrown back by the
force of circumstances upon the question of its formal character as a
body politic, and in consequence developing in the relation of governors
and governed. The _regalia Petri_ might sleep, as the power of a
Chancellor has slept; not as an obsolete, for they never had been
carried into effect, but as a mysterious privilege, which was not
understood; as an unfulfilled prophecy. For St. Ignatius to speak of
Popes, when it was a matter of Bishops, would have been like sending an
army to arrest a housebreaker. The Bishop's power indeed was from God,
and the Pope's could be no more; he, as well as the Pope, was our Lord's
representative, and had a sacramental office: but I am speaking, not of
the intrinsic sanctity or divinity of such an office, but of its duties.


When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local
disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances
gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was
necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a
suspension of that communion had actually occurred. It is not a greater
difficulty that St. Ignatius does not write to the Asian Greeks about
Popes, than that St. Paul does not write to the Corinthians about
Bishops. And it is a less difficulty that the Papal supremacy was not
formally acknowledged in the second century, than that there was no
formal acknowledgment on the part of the Church of the doctrine of the
Holy Trinity till the fourth. No doctrine is defined till it is

And, in like manner, it was natural for Christians to direct their
course in matters of doctrine by the guidance of mere floating, and, as
it were, endemic tradition, while it was fresh and strong; but in
proportion as it languished, or was broken in particular places, did it
become necessary to fall back upon its special homes, first the
Apostolic Sees, and then the See of St. Peter.


Moreover, an international bond and a common authority could not be
consolidated, were it ever so certainly provided, while persecutions
lasted. If the Imperial Power checked the development of Councils, it
availed also for keeping back the power of the Papacy. The Creed, the
Canon, in like manner, both remained undefined. The Creed, the Canon,
the Papacy, Ecumenical Councils, all began to form, as soon as the
Empire relaxed its tyrannous oppression of the Church. And as it was
natural that her monarchical power should display itself when the Empire
became Christian, so was it natural also that further developments of
that power should take place when that Empire fell. Moreover, when the
power of the Holy See began to exert itself, disturbance and collision
would be the necessary consequence. Of the Temple of Solomon, it was
said that "neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron was heard in
the house, while it was in building." This is a type of the Church
above; it was otherwise with the Church below, whether in the instance
of Popes or Apostles. In either case, a new power had to be defined; as
St. Paul had to plead, nay, to strive for his apostolic authority, and
enjoined St. Timothy, as Bishop of Ephesus, to let no man despise him:
so Popes too have not therefore been ambitious because they did not
establish their authority without a struggle. It was natural that
Polycrates should oppose St. Victor; and natural too that St. Cyprian
should both extol the See of St. Peter, yet resist it when he thought it
went beyond its province. And at a later day it was natural that
Emperors should rise in indignation against it; and natural, on the
other hand, that it should take higher ground with a younger power than
it had taken with an elder and time-honoured.


We may follow Barrow here without reluctance, except in his imputation
of motives.

"In the first times," he says, "while the Emperors were pagans, their
[the Popes'] pretences were suited to their condition, and could not
soar high; they were not then so mad as to pretend to any temporal
power, and a pittance of spiritual eminency did content them."

Again: "The state of the most primitive Church did not well admit such
an universal sovereignty. For that did consist of small bodies
incoherently situated, and scattered about in very distant places, and
consequently unfit to be modelled into one political society, or to be
governed by one head, especially considering their condition under
persecution and poverty. What convenient resort for direction or justice
could a few distressed Christians in Egypt, Ethiopia, Parthia, India,
Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, Cappadocia, and other parts, have to Rome!"

Again: "Whereas no point avowed by Christians could be so apt to raise
offence and jealousy in pagans against our religion as this, which
setteth up a power of so vast extent and huge influence; whereas no
novelty could be more surprising or startling than the creation of an
universal empire over the consciences and religious practices of men;
whereas also this doctrine could not be but very conspicuous and glaring
in ordinary practice, it is prodigious that all pagans should not loudly
exclaim against it," that is, on the supposition that the Papal power
really was then in actual exercise.

And again: "It is most prodigious that, in the disputes managed by the
Fathers against heretics, the Gnostics, Valentinians, &c., they should
not, even in the first place, allege and urge the sentence of the
universal pastor and judge, as a most evidently conclusive argument, as
the most efficacious and compendious method of convincing and silencing

Once more: "Even Popes themselves have shifted their pretences, and
varied in style, according to the different circumstances of time, and
their variety of humours, designs, interests. In time of prosperity, and
upon advantage, when they might safely do it, any Pope almost would talk
high and assume much to himself; but when they were low, or stood in
fear of powerful contradiction, even the boldest Popes would speak
submissively or moderately."[153:1]

On the whole, supposing the power to be divinely bestowed, yet in the
first instance more or less dormant, a history could not be traced out
more probable, more suitable to that hypothesis, than the actual course
of the controversy which took place age after age upon the Papal


It will be said that all this is a theory. Certainly it is: it is a
theory to account for facts as they lie in the history, to account for
so much being told us about the Papal authority in early times, and not
more; a theory to reconcile what is and what is not recorded about it;
and, which is the principal point, a theory to connect the words and
acts of the Ante-nicene Church with that antecedent probability of a
monarchical principle in the Divine Scheme, and that actual
exemplification of it in the fourth century, which forms their
presumptive interpretation. All depends on the strength of that
presumption. Supposing there be otherwise good reason for saying that
the Papal Supremacy is part of Christianity, there is nothing in the
early history of the Church to contradict it.


It follows to inquire in what this presumption consists? It has, as I
have said, two parts, the antecedent probability of a Popedom, and the
actual state of the Post-nicene Church. The former of these reasons has
unavoidably been touched upon in what has preceded. It is the absolute
need of a monarchical power in the Church which is our ground for
anticipating it. A political body cannot exist without government, and
the larger is the body the more concentrated must the government be. If
the whole of Christendom is to form one Kingdom, one head is essential;
at least this is the experience of eighteen hundred years. As the Church
grew into form, so did the power of the Pope develope; and wherever the
Pope has been renounced, decay and division have been the consequence.
We know of no other way of preserving the _Sacramentum Unitatis_, but a
centre of unity. The Nestorians have had their "Catholicus;" the
Lutherans of Prussia have their general superintendent; even the
Independents, I believe, have had an overseer in their Missions. The
Anglican Church affords an observable illustration of this doctrine. As
her prospects have opened and her communion extended, the See of
Canterbury has become the natural centre of her operations. It has at
the present time jurisdiction in the Mediterranean, at Jerusalem, in
Hindostan, in North America, at the Antipodes. It has been the organ of
communication, when a Prime Minister would force the Church to a
redistribution of her property, or a Protestant Sovereign abroad would
bring her into friendly relations with his own communion. Eyes have been
lifted up thither in times of perplexity; thither have addresses been
directed and deputations sent. Thence issue the legal decisions, or the
declarations in Parliament, or the letters, or the private
interpositions, which shape the fortunes of the Church, and are the
moving influence within her separate dioceses. It must be so; no Church
can do without its Pope. We see before our eyes the centralizing process
by which the See of St. Peter became the Sovereign Head of Christendom.

If such be the nature of the case, it is impossible, if we may so speak
reverently, that an Infinite Wisdom, which sees the end from the
beginning, in decreeing the rise of an universal Empire, should not have
decreed the development of a sovereign ruler.

Moreover, all this must be viewed in the light of the general
probability, so much insisted on above, that doctrine cannot but
develope as time proceeds and need arises, and that its developments are
parts of the Divine system, and that therefore it is lawful, or rather
necessary, to interpret the words and deeds of the earlier Church by the
determinate teaching of the later.


And, on the other hand, as the counterpart of these anticipations, we
are met by certain announcements in Scripture, more or less obscure and
needing a comment, and claimed by the Papal See as having their
fulfilment in itself. Such are the words, "Thou art Peter, and upon this
rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it, and I will give unto Thee the Keys of the Kingdom of
Heaven." Again: "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." And "Satan hath desired
to have you; I have prayed for thee, and when thou art converted,
strengthen thy brethren." Such, too, are various other indications of
the Divine purpose as regards St. Peter, too weak in themselves to be
insisted on separately, but not without a confirmatory power; such as
his new name, his walking on the sea, his miraculous draught of fishes
on two occasions, our Lord's preaching out of his boat, and His
appearing first to him after His resurrection.

It should be observed, moreover, that a similar promise was made by the
patriarch Jacob to Judah: "Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise:
the sceptre shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come;" yet this
promise was not fulfilled for perhaps eight hundred years, during which
long period we hear little or nothing of the tribe descended from him.
In like manner, "On this rock I will build My Church," "I give unto thee
the Keys," "Feed My sheep," are not precepts merely, but prophecies and
promises, promises to be accomplished by Him who made them, prophecies
to be fulfilled according to the need, and to be interpreted by the
event,--by the history, that is, of the fourth and fifth centuries,
though they had a partial fulfilment even in the preceding period, and a
still more noble development in the middle ages.


A partial fulfilment, or at least indications of what was to be, there
certainly were in the first age. Faint one by one, at least they are
various, and are found in writers of many times and countries, and
thereby illustrative of each other, and forming a body of proof. Thus
St. Clement, in the name of the Church of Rome, writes to the
Corinthians, when they were without a bishop; St. Ignatius of Antioch
addresses the Roman Church, out of the Churches to which he writes, as
"the Church, which has in dignity the first seat, of the city of the
Romans,"[157:1] and implies that it was too high for his directing as
being the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. St. Polycarp of Smyrna has
recourse to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the heretic
Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, betakes himself to Rome; Soter,
Bishop of Rome, sends alms, according to the custom of his Church, to
the Churches throughout the empire, and, in the words of Eusebius,
"affectionately exhorted those who came to Rome, as a father his
children;" the Montanists from Phrygia come to Rome to gain the
countenance of its Bishop; Praxeas, from Asia, attempts the like, and
for a while is successful; St. Victor, Bishop of Rome, threatens to
excommunicate the Asian Churches; St. Irenæus speaks of Rome as "the
greatest Church, the most ancient, the most conspicuous, and founded and
established by Peter and Paul," appeals to its tradition, not in
contrast indeed, but in preference to that of other Churches, and
declares that "to this Church, every Church, that is, the faithful from
every side must resort" or "must agree with it, _propter potiorem
principalitatem_." "O Church, happy in its position," says Tertullian,
"into which the Apostles poured out, together with their blood, their
whole doctrine;" and elsewhere, though in indignation and bitter
mockery, he calls the Pope "the Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of
Bishops." The presbyters of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria,
complain of his doctrine to St. Dionysius of Rome; the latter
expostulates with him, and he explains. The Emperor Aurelian leaves "to
the Bishops of Italy and of Rome" the decision, whether or not Paul of
Samosata shall be dispossessed of the see-house at Antioch; St. Cyprian
speaks of Rome as "the See of Peter and the principal Church, whence
the unity of the priesthood took its rise, . . whose faith has been
commended by the Apostles, to whom faithlessness can have no access;"
St. Stephen refuses to receive St. Cyprian's deputation, and separates
himself from various Churches of the East; Fortunatus and Felix, deposed
by St. Cyprian, have recourse to Rome; Basilides, deposed in Spain,
betakes himself to Rome, and gains the ear of St. Stephen.


St. Cyprian had his quarrel with the Roman See, but it appears he allows
to it the title of the "Cathedra Petri," and even Firmilian is a witness
that Rome claimed it. In the fourth and fifth centuries this title and
its logical results became prominent. Thus St. Julius (A.D. 342)
remonstrated by letter with the Eusebian party for "proceeding on their
own authority as they pleased," and then, as he says, "desiring to
obtain our concurrence in their decisions, though we never condemned
[Athanasius]. Not so have the constitutions of Paul, not so have the
traditions of the Fathers directed; this is another form of procedure, a
novel practice. . . . For what we have received from the blessed Apostle
Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as
deeming that these things are manifest unto all men, had not these
proceedings so disturbed us."[158:1] St. Athanasius, by preserving this
protest, has given it his sanction. Moreover, it is referred to by
Socrates; and his account of it has the more force, because he happens
to be incorrect in the details, and therefore did not borrow it from
St. Athanasius: "Julius wrote back," he says, "that they acted against
the Canons, because they had not called him to the Council, the
Ecclesiastical Canon commanding that the Churches ought not to make
Canons beside the will of the Bishop of Rome."[159:1] And Sozomen: "It
was a sacerdotal law, to declare invalid whatever was transacted beside
the will of the Bishop of the Romans."[159:2] On the other hand, the
heretics themselves, whom St. Julius withstands, are obliged to
acknowledge that Rome was "the School of the Apostles and the Metropolis
of orthodoxy from the beginning;" and two of their leaders (Western
Bishops indeed) some years afterwards recanted their heresy before the
Pope in terms of humble confession.


Another Pope, St. Damasus, in his letter addressed to the Eastern
Bishops against Apollinaris (A.D. 382), calls those Bishops his sons.
"In that your charity pays the due reverence to the Apostolical See, ye
profit yourselves the most, most honoured sons. For if, placed as we are
in that Holy Church, in which the Holy Apostle sat and taught, how it
becometh us to direct the helm to which we have succeeded, we
nevertheless confess ourselves unequal to that honour; yet do we
therefore study as we may, if so be we may be able to attain to the
glory of his blessedness."[159:3] "I speak," says St. Jerome to the same
St. Damasus, "with the successor of the fisherman and the disciple of
the Cross. I, following no one as my chief but Christ, am associated in
communion with thy blessedness, that is, with the See of Peter. I know
that on that rock the Church is built. Whosoever shall eat the Lamb
outside this House is profane; if a man be not in the Ark of Noe, he
shall perish when the flood comes in its power."[160:1] St. Basil
entreats St. Damasus to send persons to arbitrate between the Churches
of Asia Minor, or at least to make a report on the authors of their
troubles, and name the party with which the Pope should hold communion.
"We are in no wise asking anything new," he proceeds, "but what was
customary with blessed and religious men of former times, and especially
with yourself. For we know, by tradition of our fathers of whom we have
inquired, and from the information of writings still preserved among us,
that Dionysius, that most blessed Bishop, while he was eminent among you
for orthodoxy and other virtues, sent letters of visitation to our
Church at Cæsarea, and of consolation to our fathers, with ransomers of
our brethren from captivity." In like manner, Ambrosiaster, a Pelagian
in his doctrine, which here is not to the purpose, speaks of the "Church
being God's house, whose ruler at this time is Damasus."[160:2]


"We bear," says St. Siricius, another Pope (A.D. 385), "the burden of
all who are laden; yea, rather the blessed Apostle Peter beareth them in
us, who, as we trust, in all things protects and defends us the heirs of
his government."[160:3] And he in turn is confirmed by St. Optatus. "You
cannot deny your knowledge," says the latter to Parmenian, the Donatist,
"that, in the city Rome, on Peter first hath an Episcopal See been
conferred, in which Peter sat, the head of all the Apostles, . . . in
which one See unity might be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles
should support their respective Sees; in order that he might be at once
a schismatic and a sinner, who against that one See (_singularem_)
placed a second. Therefore that one See (_unicam_), which is the first
of the Church's prerogatives, Peter filled first; to whom succeeded
Linus; to Linus, Clement; to Clement, &c., &c. . . . to Damasus,
Siricius, who at this day is associated with us (_socius_), together
with whom the whole world is in accordance with us, in the one bond of
communion, by the intercourse of letters of peace."[161:1]

Another Pope: "Diligently and congruously do ye consult the _arcana_ of
the Apostolical dignity," says St. Innocent to the Council of Milevis
(A.D. 417), "the dignity of him on whom, beside those things which are
without, falls the care of all the Churches; following the form of the
ancient rule, which you know, as well as I, has been preserved always by
the whole world."[161:2] Here the Pope appeals, as it were, to the Rule
of Vincentius; while St. Augustine bears witness that he did not outstep
his Prerogative, for, giving an account of this and another letter, he
says, "He [the Pope] answered us as to all these matters as it was
religious and becoming in the Bishop of the Apostolic See."[161:3]

Another Pope: "We have especial anxiety about all persons," says St.
Celestine (A.D. 425), to the Illyrian Bishops, "on whom, in the holy
Apostle Peter, Christ conferred the necessity of making all men our
care, when He gave him the Keys of opening and shutting." And St.
Prosper, his contemporary, confirms him, when he calls Rome "the seat of
Peter, which, being made to the world the head of pastoral honour,
possesses by religion what it does not possess by arms;" and Vincent of
Lerins, when he calls the Pope "the head of the world."[161:4]


Another Pope: "Blessed Peter," says St. Leo (A.D. 440, &c.), "hath not
deserted the helm of the Church which he had assumed. . . His power
lives and his authority is pre-eminent in his See."[162:1] "That
immoveableness, which, from the Rock Christ, he, when made a rock,
received, has been communicated also to his heirs."[162:2] And as St.
Athanasius and the Eusebians, by their contemporary testimonies, confirm
St. Julius; and St. Jerome, St. Basil; and Ambrosiaster, St. Damasus;
and St. Optatus, St. Siricius; and St. Augustine, St. Innocent; and St.
Prosper and Vincent, St. Celestine; so do St. Peter Chrysologus, and the
Council of Chalcedon confirm St. Leo. "Blessed Peter," says Chrysologus,
"who lives and presides in his own See, supplies truth of faith to those
who seek it."[162:3] And the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, addressing
St. Leo respecting Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria: "He extends his
madness even against him to whom the custody of the vineyard has been
committed by the Saviour, that is, against thy Apostolical
holiness."[162:4] But the instance of St. Leo will occur again in a
later Chapter.


The acts of the fourth century speak as strongly as its words. We may
content ourselves here with Barrow's admissions:--

"The Pope's power," he says, "was much amplified by the importunity of
persons condemned or extruded from their places, whether upon just
accounts, or wrongfully, and by faction; for they, finding no other more
hopeful place of refuge and redress, did often apply to him: for what
will not men do, whither will not they go in straits? Thus did Marcion
go to Rome, and sue for admission to communion there. So Fortunatus and
Felicissimus in St. Cyprian, being condemned in Afric, did fly to Rome
for shelter; of which absurdity St. Cyprian doth so complain. So
likewise Martianus and Basilides in St. Cyprian, being outed of their
Sees for having lapsed from the Christian profession, did fly to Stephen
for succour, to be restored. So Maximus, the Cynic, went to Rome, to get
a confirmation of his election at Constantinople. So Marcellus, being
rejected for heterodoxy, went thither to get attestation to his
orthodoxy, of which St. Basil complaineth. So Apiarus, being condemned
in Afric for his crimes, did appeal to Rome. And, on the other side,
Athanasius being with great partiality condemned by the Synod of Tyre;
Paulus and other bishops being extruded from their sees for orthodoxy;
St. Chrysostom being condemned and expelled by Theophilus and his
complices; Flavianus being deposed by Dioscorus and the Ephesine synod;
Theodoret being condemned by the same; did cry out for help to Rome.
Chelidonius, Bishop of Besançon, being deposed by Hilarius of Arles for
crime, did fly to Pope Leo."

Again: "Our adversaries do oppose some instances of popes meddling in
the constitution of bishops; as, Pope Leo I. saith, that Anatolius did
'by the favour of his assent obtain the bishopric of Constantinople.'
The same Pope is alleged as having confirmed Maximus of Antioch. The
same doth write to the Bishop of Thessalonica, his vicar, that he should
'confirm the elections of bishops by his authority.' He also confirmed
Donatus, an African bishop:--'We will that Donatus preside over the
Lord's flock, upon condition that he remember to send us an account of
his faith.' . . Pope Damasus did confirm the ordination of Peter


And again: "The Popes indeed in the fourth century began to practise a
fine trick, very serviceable to the enlargement of their power; which
was to confer on certain bishops, as occasion served, or for
continuance, the title of their vicar or lieutenant, thereby pretending
to impart authority to them; whereby they were enabled for performance
of divers things, which otherwise by their own episcopal or
metropolitical power they could not perform. By which device they did
engage such bishops to such a dependence on them, whereby they did
promote the papal authority in provinces, to the oppression of the
ancient rights and liberties of bishops and synods, doing what they
pleased under pretence of this vast power communicated to them; and for
fear of being displaced, or out of affection to their favourer, doing
what might serve to advance the papacy. Thus did Pope Celestine
constitute Cyril in his room. Pope Leo appointed Anatolius of
Constantinople; Pope Felix, Acacius of Constantinople. . . . . Pope
Simplicius to Zeno, Bishop of Seville: 'We thought it convenient that
you should be held up by the vicariat authority of our see.' So did
Siricius and his successors constitute the bishops of Thessalonica to be
their vicars in the diocese of Illyricum, wherein being then a member of
the western empire they had caught a special jurisdiction; to which Pope
Leo did refer in those words, which sometimes are impertinently alleged
with reference to all bishops, but concern only Anastasius, Bishop of
Thessalonica: 'We have entrusted thy charity to be in our stead; so that
thou art called into part of the solicitude, not into plenitude of the
authority.' So did Pope Zosimus bestow a like pretence of vicarious
power upon the Bishop of Arles, which city was the seat of the temporal
exarch in Gaul."[164:1]


More ample testimony for the Papal Supremacy, as now professed by Roman
Catholics, is scarcely necessary than what is contained in these
passages; the simple question is, whether the clear light of the fourth
and fifth centuries may be fairly taken to interpret to us the dim,
though definite, outlines traced in the preceding.


[123:1] Wood's Mechanics, p. 31.

[124:1] Authent. N. T. Tr. p. 237.

[124:2] According to Less.

[124:3] Tracts for the Times, No. 85, p. 78 [Discuss. iii. 6, p. 207].

[125:1] [Ibid. p. 209. These results are taken from Less, and are
practically accurate.]

[126:1] No. 85 [Discuss. p. 236].

[132:1] Ep. 93. I have thought it best to give an over-literal

[132:2] Vid. Concil. Bracar. ap. Aguirr. Conc. Hisp. t. ii. p. 676.
"That the cup was not administered at the same time is not so clear; but
from the tenor of this first Canon in the Acts of the Third Council of
Braga, which condemns the notion that the Host should be steeped in the
chalice, we have no doubt that the wine was withheld from the laity.
Whether certain points of doctrine are or are not found in the
Scriptures is no concern of the historian; all that he has to do is
religiously to follow his guides, to suppress or distrust nothing
through partiality."--_Dunham_, _Hist. of Spain and Port._ vol. i. p.
204. If _pro complemento communionis_ in the Canon merely means "for the
Cup," at least the Cup is spoken of as a complement; the same view is
contained in the "confirmation of the Eucharist," as spoken of in St.
German's life. Vid. Lives of Saints, No. 9, p. 28.

[132:3] Niceph. Hist. xviii. 45. Renaudot, however, tells us of two
Bishops at the time when the schism was at length healed. Patr. Al. Jac.
p. 248. However, these had been consecrated by priests, p. 145.

[133:1] Vid. Bing. Ant. xv. 4, § 7; and Fleury, Hist. xxvi. 50, note

[135:1] Kaye's Justin, p. 59, &c.

[135:2] Kaye's Clement, p. 335.

[135:3] p. 341.

[135:4] Ib. 342.

[136:1] Reliqu. Sacr. t. ii. p. 469, 470.

[137:1] [This subject is more exactly and carefully treated in Tracts
Theol. and Eccles. pp. 192-226.]

[138:1] [They also had a _cultus_ in themselves, and specially when a
greater Presence did _not_ overshadow them. _Vid._ Via Media, vol. ii.
art. iv. 8, note 1.]

[139:1] Exod. xxxiii. 10.

[139:2] Dan. x. 5-17.

[141:1] Athan. Orat. i. 42, Oxf. tr.

[141:2] [_Vid. supr._ p. 138, note 8.]

[142:1] Athan. ibid.

[142:2] And so Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine: "The all-holy choir
of God's perpetual virgins, he was used almost to worship (σέβων),
believing that that God, to whom they had consecrated themselves, was an
inhabitant in the souls of such." Vit. Const. iv. 28.

[146:1] Hær. 78, 18.

[148:1] Aug. de Nat. et Grat. 42. Ambros. Ep. 1, 49, § 2. In Psalm 118,
v. 3, de Instit. Virg. 50. Hier. in Is. xi. 1, contr. Pelag. ii. 4. Nil.
Ep. i. p. 267. Antioch. ap. Cyr. de Rect. Fid. p. 49. Ephr. Opp. Syr. t.
3, p. 607. Max. Hom. 45. Procl. Orat. vi. pp. 225-228, p. 60, p. 179,
180, ed. 1630. Theodot. ap. Amphiloch. pp. 39, &c. Fulgent. Serm. 3, p.
125. Chrysol. Serm. 142. A striking passage from another Sermon of the
last-mentioned author, on the words "She cast in her mind what manner of
salutation," &c., may be added: "Quantus sit Deus satis ignorat ille,
qui hujus Virginis mentem non stupet, animum non miratur. Pavet cœlum,
tremunt Angeli, creatura non sustinet, natura non sufficit; et una
puella sic Deum in sui pectoris capit, recipit, oblectat hospitio, ut
pacem terris, cœlis gloriam, salutem perditis, vitam mortuis, terrenis
cum cœlestibus parentelam, ipsius Dei cum carne commercium, pro ipsâ
domûs exigat pensione, pro ipsius uteri mercede conquirat," &c. Serm.
140. [St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Alexandria sometimes
speak, it is true, in a different tone; on this subject vid. "Letter to
Dr. Pusey," Note iii., Diff. of Angl. vol. 2.]

[153:1] Pope's Suprem. ed. 1836, pp. 26, 27, 157, 171, 222.

[157:1] ἥτις καὶ προκάθηται ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων.

[158:1] Athan. Hist. Tracts. Oxf. tr. p. 56.

[159:1] Hist. ii. 17.

[159:2] Hist. iii. 10.

[159:3] Theod. Hist. v. 10.

[160:1] Coustant, Epp. Pont. p. 546.

[160:2] In 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15.

[160:3] Coustant, p. 624.

[161:1] ii. 3.

[161:2] Coustant, pp. 896, 1064.

[161:3] Ep. 186, 2.

[161:4] De Ingrat. 2. Common. 41.

[162:1] Serm. De Natal. iii. 3.

[162:2] Ibid. v. 4.

[162:3] Ep. ad Eutych. fin.

[162:4] Concil. Hard. t. ii. p. 656.

[164:1] Barrow on the Supremacy, ed. 1836, pp. 263, 331, 384.







I have been engaged in drawing out the positive and direct argument in
proof of the intimate connexion, or rather oneness, with primitive
Apostolic teaching, of the body of doctrine known at this day by
the name of Catholic, and professed substantially both by Eastern
and Western Christendom. That faith is undeniably the historical
continuation of the religious system, which bore the name of Catholic in
the eighteenth century, in the seventeenth, in the sixteenth, and so
back in every preceding century, till we arrive at the first;--undeniably
the successor, the representative, the heir of the religion of Cyprian,
Basil, Ambrose and Augustine. The only question that can be raised is
whether the said Catholic faith, as now held, is logically, as well as
historically, the representative of the ancient faith. This then is the
subject, to which I have as yet addressed myself, and I have maintained
that modern Catholicism is nothing else but simply the legitimate growth
and complement, that is, the natural and necessary development, of the
doctrine of the early church, and that its divine authority is included
in the divinity of Christianity.


So far I have gone, but an important objection presents itself for
distinct consideration. It may be said in answer to me that it is not
enough that a certain large system of doctrine, such as that which goes
by the name of Catholic, should admit of being referred to beliefs,
opinions, and usages which prevailed among the first Christians, in
order to my having a logical right to include a reception of the later
teaching in the reception of the earlier; that an intellectual
development may be in one sense natural, and yet untrue to its original,
as diseases come of nature, yet are the destruction, or rather the
negation of health; that the causes which stimulate the growth of ideas
may also disturb and deform them; and that Christianity might indeed
have been intended by its Divine Author for a wide expansion of the
ideas proper to it, and yet this great benefit hindered by the evil
birth of cognate errors which acted as its counterfeit; in a word, that
what I have called developments in the Roman Church are nothing more or
less than what used to be called her corruptions; and that new names do
not destroy old grievances.

This is what may be said, and I acknowledge its force: it becomes
necessary in consequence to assign certain characteristics of faithful
developments, which none but faithful developments have, and the
presence of which serves as a test to discriminate between them and
corruptions. This I at once proceed to do, and I shall begin by
determining what a corruption is, and why it cannot rightly be called,
and how it differs from, a development.


To find then what a corruption or perversion of the truth is, let us
inquire what the word means, when used literally of material substances.
Now it is plain, first of all, that a corruption is a word attaching to
organized matters only; a stone may be crushed to powder, but it cannot
be corrupted. Corruption, on the contrary, is the breaking up of life,
preparatory to its termination. This resolution of a body into its
component parts is the stage before its dissolution; it begins when life
has reached its perfection, and it is the sequel, or rather the
continuation, of that process towards perfection, being at the same time
the reversal and undoing of what went before. Till this point of
regression is reached, the body has a function of its own, and a
direction and aim in its action, and a nature with laws; these it is now
losing, and the traits and tokens of former years; and with them its
vigour and powers of nutrition, of assimilation, and of self-reparation.


Taking this analogy as a guide, I venture to set down seven Notes of
varying cogency, independence and applicability, to discriminate healthy
developments of an idea from its state of corruption and decay, as
follows:--There is no corruption if it retains one and the same type,
the same principles, the same organization; if its beginnings anticipate
its subsequent phases, and its later phenomena protect and subserve its
earlier; if it has a power of assimilation and revival, and a vigorous
action from first to last. On these tests I shall now enlarge, nearly in
the order in which I have enumerated them.




This is readily suggested by the analogy of physical growth, which is
such that the parts and proportions of the developed form, however
altered, correspond to those which belong to its rudiments. The adult
animal has the same make, as it had on its birth; young birds do not
grow into fishes, nor does the child degenerate into the brute, wild or
domestic, of which he is by inheritance lord. Vincentius of Lerins
adopts this illustration in distinct reference to Christian doctrine.
"Let the soul's religion," he says "imitate the law of the body, which,
as years go on developes indeed and opens out its due proportions, and
yet remains identically what it was. Small are a baby's limbs, a youth's
are larger, yet they are the same."[172:1]


In like manner every calling or office has its own type, which those who
fill it are bound to maintain; and to deviate from the type in any
material point is to relinquish the calling. Thus both Chaucer and
Goldsmith have drawn pictures of a true parish priest; these differ in
details, but on the whole they agree together, and are one in such
sense, that sensuality, or ambition, must be considered a forfeiture of
that high title. Those magistrates, again, are called "corrupt," who are
guided in their judgments by love of lucre or respect of persons, for
the administration of justice is their essential function. Thus
collegiate or monastic bodies lose their claim to their endowments or
their buildings, as being relaxed and degenerate, if they neglect their
statutes or their Rule. Thus, too, in political history, a mayor of the
palace, such as he became in the person of Pepin, was no faithful
development of the office he filled, as originally intended and


In like manner, it has been argued by a late writer, whether fairly or
not does not interfere with the illustration, that the miraculous vision
and dream of the Labarum could not have really taken place, as reported
by Eusebius, because it is counter to the original type of Christianity.
"For the first time," he says, on occasion of Constantine's introduction
of the standard into his armies, "the meek and peaceful Jesus became a
God of battle, and the Cross, the holy sign of Christian Redemption, a
banner of bloody strife. . . . . This was the first advance to the
military Christianity of the middle ages, a modification of the pure
religion of the Gospel, if directly opposed to its genuine principles,
still apparently indispensable to the social progress of men."[173:1]

On the other hand, a popular leader may go through a variety of
professions, he may court parties and break with them, he may contradict
himself in words, and undo his own measures, yet there may be a steady
fulfilment of certain objects, or adherence to certain plain doctrines,
which gives a unity to his career, and impresses on beholders an image
of directness and large consistency which shows a fidelity to his type
from first to last.


However, as the last instances suggest to us, this unity of type,
characteristic as it is of faithful developments, must not be pressed to
the extent of denying all variation, nay, considerable alteration of
proportion and relation, as time goes on, in the parts or aspects of an
idea. Great changes in outward appearance and internal harmony occur in
the instance of the animal creation itself. The fledged bird differs
much from its rudimental form in the egg. The butterfly is the
development, but not in any sense the image, of the grub. The whale
claims a place among mammalia, though we might fancy that, as in the
child's game of catscradle, some strange introsusception had been
permitted, to make it so like, yet so contrary, to the animals with
which it is itself classed. And, in like manner, if beasts of prey were
once in paradise, and fed upon grass, they must have presented bodily
phenomena very different from the structure of muscles, claws, teeth,
and viscera which now fit them for a carnivorous existence. Eutychius,
Patriarch of Constantinople, on his death-bed, grasped his own hand and
said, "I confess that in this flesh we shall all rise again;" yet flesh
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and a glorified body has
attributes incompatible with its present condition on earth.


More subtle still and mysterious are the variations which are consistent
or not inconsistent with identity in political and religious
developments. The Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity has ever been
accused by heretics of interfering with that of the Divine Unity out of
which it grew, and even believers will at first sight consider that it
tends to obscure it. Yet Petavius says, "I will affirm, what perhaps
will surprise the reader, that that distinction of Persons which, in
regard to _proprietates_ is in reality most great, is so far from
disparaging the Unity and Simplicity of God that this very real
distinction especially avails for the doctrine that God is One and most

Again, Arius asserted that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was
not able to comprehend the First, whereas Eunomius's characteristic
tenet was in an opposite direction, viz., that not only the Son, but
that all men could comprehend God; yet no one can doubt that Eunomianism
was a true development, not a corruption of Arianism.

The same man may run through various philosophies or beliefs, which are
in themselves irreconcilable, without inconsistency, since in him they
may be nothing more than accidental instruments or expressions of what
he is inwardly from first to last. The political doctrines of the modern
Tory resemble those of the primitive Whig; yet few will deny that the
Whig and Tory characters have each a discriminating type. Calvinism has
changed into Unitarianism: yet this need not be called a corruption,
even if it be not, strictly speaking, a development; for Harding, in
controversy with Jewell, surmised the coming change three centuries
since, and it has occurred not in one country, but in many.


The history of national character supplies an analogy, rather than an
instance strictly in point; yet there is so close a connexion between
the development of minds and of ideas that it is allowable to refer to
it here. Thus we find England of old the most loyal supporter, and
England of late the most jealous enemy, of the Holy See. As great a
change is exhibited in France, once the eldest born of the Church and
the flower of her knighthood, now democratic and lately infidel. Yet, in
neither nation, can these great changes be well called corruptions.

Or again, let us reflect on the ethical vicissitudes of the chosen
people. How different is their grovelling and cowardly temper on leaving
Egypt from the chivalrous spirit, as it may be called, of the age of
David, or, again, from the bloody fanaticism which braved Titus and
Hadrian! In what contrast is that impotence of mind which gave way at
once, and bowed the knee, at the very sight of a pagan idol, with the
stern iconoclasm and bigoted nationality of later Judaism! How startling
the apparent absence of what would be called talent in this people
during their supernatural Dispensation, compared with the gifts of mind
which various witnesses assign to them now!


And, in like manner, ideas may remain, when the expression of them is
indefinitely varied; and we cannot determine whether a professed
development is truly such or not, without further knowledge than an
experience of the mere fact of this variation. Nor will our instinctive
feelings serve as a criterion. It must have been an extreme shock to St.
Peter to be told he must slay and eat beasts, unclean as well as clean,
though such a command was implied already in that faith which he held
and taught; a shock, which a single effort, or a short period, or the
force of reason would not suffice to overcome. Nay, it may happen that a
representation which varies from its original may be felt as more true
and faithful than one which has more pretensions to be exact. So it is
with many a portrait which is not striking: at first look, of course, it
disappoints us; but when we are familiar with it, we see in it what we
could not see at first, and prefer it, not to a perfect likeness, but to
many a sketch which is so precise as to be a caricature.


On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so
unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes
which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed
from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or
what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small.
The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that
the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own
person. Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor,
and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, "an absolute monarchy
disguised by the forms of a commonwealth." On the other hand, when the
dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of
Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the
appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and
Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and
threw around him the forms of a court.

Nay, one cause of corruption in religion is the refusal to follow the
course of doctrine as it moves on, and an obstinacy in the notions of
the past. Certainly: as we see conspicuously in the history of the
chosen race. The Samaritans who refused to add the Prophets to the Law,
and the Sadducees who denied a truth which was covertly taught in the
Book of Exodus, were in appearance only faithful adherents to the
primitive doctrine. Our Lord found His people precisians in their
obedience to the letter; He condemned them for not being led on to its
spirit, that is, to its developments. The Gospel is the development of
the Law; yet what difference seems wider than that which separates the
unbending rule of Moses from the "grace and truth" which "came by Jesus
Christ?" Samuel had of old time fancied that the tall Eliab was the
Lord's anointed; and Jesse had thought David only fit for the sheepcote;
and when the Great King came, He was "as a root out of a dry ground;"
but strength came out of weakness, and out of the strong sweetness.

So it is in the case of our friends; the most obsequious are not always
the truest, and seeming cruelty is often genuine affection. We know the
conduct of the three daughters in the drama towards the old king. She
who had found her love "more richer than her tongue," and could not
"heave her heart into her mouth," was in the event alone true to her


An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this
circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its
substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such
sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, _unity of type_
becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of
developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number
or importance.



As in mathematical creations figures are formed on distinct formulæ,
which are the laws under which they are developed, so it is in ethical
and political subjects. Doctrines expand variously according to the
mind, individual or social, into which they are received; and the
peculiarities of the recipient are the regulating power, the law, the
organization, or, as it may be called, the form of the development. The
life of doctrines may be said to consist in the law or principle which
they embody.

Principles are abstract and general, doctrines relate to facts;
doctrines develope, and principles at first sight do not; doctrines grow
and are enlarged, principles are permanent; doctrines are intellectual,
and principles are more immediately ethical and practical. Systems live
in principles and represent doctrines. Personal responsibility is a
principle, the Being of a God is a doctrine; from that doctrine all
theology has come in due course, whereas that principle is not clearer
under the Gospel than in paradise, and depends, not on belief in an
Almighty Governor, but on conscience.

Yet the difference between the two sometimes merely exists in our mode
of viewing them; and what is a doctrine in one philosophy is a principle
in another. Personal responsibility may be made a doctrinal basis, and
develope into Arminianism or Pelagianism. Again, it may be discussed
whether infallibility is a principle or a doctrine of the Church of
Rome, and dogmatism a principle or doctrine of Christianity. Again,
consideration for the poor is a doctrine of the Church considered as a
religious body, and a principle when she is viewed as a political power.

Doctrines stand to principles, as the definitions to the axioms and
postulates of mathematics. Thus the 15th and 17th propositions of
Euclid's book I. are developments, not of the three first axioms, which
are required in the proof, but of the definition of a right angle.
Perhaps the perplexity, which arises in the mind of a beginner, on
learning the early propositions of the second book, arises from these
being more prominently exemplifications of axioms than developments of
definitions. He looks for developments from the definition of the
rectangle, and finds but various particular cases of the general truth,
that "the whole is equal to its parts."


It might be expected that the Catholic principles would be later in
development than the Catholic doctrines, inasmuch as they lie deeper in
the mind, and are assumptions rather than objective professions. This
has been the case. The Protestant controversy has mainly turned, or is
turning, on one or other of the principles of Catholicity; and to this
day the rule of Scripture Interpretation, the doctrine of Inspiration,
the relation of Faith to Reason, moral responsibility, private
judgment, inherent grace, the seat of infallibility, remain, I suppose,
more or less undeveloped, or, at least, undefined, by the Church.

Doctrines stand to principles, if it may be said without fancifulness,
as fecundity viewed relatively to generation, though this analogy must
not be strained. Doctrines are developed by the operation of principles,
and develope variously according to those principles. Thus a belief in
the transitiveness of worldly goods leads the Epicurean to enjoyment,
and the ascetic to mortification; and, from their common doctrine of the
sinfulness of matter, the Alexandrian Gnostics became sensualists, and
the Syrian devotees. The same philosophical elements, received into a
certain sensibility or insensibility to sin and its consequences, leads
one mind to the Church of Rome; another to what, for want of a better
word, may be called Germanism.

Again, religious investigation sometimes is conducted on the principle
that it is a duty "to follow and speak the truth," which really means
that it is no duty to fear error, or to consider what is safest, or to
shrink from scattering doubts, or to regard the responsibility of
misleading; and thus it terminates in heresy or infidelity, without any
blame to religious investigation in itself.

Again, to take a different subject, what constitutes a chief interest of
dramatic compositions and tales, is to use external circumstances, which
may be considered their law of development, as a means of bringing out
into different shapes, and showing under new aspects, the personal
peculiarities of character, according as either those circumstances or
those peculiarities vary in the case of the personages introduced.


Principles are popularly said to develope when they are but exemplified;
thus the various sects of Protestantism, unconnected as they are with
each other, are called developments of the principle of Private
Judgment, of which really they are but applications and results.

A development, to be faithful, must retain both the doctrine and the
principle with which it started. Doctrine without its correspondent
principle remains barren, if not lifeless, of which the Greek Church
seems an instance; or it forms those hollow professions which are
familiarly called "shams," as a zeal for an established Church and its
creed on merely conservative or temporal motives. Such, too, was the
Roman Constitution between the reigns of Augustus and Dioclesian.

On the other hand, principle without its corresponding doctrine may be
considered as the state of religious minds in the heathen world, viewed
relatively to Revelation; that is, of the "children of God who are
scattered abroad."

Pagans may have, heretics cannot have, the same principles as Catholics;
if the latter have the same, they are not real heretics, but in
ignorance. Principle is a better test of heresy than doctrine. Heretics
are true to their principles, but change to and fro, backwards and
forwards, in opinion; for very opposite doctrines may be
exemplifications of the same principle. Thus the Antiochenes and other
heretics sometimes were Arians, sometimes Sabellians, sometimes
Nestorians, sometimes Monophysites, as if at random, from fidelity to
their common principle, that there is no mystery in theology. Thus
Calvinists become Unitarians from the principle of private judgment. The
doctrines of heresy are accidents and soon run to an end; its principles
are everlasting.

This, too, is often the solution of the paradox "Extremes meet," and of
the startling reactions which take place in individuals; viz., the
presence of some one principle or condition, which is dominant in their
minds from first to last. If one of two contradictory alternatives be
necessarily true on a certain hypothesis, then the denial of the one
leads, by mere logical consistency and without direct reasons, to a
reception of the other. Thus the question between the Church of Rome and
Protestantism falls in some minds into the proposition, "Rome is either
the pillar and ground of the Truth, or she is Antichrist;" in
proportion, then, as they revolt from considering her the latter are
they compelled to receive her as the former. Hence, too, men may pass
from infidelity to Rome, and from Rome to infidelity, from a conviction
in both courses that there is no tangible intellectual position between
the two.

Protestantism, viewed in its more Catholic aspect, is doctrine without
active principle; viewed in its heretical, it is active principle
without doctrine. Many of its speakers, for instance, use eloquent and
glowing language about the Church and its characteristics: some of them
do not realize what they say, but use high words and general statements
about "the faith," and "primitive truth," and "schism," and "heresy," to
which they attach no definite meaning; while others speak of "unity,"
"universality," and "Catholicity," and use the words in their own sense
and for their own ideas.


The science of grammar affords another instance of the existence of
special laws in the formation of systems. Some languages have more
elasticity than others, and greater capabilities; and the difficulty of
explaining the fact cannot lead us to doubt it. There are languages, for
instance, which have a capacity for compound words, which, we cannot
tell why, is in matter of fact denied to others. We feel the presence of
a certain character or genius in each, which determines its path and its
range; and to discover and enter into it is one part of refined
scholarship. And when particular writers, in consequence perhaps of
some theory, tax a language beyond its powers, the failure is
conspicuous. Very subtle, too, and difficult to draw out, are the
principles on which depends the formation of proper names in a
particular people. In works of fiction, names or titles, significant or
ludicrous, must be invented for the characters introduced; and some
authors excel in their fabrication, while others are equally
unfortunate. Foreign novels, perhaps, attempt to frame English surnames,
and signally fail; yet what every one feels to be the case, no one can
analyze: that is, our surnames are constructed on a law which is only
exhibited in particular instances, and which rules their formation on
certain, though subtle, determinations.

And so in philosophy, the systems of physics or morals, which go by
celebrated names, proceed upon the assumption of certain conditions
which are necessary for every stage of their development. The Newtonian
theory of gravitation is based on certain axioms; for instance, that the
fewest causes assignable for phenomena are the true ones: and the
application of science to practical purposes depends upon the hypothesis
that what happens to-day will happen to-morrow.

And so in military matters, the discovery of gunpowder developed the
science of attack and defence in a new instrumentality. Again, it is
said that when Napoleon began his career of victories, the enemy's
generals pronounced that his battles were fought against rule, and that
he ought not to be victorious.


So states have their respective policies, on which they move forward,
and which are the conditions of their well-being. Thus it is sometimes
said that the true policy of the American Union, or the law of its
prosperity, is not the enlargement of its territory, but the
cultivation of its internal resources. Thus Russia is said to be weak in
attack, strong in defence, and to grow, not by the sword, but by
diplomacy. Thus Islamism is said to be the form or life of the Ottoman,
and Protestantism of the British Empire, and the admission of European
ideas into the one, or of Catholic ideas into the other, to be the
destruction of the respective conditions of their power. Thus Augustus
and Tiberius governed by dissimulation; thus Pericles in his "Funeral
Oration" draws out the principles of the Athenian commonwealth, viz.,
that it is carried on, not by formal and severe enactments, but by the
ethical character and spontaneous energy of the people.

The political principles of Christianity, if it be right to use such
words of a divine polity, are laid down for us in the Sermon on the
Mount. Contrariwise to other empires, Christians conquer by yielding;
they gain influence by shrinking from it; they possess the earth by
renouncing it. Gibbon speaks of "the vices of the clergy" as being "to a
philosophic eye far less dangerous than their virtues."[184:1]

Again, as to Judaism, it may be asked on what law it developed; that is,
whether Mahometanism may not be considered as a sort of Judaism, as
formed by the presence of a different class of influences. In this
contrast between them, perhaps it may be said that the expectation of a
Messiah was the principle or law which expanded the elements, almost
common to Judaism with Mahometanism, into their respective
characteristic shapes.

One of the points of discipline to which Wesley attached most importance
was that of preaching early in the morning. This was his principle. In
Georgia, he began preaching at five o'clock every day, winter and
summer. "Early preaching," he said, "is the glory of the Methodists;
whenever this is dropt, they will dwindle away into nothing, they have
lost their first love, they are a fallen people."


Now, these instances show, as has been incidentally observed of some of
them, that the destruction of the special laws or principles of a
development is its corruption. Thus, as to nations, when we talk of the
spirit of a people being lost, we do not mean that this or that act has
been committed, or measure carried, but that certain lines of thought or
conduct by which it has grown great are abandoned. Thus the Roman Poets
consider their State in course of ruin because its _prisci mores_ and
_pietas_ were failing. And so we speak of countries or persons as being
in a false position, when they take up a course of policy, or assume a
profession, inconsistent with their natural interests or real character.
Judaism, again, was rejected when it rejected the Messiah.

Thus the _continuity or the alteration of the principles_ on which an
idea has developed is a second mark of discrimination between a true
development and a corruption.



In the physical world, whatever has life is characterized by growth, so
that in no respect to grow is to cease to live. It grows by taking into
its own substance external materials; and this absorption or
assimilation is completed when the materials appropriated come to belong
to it or enter into its unity. Two things cannot become one, except
there be a power of assimilation in one or the other. Sometimes
assimilation is effected only with an effort; it is possible to die of
repletion, and there are animals who lie torpid for a time under the
contest between the foreign substance and the assimilating power. And
different food is proper for different recipients.

This analogy may be taken to illustrate certain peculiarities in the
growth or development in ideas, which were noticed in the first Chapter.
It is otherwise with mathetical and other abstract creations, which,
like the soul itself, are solitary and self-dependent; but doctrines and
views which relate to man are not placed in a void, but in the crowded
world, and make way for themselves by interpenetration, and develope by
absorption. Facts and opinions, which have hitherto been regarded in
other relations and grouped round other centres, henceforth are
gradually attracted to a new influence and subjected to a new sovereign.
They are modified, laid down afresh, thrust aside, as the case may be. A
new element of order and composition has come among them; and its life
is proved by this capacity of expansion, without disarrangement or
dissolution. An eclectic, conservative, assimilating, healing, moulding
process, a unitive power, is of the essence, and a third test, of a
faithful development.


Thus, a power of development is a proof of life, not only in its essay,
but especially in its success; for a mere formula either does not expand
or is shattered in expanding. A living idea becomes many, yet remains

The attempt at development shows the presence of a principle, and its
success the presence of an idea. Principles stimulate thought, and an
idea concentrates it.

The idea never was that throve and lasted, yet, like mathematical truth,
incorporated nothing from external sources. So far from the fact of such
incorporation implying corruption, as is sometimes supposed, development
is a process of incorporation. Mahometanism may be in external
developments scarcely more than a compound of other theologies, yet no
one would deny that there has been a living idea somewhere in a
religion, which has been so strong, so wide, so lasting a bond of union
in the history of the world. Why it has not continued to develope after
its first preaching, if this be the case, as it seems to be, cannot be
determined without a greater knowledge of that religion, and how far it
is merely political, how far theological, than we commonly possess.


In Christianity, opinion, while a raw material, is called philosophy or
scholasticism; when a rejected refuse, it is called heresy.

Ideas are more open to an external bias in their commencement than
afterwards; hence the great majority of writers who consider the
Medieval Church corrupt, trace its corruption to the first four
centuries, not to what are called the dark ages.

That an idea more readily coalesces with these ideas than with those
does not show that it has been unduly influenced, that is, corrupted by
them, but that it has an antecedent affinity to them. At least it shall
be assumed here that, when the Gospels speak of virtue going out of our
Lord, and of His healing with the clay which His lips had moistened,
they afford instances, not of a perversion of Christianity, but of
affinity to notions which were external to it; and that St. Paul was not
biassed by Orientalism, though he said, after the manner of some Eastern
sects, that it was "excellent not to touch a woman."


Thus in politics, too, ideas are sometimes proposed, discussed,
rejected, or adopted, as it may happen, and sometimes they are shown to
be unmeaning and impossible; sometimes they are true, but partially so,
or in subordination to other ideas, with which, in consequence, they are
as wholes or in part incorporated, as far as these have affinities to
them, the power to incorporate being thus recognized as a property of
life. Mr. Bentham's system was an attempt to make the circle of legal
and moral truths developments of certain principles of his own;--those
principles of his may, if it so happen, prove unequal to the weight of
truths which are eternal, and the system founded on them may break into
pieces; or again, a State may absorb certain of them, for which it has
affinity, that is, it may develope in Benthamism, yet remain in
substance what it was before. In the history of the French Revolution we
read of many middle parties, who attempted to form theories of
constitutions short of those which they would call extreme, and
successively failed from the want of power or reality in their
characteristic ideas. The Semi-arians attempted a middle way between
orthodoxy and heresy, but could not stand their ground; at length part
fell into Macedonianism, and part joined the Church.


The stronger and more living is an idea, that is, the more powerful hold
it exercises on the minds of men, the more able is it to dispense with
safeguards, and trust to itself against the danger of corruption. As
strong frames exult in their agility, and healthy constitutions throw
off ailments, so parties or schools that live can afford to be rash, and
will sometimes be betrayed into extravagances, yet are brought right by
their inherent vigour. On the other hand, unreal systems are commonly
decent externally. Forms, subscriptions, or Articles of religion are
indispensable when the principle of life is weakly. Thus Presbyterianism
has maintained its original theology in Scotland where legal
subscriptions are enforced, while it has run into Arianism or
Unitarianism where that protection is away. We have yet to see whether
the Free Kirk can keep its present theological ground. The Church of
Rome can consult expedience more freely than other bodies, as trusting
to her living tradition, and is sometimes thought to disregard principle
and scruple, when she is but dispensing with forms. Thus Saints are
often characterized by acts which are no pattern for others; and the
most gifted men are, by reason of their very gifts, sometimes led into
fatal inadvertences. Hence vows are the wise defence of unstable virtue,
and general rules the refuge of feeble authority.

And so much may suffice on the _unitive power_ of faithful developments,
which constitutes their third characteristic.



Logic is the organization of thought, and, as being such, is a security
for the faithfulness of intellectual developments; and the necessity of
using it is undeniable as far as this, that its rules must not be
transgressed. That it is not brought into exercise in every instance of
doctrinal development is owing to the varieties of mental constitution,
whether in communities or in individuals, with whom great truths or
seeming truths are lodged. The question indeed may be asked whether a
development can be other in any case than a logical operation; but, if
by this is meant a conscious reasoning from premisses to conclusion, of
course the answer must be in the negative. An idea under one or other
of its aspects grows in the mind by remaining there; it becomes familiar
and distinct, and is viewed in its relations; it leads to other aspects,
and these again to others, subtle, recondite, original, according to the
character, intellectual and moral, of the recipient; and thus a body of
thought is gradually formed without his recognizing what is going on
within him. And all this while, or at least from time to time, external
circumstances elicit into formal statement the thoughts which are coming
into being in the depths of his mind; and soon he has to begin to defend
them; and then again a further process must take place, of analyzing his
statements and ascertaining their dependence one on another. And thus he
is led to regard as consequences, and to trace to principles, what
hitherto he has discerned by a moral perception, and adopted on
sympathy; and logic is brought in to arrange and inculcate what no
science was employed in gaining.

And so in the same way, such intellectual processes, as are carried on
silently and spontaneously in the mind of a party or school, of
necessity come to light at a later date, and are recognized, and their
issues are scientifically arranged. And then logic has the further
function of propagation; analogy, the nature of the case, antecedent
probability, application of principles, congruity, expedience, being
some of the methods of proof by which the development is continued from
mind to mind and established in the faith of the community.

Yet even then the analysis is not made on a principle, or with any view
to its whole course and finished results. Each argument is brought for
an immediate purpose; minds develope step by step, without looking
behind them or anticipating their goal, and without either intention or
promise of forming a system. Afterwards, however, this logical character
which the whole wears becomes a test that the process has been a true
development, not a perversion or corruption, from its evident
naturalness; and in some cases from the gravity, distinctness,
precision, and majesty of its advance, and the harmony of its
proportions, like the tall growth, and graceful branching, and rich
foliage, of some vegetable production.


The process of development, thus capable of a logical expression, has
sometimes been invidiously spoken of as rationalism and contrasted with
faith. But, though a particular doctrine or opinion which is subjected
to development may happen to be rationalistic, and, as is the original,
such are its results: and though we may develope erroneously, that is,
reason incorrectly, yet the developing itself as little deserves that
imputation in any case, as an inquiry into an historical fact, which we
do not thereby make but ascertain,--for instance, whether or not St.
Mark wrote his Gospel with St. Matthew before him, or whether Solomon
brought his merchandise from Tartessus or some Indian port. Rationalism
is the exercise of reason instead of faith in matters of faith; but one
does not see how it can be faith to adopt the premisses, and unbelief to
accept the conclusion.

At the same time it may be granted that the spontaneous process which
goes on within the mind itself is higher and choicer than that which is
logical; for the latter, being scientific, is common property, and can
be taken and made use of by minds who are personally strangers, in any
true sense, both to the ideas in question and to their development.


Thus, the holy Apostles would without words know all the truths
concerning the high doctrines of theology, which controversialists
after them have piously and charitably reduced to formulæ, and developed
through argument. Thus, St. Justin or St. Irenæus might be without any
digested ideas of Purgatory or Original Sin, yet have an intense
feeling, which they had not defined or located, both of the fault of our
first nature and the responsibilities of our nature regenerate. Thus St.
Antony said to the philosophers who came to mock him, "He whose mind is
in health does not need letters;" and St. Ignatius Loyola, while yet an
unlearned neophyte, was favoured with transcendent perceptions of the
Holy Trinity during his penance at Manresa. Thus St. Athanasius himself
is more powerful in statement and exposition than in proof; while in
Bellarmine we find the whole series of doctrines carefully drawn out,
duly adjusted with one another, and exactly analyzed one by one.

The history of empires and of public men supplies so many instances of
logical development in the field of politics, that it is needless to do
more than to refer to one of them. It is illustrated by the words of
Jeroboam, "Now shall this kingdom return to the house of David, if this
people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem. . .
Wherefore the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said
unto them, Behold thy gods, O Israel." Idolatry was a duty of kingcraft
with the schismatical kingdom.


A specimen of logical development is afforded us in the history of
Lutheranism as it has of late years been drawn out by various English
writers. Luther started on a double basis, his dogmatic principle being
contradicted by his right of private judgment, and his sacramental by
his theory of justification. The sacramental element never showed signs
of life; but on his death, that which he represented in his own person
as a teacher, the dogmatic, gained the ascendancy; and "every expression
of his upon controverted points became a norm for the party, which, at
all times the largest, was at last coextensive with the Church itself.
This almost idolatrous veneration was perhaps increased by the selection
of declarations of faith, of which the substance on the whole was his,
for the symbolical books of his Church."[193:1] Next a reaction took
place; private judgment was restored to the supremacy. Calixtus put
reason, and Spener the so-called religion of the heart, in the place of
dogmatic correctness. Pietism for the time died away; but rationalism
developed in Wolf, who professed to prove all the orthodox doctrines, by
a process of reasoning, from premisses level with the reason. It was
soon found that the instrument which Wolf had used for orthodoxy, could
as plausibly be used against it;--in his hands it had proved the Creed;
in the hands of Semler, Ernesti, and others, it disproved the authority
of Scripture. What was religion to be made to consist in now? A sort of
philosophical Pietism followed; or rather Spener's pietism and the
original theory of justification were analyzed more thoroughly, and
issued in various theories of Pantheism, which from the first was at the
bottom of Luther's doctrine and personal character. And this appears to
be the state of Lutheranism at present, whether we view it in the
philosophy of Kant, in the open infidelity of Strauss, or in the
religious professions of the new Evangelical Church of Prussia. Applying
this instance to the subject which it has been here brought to
illustrate, I should say that the equable and orderly march and natural
succession of views, by which the creed of Luther has been changed into
the infidel or heretical philosophy of his present representatives, is a
proof that that change is no perversion or corruption, but a faithful
development of the original idea.


This is but one out of many instances with which the history of the
Church supplies us. The fortunes of a theological school are made, in a
later generation, the measure of the teaching of its founder. The great
Origen after his many labours died in peace; his immediate pupils were
saints and rulers in the Church; he has the praise of St. Athanasius,
St. Basil, and St. Gregory Nazianzen, and furnishes materials to St.
Ambrose and St. Hilary; yet, as time proceeded, a definite heterodoxy
was the growing result of his theology, and at length, three hundred
years after his death, he was condemned, and, as has generally been
considered, in an Ecumenical Council.[194:1] "Diodorus of Tarsus," says
Tillemont, "died at an advanced age, in the peace of the Church,
honoured by the praises of the greatest saints, and crowned with a
glory, which, having ever attended him through life, followed him after
his death;"[194:2] yet St. Cyril of Alexandria considers him and
Theodore of Mopsuestia the true authors of Nestorianism, and he was
placed in the event by the Nestorians among their saints. Theodore
himself was condemned after his death by the same Council which is said
to have condemned Origen, and is justly considered the chief
rationalizing doctor of Antiquity; yet he was in the highest repute in
his day, and the Eastern Synod complains, as quoted by Facundus, that
"Blessed Theodore, who died so happily, who was so eminent a teacher for
five and forty years, and overthrew every heresy, and in his lifetime
experienced no imputation from the orthodox, now after his death so
long ago, after his many conflicts, after his ten thousand books
composed in refutation of errors, after his approval in the sight of
priests, emperors, and people, runs the risk of receiving the reward of
heretics, and of being called their chief."[195:1] There is a certain
continuous advance and determinate path which belong to the history of a
doctrine, policy, or institution, and which impress upon the common
sense of mankind, that what it ultimately becomes is the issue of what
it was at first. This sentiment is expressed in the proverb, not limited
to Latin, _Exitus acta probat_; and is sanctioned by Divine wisdom,
when, warning us against false prophets, it says, "Ye shall know them by
their fruits."

A doctrine, then, professed in its mature years by a philosophy or
religion, is likely to be a true development, not a corruption, in
proportion as it seems to be the _logical issue_ of its original



Since, when an idea is living, that is, influential and effective, it is
sure to develope according to its own nature, and the tendencies, which
are carried out on the long run, may under favourable circumstances show
themselves early as well as late, and logic is the same in all ages,
instances of a development which is to come, though vague and isolated,
may occur from the very first, though a lapse of time be necessary to
bring them to perfection. And since developments are in great measure
only aspects of the idea from which they proceed, and all of them are
natural consequences of it, it is often a matter of accident in what
order they are carried out in individual minds; and it is in no wise
strange that here and there definite specimens of advanced teaching
should very early occur, which in the historical course are not found
till a late day. The fact, then, of such early or recurring intimations
of tendencies which afterwards are fully realized, is a sort of evidence
that those later and more systematic fulfilments are only in accordance
with the original idea.


Nothing is more common, for instance, than accounts or legends of the
anticipations, which great men have given in boyhood of the bent of
their minds, as afterwards displayed in their history; so much so that
the popular expectation has sometimes led to the invention of them. The
child Cyrus mimics a despot's power, and St. Athanasius is elected
Bishop by his playfellows.

It is noticeable that in the eleventh century, when the Russians were
but pirates upon the Black Sea, Constantinople was their aim; and that a
prophesy was in circulation in that city that they should one day gain
possession of it.

In the reign of James the First, we have an observable anticipation of
the system of influence in the management of political parties, which
was developed by Sir R. Walpole a century afterwards. This attempt is
traced by a living writer to the ingenuity of Lord Bacon. "He submitted
to the King that there were expedients for more judiciously managing a
House of Commons; . . that much might be done by forethought towards
filling the House with well-affected persons, winning or blinding the
lawyers . . and drawing the chief constituent bodies of the assembly,
the country gentlemen, the merchants, the courtiers, to act for the
King's advantage; that it would be expedient to tender voluntarily
certain graces and modifications of the King's prerogative," &c.[197:1]
The writer adds, "This circumstance, like several others in the present
reign, is curious, as it shows the rise of a systematic parliamentary
influence, which was one day to become the mainspring of government."


Arcesilas and Carneades, the founders of the later Academy, are known to
have innovated on the Platonic doctrine by inculcating a universal
scepticism; and they did this, as if on the authority of Socrates, who
had adopted the method of _ironia_ against the Sophists, on their
professing to know everything. This, of course, was an insufficient
plea. However, could it be shown that Socrates did on one or two
occasions evidence deliberate doubts on the great principles of theism
or morals, would any one deny that the innovation in question had
grounds for being considered a true development, not a corruption?

It is certain that, in the idea of Monachism, prevalent in ancient
times, manual labour had a more prominent place than study; so much so
that De Rancé, the celebrated Abbot of La Trappe, in controversy with
Mabillon, maintained his ground with great plausibility against the
latter's apology for the literary occupations for which the Benedictines
of France are so famous. Nor can it be denied that the labours of such
as Mabillon and Montfaucon are at least a development upon the
simplicity of the primitive institution. And yet it is remarkable that
St. Pachomius, the first author of a monastic rule, enjoined a library
in each of his houses, and appointed conferences and disputations three
times a week on religious subjects, interpretation of Scripture, or
points of theology. St. Basil, the founder of Monachism in Pontus, one
of the most learned of the Greek Fathers, wrote his theological
treatises in the intervals of agricultural labour. St. Jerome, the
author of the Latin versions of Scripture, lived as a poor monk in a
cell at Bethlehem. These, indeed, were but exceptions in the character
of early Monachism; but they suggest its capabilities and anticipate its
history. Literature is certainly not inconsistent with its idea.


In the controversies with the Gnostics, in the second century, striking
anticipations occasionally occur, in the works of their Catholic
opponents, of the formal dogmatic teaching developed in the Church in
the course of the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies in the fifth.
On the other hand, Paul of Samosata, one of the first disciples of the
Syrian school of theology, taught a heresy sufficiently like
Nestorianism, in which that school terminated, to be mistaken for it in
later times; yet for a long while after him the characteristic of the
school was Arianism, an opposite heresy.

Lutheranism has by this time become in most places almost simple heresy
or infidelity; it has terminated, if it has even yet reached its limit,
in a denial both of the Canon and the Creed, nay, of many principles of
morals. Accordingly the question arises, whether these conclusions are
in fairness to be connected with its original teaching or are a
corruption. And it is no little aid towards its resolution to find that
Luther himself at one time rejected the Apocalypse, called the Epistle
of St. James "straminea," condemned the word "Trinity," fell into a kind
of Eutychianism in his view of the Holy Eucharist, and in a particular
case sanctioned bigamy. Calvinism, again, in various distinct countries,
has become Socinianism, and Calvin himself seems to have denied our
Lord's Eternal Sonship and ridiculed the Nicene Creed.

Another evidence, then, of the faithfulness of an ultimate development
is its _definite anticipation_ at an early period in the history of the
idea to which it belongs.



As developments which are preceded by definite indications have a fair
presumption in their favour, so those which do but contradict and
reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and
out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt; for a corruption is a
development in that very stage in which it ceases to illustrate, and
begins to disturb, the acquisitions gained in its previous history.

It is the rule of creation, or rather of the phenomena which it
presents, that life passes on to its termination by a gradual,
imperceptible course of change. There is ever a maximum in earthly
excellence, and the operation of the same causes which made things great
makes them small again. Weakness is but the resulting product of power.
Events move in cycles; all things come round, "the sun ariseth and goeth
down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." Flowers first bloom, and
then fade; fruit ripens and decays. The fermenting process, unless
stopped at the due point, corrupts the liquor which it has created. The
grace of spring, the richness of autumn are but for a moment, and
worldly moralists bid us _Carpe diem_, for we shall have no second
opportunity. Virtue seems to lie in a mean, between vice and vice; and
as it grew out of imperfection, so to grow into enormity. There is a
limit to human knowledge, and both sacred and profane writers witness
that overwisdom is folly. And in the political world states rise and
fall, the instruments of their aggrandizement becoming the weapons of
their destruction. And hence the frequent ethical maxims, such as, "_Ne
quid nimis_," "_Medio tutissimus_," "Vaulting ambition," which seem to
imply that too much of what is good is evil.

So great a paradox of course cannot be maintained as that truth
literally leads to falsehood, or that there can be an excess of virtue;
but the appearance of things and the popular language about them will at
least serve us in obtaining an additional test for the discrimination of
a _bonâ fide_ development of an idea from its corruption.

A true development, then, may be described as one which is conservative
of the course of antecedent developments being really those antecedents
and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not
obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it
proceeds; and this is its characteristic as contrasted with a


For instance, a gradual conversion from a false to a true religion,
plainly, has much of the character of a continuous process, or a
development, in the mind itself, even when the two religions, which are
the limits of its course, are antagonists. Now let it be observed, that
such a change consists in addition and increase chiefly, not in
destruction. "True religion is the summit and perfection of false
religions; it combines in one whatever there is of good and true
separately remaining in each. And in like manner the Catholic Creed is
for the most part the combination of separate truths, which heretics
have divided among themselves, and err in dividing. So that, in matter
of fact, if a religious mind were educated in and sincerely attached to
some form of heathenism or heresy, and then were brought under the light
of truth, it would be drawn off from error into the truth, not by losing
what it had, but by gaining what it had not, not by being unclothed, but
by being 'clothed upon,' 'that mortality may be swallowed up of life.'
That same principle of faith which attaches it at first to the wrong
doctrine would attach it to the truth; and that portion of its original
doctrine, which was to be cast off as absolutely false, would not be
directly rejected, but indirectly, _in_ the reception of the truth which
is its opposite. True conversion is ever of a positive, not a negative

Such too is the theory of the Fathers as regards the doctrines fixed by
Councils, as is instanced in the language of St. Leo. "To be seeking for
what has been disclosed, to reconsider what has been finished, to tear
up what has been laid down, what is this but to be unthankful for what
is gained?"[201:2] Vincentius of Lerins, in like manner, speaks of the
development of Christian doctrine, as _profectus fidei non
permutatio_.[201:3] And so as regards the Jewish Law, our Lord said that
He came "not to destroy, but to fulfil."


Mahomet is accused of contradicting his earlier revelations by his
later, "which is a thing so well known to those of his sect that they
all acknowledge it; and therefore when the contradictions are such as
they cannot solve them, then they will have one of the contradictory
places to be revoked. And they reckon in the whole Alcoran about a
hundred and fifty verses which are thus revoked."[201:4]

Schelling, says Mr. Dewar, considers "that the time has arrived when an
esoteric speculative Christianity ought to take the place of the
exoteric empiricism which has hitherto prevailed." This German
philosopher "acknowledges that such a project is opposed to the evident
design of the Church, and of her earliest teachers."[202:1]


When Roman Catholics are accused of substituting another Gospel for the
primitive Creed, they answer that they hold, and can show that they
hold, the doctrines of the Incarnation and Atonement, as firmly as any
Protestant can state them. To this it is replied that they do certainly
profess them, but that they obscure and virtually annul them by their
additions; that the _cultus_ of St. Mary and the Saints is no
development of the truth, but a corruption and a religious mischief to
those doctrines of which it is the corruption, because it draws away the
mind and heart from Christ. But they answer that, so far from this, it
subserves, illustrates, protects the doctrine of our Lord's loving
kindness and mediation. Thus the parties in controversy join issue on
the common ground, that a developed doctrine which reverses the course
of development which has preceded it, is no true development but a
corruption; also, that what is corrupt acts as an element of
unhealthiness towards what is sound. This subject, however, will come
before us in its proper place by and by.


Blackstone supplies us with an instance in another subject-matter, of a
development which is justified by its utility, when he observes that
"when society is once formed, government results of course, as necessary
to preserve and to keep that society in order."[202:2]

On the contrary, when the Long Parliament proceeded to usurp the
executive, they impaired the popular liberties which they seemed to be
advancing; for the security of those liberties depends on the separation
of the executive and legislative powers, or on the enactors being
subjects, not executors of the laws.

And in the history of ancient Rome, from the time that the privileges
gained by the tribunes in behalf of the people became an object of
ambition to themselves, the development had changed into a corruption.

And thus a sixth test of a true development is that it is of a _tendency
conservative_ of what has gone before it.



Since the corruption of an idea, as far as the appearance goes, is a
sort of accident or affection of its development, being the end of a
course, and a transition-state leading to a crisis, it is, as has been
observed above, a brief and rapid process. While ideas live in men's
minds, they are ever enlarging into fuller development: they will not be
stationary in their corruption any more than before it; and dissolution
is that further state to which corruption tends. Corruption cannot,
therefore, be of long standing; and thus _duration_ is another test of a
faithful development.

_Si gravis, brevis; si longus, levis_; is the Stoical topic of
consolation under pain; and of a number of disorders it can even be
said, The worse, the shorter.

Sober men are indisposed to change in civil matters, and fear reforms
and innovations, lest, if they go a little too far, they should at once
run on to some great calamities before a remedy can be applied. The
chance of a slow corruption does not strike them. Revolutions are
generally violent and swift; now, in fact, they are the course of a


The course of heresies is always short; it is an intermediate state
between life and death, or what is like death; or, if it does not result
in death, it is resolved into some new, perhaps opposite, course of
error, which lays no claim to be connected with it. And in this way
indeed, but in this way only, an heretical principle will continue in
life many years, first running one way, then another.

The abounding of iniquity is the token of the end approaching; the
faithful in consequence cry out, How long? as if delay opposed reason as
well as patience. Three years and a half are to complete the reign of

Nor is it any real objection that the world is ever corrupt, and yet, in
spite of this, evil does not fill up its measure and overflow; for this
arises from the external counteractions of truth and virtue, which bear
it back; let the Church be removed, and the world will soon come to its

And so again, if the chosen people age after age became worse and worse,
till there was no recovery, still their course of evil was continually
broken by reformations, and was thrown back upon a less advanced stage
of declension.


It is true that decay, which is one form of corruption, is slow; but
decay is a state in which there is no violent or vigorous action at all,
whether of a conservative or a destructive character, the hostile
influence being powerful enough to enfeeble the functions of life, but
not to quicken its own process. And thus we see opinions, usages, and
systems, which are of venerable and imposing aspect, but which have no
soundness within them, and keep together from a habit of consistence, or
from dependence on political institutions; or they become almost
peculiarities of a country, or the habits of a race, or the fashions of
society. And then, at length, perhaps, they go off suddenly and die out
under the first rough influence from without. Such are the superstitions
which pervade a population, like some ingrained dye or inveterate odour,
and which at length come to an end, because nothing lasts for ever, but
which run no course, and have no history; such was the established
paganism of classical times, which was the fit subject of persecution,
for its first breath made it crumble and disappear. Such apparently is
the state of the Nestorian and Monophysite communions; such might have
been the condition of Christianity had it been absorbed by the feudalism
of the middle ages; such too is that Protestantism, or (as it sometimes
calls itself) attachment to the Establishment, which is not unfrequently
the boast of the respectable and wealthy among ourselves.

Whether Mahometanism external to Christendom, and the Greek Church
within it, fall under this description is yet to be seen. Circumstances
can be imagined which would even now rouse the fanaticism of the Moslem;
and the Russian despotism does not meddle with the usages, though it may
domineer over the priesthood, of the national religion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus, while a corruption is distinguished from decay by its energetic
action, it is distinguished from a development by its _transitory


Such are seven out of various Notes, which may be assigned, of fidelity
in the development of an idea. The point to be ascertained is the unity
and identity of the idea with itself through all stages of its
development from first to last, and these are seven tokens that it may
rightly be accounted one and the same all along. To guarantee its own
substantial unity, it must be seen to be one in type, one in its system
of principles, one in its unitive power towards externals, one in its
logical consecutiveness, one in the witness of its early phases to its
later, one in the protection which its later extend to its earlier, and
one in its union of vigour with continuance, that is, in its tenacity.


[172:1] Commonit. 29.

[173:1] Milman, Christ.

[174:1] De Deo, ii. 4, § 8.

[184:1] Ch. xlix.

[193:1] Pusey on German Rationalism, p. 21, note.

[194:1] Halloix, Valesius, Lequien, Gieseler, Döllinger, &c., say that
he was condemned, not in the fifth Council, but in the Council under

[194:2] Mem. Eccl. tom. viii. p. 562.

[195:1] Def. Tr. Cap. viii. init.

[197:1] Hallam's Const. Hist. ch. vi. p. 461.

[201:1] Tracts for the Times, No. 85, p. 73. [Discuss. p. 200; _vide_
also Essay on Assent, pp. 249-251.]

[201:2] Ep. 162.

[201:3] Ib. p. 309.

[201:4] Prideaux, Life of Mahomet, p. 90.

[202:1] German Protestantism, p. 176.

[202:2] Vol. i. p. 118.




Now let me attempt to apply the foregoing seven Notes of fidelity in
intellectual developments to the instance of Christian Doctrine. And
first as to the Note of _identity of type_.

I have said above, that, whereas all great ideas are found, as time goes
on, to involve much which was not seen at first to belong to them, and
have developments, that is enlargements, applications, uses and
fortunes, very various, one security against error and perversion in the
process is the maintenance of the original type, which the idea
presented to the world at its origin, amid and through all its apparent
changes and vicissitudes from first to last.

How does this apply to Christianity? What is its original type? and has
that type been preserved in the developments commonly called Catholic,
which have followed, and in the Church which embodies and teaches them?
Let us take it as the world now views it in its age; and let us take it
as the world once viewed it in its youth, and let us see whether there
be any great difference between the early and the later description of
it. The following statement will show my meaning:--

There is a religious communion claiming a divine commission, and
holding all other religious bodies around it heretical or infidel; it is
a well-organized, well-disciplined body; it is a sort of secret society,
binding together its members by influences and by engagements which it
is difficult for strangers to ascertain. It is spread over the known
world; it may be weak or insignificant locally, but it is strong on the
whole from its continuity; it may be smaller than all other religious
bodies together, but is larger than each separately. It is a natural
enemy to governments external to itself; it is intolerant and
engrossing, and tends to a new modelling of society; it breaks laws, it
divides families. It is a gross superstition; it is charged with the
foulest crimes; it is despised by the intellect of the day; it is
frightful to the imagination of the many. And there is but one communion

Place this description before Pliny or Julian; place it before Frederick
the Second or Guizot.[208:1] "Apparent diræ facies." Each knows at once,
without asking a question, who is meant by it. One object, and only one,
absorbs each item of the detail of the delineation.



The _primâ facie_ view of early Christianity, in the eyes of witnesses
external to it, is presented to us in the brief but vivid descriptions
given by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, the only heathen writers who
distinctly mention it for the first hundred and fifty years.

Tacitus is led to speak of the Religion, on occasion of the
conflagration of Rome, which was popularly imputed to Nero. "To put an
end to the report," he says, "he laid the guilt on others, and visited
them with the most exquisite punishment, those, namely, who, held in
abhorrence for their crimes (_per flagitia invisos_), were popularly
called Christians. The author of that profession (_nominis_) was Christ,
who, in the reign of Tiberius, was capitally punished by the Procurator,
Pontius Pilate. The deadly superstition (_exitiabilis superstitio_),
though checked for a while, broke out afresh; and that, not only
throughout Judæa, the original seat of the evil, but through the City
also, whither all things atrocious or shocking (_atrocia aut pudenda_)
flow together from every quarter and thrive. At first, certain were
seized who avowed it; then, on their report, a vast multitude were
convicted, not so much of firing the City, as of hatred of mankind
(_odio humani generis_)." After describing their tortures, he continues
"In consequence, though they were guilty, and deserved most signal
punishment, they began to be pitied, as if destroyed not for any public
object, but from the barbarity of one man."

Suetonius relates the same transactions thus: "Capital punishments were
inflicted on the Christians, a class of men of a new and magical
superstition (_superstitionis novæ et maleficæ_)." What gives additional
character to this statement is its context; for it occurs as one out of
various police or sumptuary or domestic regulations, which Nero made;
such as "controlling private expenses, forbidding taverns to serve meat,
repressing the contests of theatrical parties, and securing the
integrity of wills." When Pliny was Governor of Pontus, he wrote his
celebrated letter to the Emperor Trajan, to ask advice how he was to
deal with the Christians, whom he found there in great numbers. One of
his points of hesitation was, whether the very profession of
Christianity was not by itself sufficient to justify punishment;
"whether the name itself should be visited, though clear of flagitious
acts (_flagitia_), or only when connected with them." He says, he had
ordered for execution such as persevered in their profession, after
repeated warnings, "as not doubting, whatever it was they professed,
that at any rate contumacy and inflexible obstinacy ought to be
punished." He required them to invoke the gods, to sacrifice wine and
frankincense to the images of the Emperor, and to blaspheme Christ; "to
which," he adds, "it is said no real Christian can be compelled."
Renegades informed him that "the sum total of their offence or fault was
meeting before light on an appointed day, and saying with one another a
form of words (_carmen_) to Christ, as if to a god, and binding
themselves by oath, (not to the commission of any wickedness, but)
against the commission of theft, robbery, adultery, breach of trust,
denial of deposits; that, after this they were accustomed to separate,
and then to meet again for a meal, but eaten all together and harmless;
however, that they had even left this off after his edicts enforcing the
Imperial prohibition of _Hetæriæ_ or Associations." He proceeded to put
two women to the torture, but "discovered nothing beyond a bad and
excessive superstition" (_superstitionem pravam et immodicam_), "the
contagion" of which, he continues, "had spread through villages and
country, till the temples were emptied of worshippers."


In these testimonies, which will form a natural and convenient text for
what is to follow, we have various characteristics brought before us of
the religion to which they relate. It was a superstition, as all three
writers agree; a bad and excessive superstition, according to Pliny; a
magical superstition, according to Suetonius; a deadly superstition,
according to Tacitus. Next, it was embodied in a society, and moreover a
secret and unlawful society or _hetæria_; and it was a proselytizing
society; and its very name was connected with "flagitious," "atrocious,"
and "shocking" acts.


Now these few points, which are not all which might be set down, contain
in themselves a distinct and significant description of Christianity;
but they have far greater meaning when illustrated by the history of the
times, the testimony of later writers, and the acts of the Roman
government towards its professors. It is impossible to mistake the
judgment passed on the religion by these three writers, and still more
clearly by other writers and Imperial functionaries. They evidently
associated Christianity with the oriental superstitions, whether
propagated by individuals or embodied in a rite, which were in that day
traversing the Empire, and which in the event acted so remarkable a part
in breaking up the national forms of worship, and so in preparing the
way for Christianity. This, then, is the broad view which the educated
heathen took of Christianity; and, if it had been very unlike those
rites and curious arts in external appearance, they would not have
confused it with them.

Changes in society are, by a providential appointment, commonly preceded
and facilitated by the setting in of a certain current in men's thoughts
and feelings in that direction towards which a change is to be made.
And, as lighter substances whirl about before the tempest and presage
it, so words and deeds, ominous but not effective of the coming
revolution, are circulated beforehand through the multitude, or pass
across the field of events. This was specially the case with
Christianity, as became its high dignity; it came heralded and attended
by a crowd of shadows, shadows of itself, impotent and monstrous as
shadows are, but not at first sight distinguishable from it by common
spectators. Before the mission of the Apostles, a movement, of which
there had been earlier parallels, had begun in Egypt, Syria, and the
neighbouring countries, tending to the propagation of new and peculiar
forms of worship throughout the Empire. Prophecies were afloat that some
new order of things was coming in from the East, which increased the
existing unsettlement of the popular mind; pretenders made attempts to
satisfy its wants, and old Traditions of the Truth, embodied for ages in
local or in national religions, gave to these attempts a doctrinal and
ritual shape, which became an additional point of resemblance to that
Truth which was soon visibly to appear.


The distinctive character of the rites in question lay in their
appealing to the gloomy rather than to the cheerful and hopeful
feelings, and in their influencing the mind through fear. The notions of
guilt and expiation, of evil and good to come, and of dealings with the
invisible world, were in some shape or other pre-eminent in them, and
formed a striking contrast to the classical polytheism, which was gay
and graceful, as was natural in a civilized age. The new rites, on the
other hand, were secret; their doctrine was mysterious; their profession
was a discipline, beginning in a formal initiation, manifested in an
association, and exercised in privation and pain. They were from the
nature of the case proselytizing societies, for they were rising into
power; nor were they local, but vagrant, restless, intrusive, and
encroaching. Their pretensions to supernatural knowledge brought them
into easy connexion with magic and astrology, which are as attractive to
the wealthy and luxurious as the more vulgar superstitions to the


Such were the rites of Cybele, Isis, and Mithras; such the Chaldeans, as
they were commonly called, and the Magi; they came from one part of the
world, and during the first and second century spread with busy
perseverance to the northern and western extremities of the
empire.[213:1] Traces of the mysteries of Cybele, a Syrian deity, if the
famous temple at Hierapolis was hers, have been found in Spain, in Gaul,
and in Britain, as high up as the wall of Severus. The worship of Isis
was the most widely spread of all the pagan deities; it was received in
Ethiopia and in Germany, and even the name of Paris has been fancifully
traced to it. Both worships, as well as the Science of Magic, had their
colleges of priests and devotees, which were governed by a president,
and in some places were supported by farms. Their processions passed
from town to town, begging as they went and attracting proselytes.
Apuleius describes one of them as seizing a whip, accusing himself of
some offence, and scourging himself in public. These strollers,
_circulatores_ or _agyrtæ_ in classical language, told fortunes, and
distributed prophetical tickets to the ignorant people who consulted
them. Also, they were learned in the doctrine of omens, of lucky and
unlucky days, of the rites of expiation and of sacrifices. Such an
_agyrtes_ or itinerant was the notorious Alexander of Abonotichus, till
he managed to establish himself in Pontus, where he carried on so
successful an imposition that his fame reached Rome, and men in office
and station entrusted him with their dearest political secrets. Such a
wanderer, with a far more religious bearing and a high reputation for
virtue, was Apollonius of Tyana, who professed the Pythagorean
philosophy, claimed the gift of miracles, and roamed about preaching,
teaching, healing, and prophesying from India and Alexandria to Athens
and Rome. Another solitary proselytizer, though of an earlier time and
of an avowed profligacy, had been the Sacrificulus, viewed with such
horror by the Roman Senate, as introducing the infamous Bacchic rites
into Rome. Such, again, were those degenerate children of a divine
religion, who, in the words of their Creator and Judge, "compassed sea
and land to make one proselyte," and made him "twofold more the child of
hell than themselves."


These vagrant religionists for the most part professed a severe rule of
life, and sometimes one of fanatical mortification. In the mysteries of
Mithras, the initiation[214:1] was preceded by fasting and abstinence,
and a variety of painful trials; it was made by means of a baptism as a
spiritual washing; and it included an offering of bread, and some emblem
of a resurrection. In the Samothracian rites it had been a custom to
initiate children; confession too of greater crimes seems to have been
required, and would naturally be involved in others in the inquisition
prosecuted into the past lives of the candidates for initiation. The
garments of the converts were white; their calling was considered as a
warfare (_militia_), and was undertaken with a _sacramentum_, or
military oath. The priests shaved their heads and wore linen, and when
they were dead were buried in a sacerdotal garment. It is scarcely
necessary to refer to the mutilation inflicted on the priests of Cybele;
one instance of their scourgings has been already mentioned; and
Tertullian speaks of their high priest cutting his arms for the life of
the Emperor Marcus.[215:1] The priests of Isis, in lamentation for
Osiris, tore their breasts with pine cones. This lamentation was a
ritual observance, founded on some religious mystery: Isis lost Osiris,
and the initiated wept in memory of her sorrow; the Syrian goddess had
wept over dead Thammuz, and her mystics commemorated it by a ceremonial
woe; in the rites of Bacchus, an image was laid on a bier at
midnight,[215:2] which was bewailed in metrical hymns; the god was
supposed to die, and then to revive. Nor was this the only worship which
was continued through the night; while some of the rites were performed
in caves.


Only a heavenly light can give purity to nocturnal and subterraneous
worship. Caves were at that time appropriated to the worship of the
infernal gods. It was but natural that these wild religions should be
connected with magic and its kindred arts; magic has at all times led to
cruelty, and licentiousness would be the inevitable reaction from a
temporary strictness. An extraordinary profession, when men are in a
state of mere nature, makes hypocrites or madmen, and will in no long
time be discarded except by the few. The world of that day associated
together in one company, Isiac, Phrygian, Mithriac, Chaldean, wizard,
astrologer, fortune-teller, itinerant, and, as was not unnatural, Jew.
Magic was professed by the profligate Alexander, and was imputed to the
grave Apollonius. The rites of Mithras came from the Magi of Persia; and
it is obviously difficult to distinguish in principle the ceremonies of
the Syrian Taurobolium from those of the Necyomantia in the Odyssey, or
of Canidia in Horace.

The Theodosian Code calls magic generally a "superstition;" and magic,
orgies, mysteries, and "sabbathizings," were referred to the same
"barbarous" origin. "Magical superstitions," the "rites of the Magi,"
the "promises of the Chaldeans," and the "Mathematici," are familiar to
the readers of Tacitus. The Emperor Otho, an avowed patron of oriental
fashions, took part in the rites of Isis, and consulted the Mathematici.
Vespasian, who also consulted them, is heard of in Egypt as performing
miracles at the suggestion of Serapis. Tiberius, in an edict, classes
together "Egyptian and Jewish rites;" and Tacitus and Suetonius, in
recording it, speak of the two religions together as "_ea
superstitio_."[216:1] Augustus had already associated them together as
superstitions, and as unlawful, and that in contrast to others of a like
foreign origin. "As to foreign rites (_peregrinæ ceremoniæ_)," says
Suetonius, "as he paid more reverence to those which were old and
enjoined, so did he hold the rest in contempt."[216:2] He goes on to say
that, even on the judgment-seat, he had recognized the Eleusinian
priests, into whose mysteries he had been initiated at Athens; "whereas,
when travelling in Egypt, he had refused to see Apis, and had approved
of his grandson Caligula's passing by Judæa without sacrificing at
Jerusalem." Plutarch speaks of magic as connected with the mournful
mysteries of Orpheus and Zoroaster, with the Egyptian and the Phrygian;
and, in his Treatise on Superstition, he puts together in one clause, as
specimens of that disease of mind, "covering oneself with mud, wallowing
in the mire, sabbathizings, fallings on the face, unseemly postures,
foreign adorations,"[216:3] Ovid mentions in consecutive verses the
rites of "Adonis lamented by Venus," "The Sabbath of the Syrian Jew,"
and the "Memphitic Temple of Io in her linen dress."[216:4] Juvenal
speaks of the rites, as well as the language and the music, of the
Syrian Orontes having flooded Rome; and, in his description of the
superstition of the Roman women, he places the low Jewish fortune-teller
between the pompous priests of Cybele and Isis, and the bloody
witchcraft of the Armenian haruspex and the astrology of the


The Christian, being at first accounted a kind of Jew, was even on that
score included in whatever odium, and whatever bad associations,
attended on the Jewish name. But in a little time his independence of
the rejected people was clearly understood, as even the persecutions
show; and he stood upon his own ground. Still his character did not
change in the eyes of the world; for favour or for reproach, he was
still associated with the votaries of secret and magical rites. The
Emperor Hadrian, noted as he is for his inquisitive temper, and a
partaker in so many mysteries,[217:2] still believed that the Christians
of Egypt allowed themselves in the worship of Serapis. They are brought
into connexion with the magic of Egypt in the history of what is
commonly called the Thundering Legion, so far as this, that the rain
which relieved the Emperor's army in the field, and which the Church
ascribed to the prayers of the Christian soldiers, is by Dio Cassius
attributed to an Egyptian magician, who obtained it by invoking Mercury
and other spirits. This war had been the occasion of one of the first
recognitions which the state had conceded to the Oriental rites, though
statesmen and emperors, as private men, had long taken part in them. The
Emperor Marcus had been urged by his fears of the Marcomanni to resort
to these foreign introductions, and is said to have employed Magi and
Chaldeans in averting an unsuccessful issue of the war. It is
observable that, in the growing countenance which was extended to these
rites in the third century, Christianity came in for a share. The chapel
of Alexander Severus contained statues of Abraham, Orpheus, Apollonius,
Pythagoras, and our Lord. Here indeed, as in the case of Zenobia's
Judaism, an eclectic philosophy aided the comprehension of religions.
But, immediately before Alexander, Heliogabalus, who was no philosopher,
while he formally seated his Syrian idol in the Palatine, while he
observed the mysteries of Cybele and Adonis, and celebrated his magic
rites with human victims, intended also, according to Lampridius, to
unite with his horrible superstition "the Jewish and Samaritan religions
and the Christian rite, that so the priesthood of Heliogabalus might
comprise the mystery of every worship."[218:1] Hence, more or less, the
stories which occur in ecclesiastical history of the conversion or
good-will of the emperors to the Christian faith, of Hadrian, Mammæa,
and others, besides Heliogabalus and Alexander. Such stories might often
mean little more than that they favoured it among other forms of
Oriental superstition.


What has been said is sufficient to bring before the mind an historical
fact, which indeed does not need evidence. Upon the established
religions of Europe the East had renewed her encroachments, and was
pouring forth a family of rites which in various ways attracted the
attention of the luxurious, the political, the ignorant, the restless,
and the remorseful. Armenian, Chaldee, Egyptian, Jew, Syrian, Phrygian,
as the case might be, was the designation of the new hierophant; and
magic, superstition, barbarism, jugglery, were the names given to his
rite by the world. In this company appeared Christianity. When then
three well-informed writers call Christianity a superstition and a
magical superstition, they were not using words at random, or the
language of abuse, but they were describing it in distinct and
recognized terms as cognate to those gloomy, secret, odious,
disreputable religions which were making so much disturbance up and down
the empire.


The impression made on the world by circumstances immediately before the
rise of Christianity received a sort of confirmation upon its rise, in
the appearance of the Gnostic and kindred heresies, which issued from
the Church during the second and third centuries. Their resemblance in
ritual and constitution to the Oriental religions, sometimes their
historical relationship, is undeniable; and certainly it is a singular
coincidence, that Christianity should be first called a magical
superstition by Suetonius, and then should be found in the intimate
company, and seemingly the parent, of a multitude of magical
superstitions, if there was nothing in the Religion itself to give rise
to such a charge.


The Gnostic family[219:1] suitably traces its origin to a mixed race,
which had commenced its national history by associating Orientalism with
Revelation. After the captivity of the ten tribes, Samaria was colonized
by "men from Babylon and Cushan, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from
Sepharvaim," who were instructed at their own instance in "the manner of
the God of the land," by one of the priests of the Church of Jeroboam.
The consequence was, that "they feared the Lord and served their own
gods." Of this country was Simon, the reputed patriarch of the
Gnostics; and he is introduced in the Acts of the Apostles as professing
those magical powers which were so principal a characteristic of the
Oriental mysteries. His heresy, though broken into a multitude of sects,
was poured over the world with a Catholicity not inferior in its day to
that of Christianity. St. Peter, who fell in with him originally in
Samaria, seems to have encountered him again at Rome. At Rome, St.
Polycarp met Marcion of Pontus, whose followers spread through Italy,
Egypt, Syria, Arabia, and Persia; Valentinus preached his doctrines in
Alexandria, Rome, and Cyprus; and we read of his disciples in Crete,
Cæsarea, Antioch, and other parts of the East. Bardesanes and his
followers were found in Mesopotamia. The Carpocratians are spoken of at
Alexandria, at Rome, and in Cephallenia; the Basilidians spread through
the greater part of Egypt; the Ophites were apparently in Bithynia and
Galatia; the Cainites or Caians in Africa, and the Marcosians in Gaul.
To these must be added several sects, which, though not strictly of the
Gnostic stock, are associated with them in date, character, and
origin;--the Ebionites of Palestine, the Cerinthians, who rose in some
part of Asia Minor, the Encratites and kindred sects, who spread from
Mesopotamia to Syria, to Cilicia and other provinces of Asia Minor, and
thence to Rome, Gaul, Aquitaine, and Spain; and the Montanists, who,
with a town in Phrygia for their metropolis, reached at length from
Constantinople to Carthage.

"When [the reader of Christian history] comes to the second century,"
says Dr. Burton, "he finds that Gnosticism, under some form or other,
was professed in every part of the then civilized world. He finds it
divided into schools, as numerously and as zealously attended as any
which Greece or Asia could boast in their happiest days. He meets with
names totally unknown to him before, which excited as much sensation as
those of Aristotle or Plato. He hears of volumes having been written in
support of this new philosophy, not one of which has survived to our own
day."[221:1] Many of the founders of these sects had been Christians;
others were of Jewish parentage; others were more or less connected in
fact with the Pagan rites to which their own bore so great a
resemblance. Montanus seems even to have been a mutilated priest of
Cybele; the followers of Prodicus professed to possess the secret books
of Zoroaster; and the doctrine of dualism, which so many of the sects
held, is to be traced to the same source. Basilides seems to have
recognized Mithras as the Supreme Being, or the Prince of Angels, or the
Sun, if Mithras is equivalent to Abraxas, which was inscribed upon his
amulets: on the other hand, he is said to have been taught by an
immediate disciple of St. Peter, and Valentinus by an immediate disciple
of St. Paul. Marcion was the son of a Bishop of Pontus; Tatian, a
disciple of St. Justin Martyr.


Whatever might be the history of these sects, and though it may be a
question whether they can be properly called "superstitions," and though
many of them numbered educated men among their teachers and followers,
they closely resembled, at least in ritual and profession, the vagrant
Pagan mysteries which have been above described. Their very name of
"Gnostic" implied the possession of a secret, which was to be
communicated to their disciples. Ceremonial observances were the
preparation, and symbolical rites the instrument, of initiation. Tatian
and Montanus, the representatives of very distinct schools, agreed in
making asceticism a rule of life. The followers of each of these
sectaries abstained from wine; the Tatianites and Marcionites, from
flesh; the Montanists kept three Lents in the year. All the Gnostic
sects seem to have condemned marriage on one or other reason.[222:1] The
Marcionites had three baptisms or more; the Marcosians had two rites of
what they called redemption; the latter of these was celebrated as a
marriage, and the room adorned as a marriage-chamber. A consecration to
a priesthood then followed with anointing. An extreme unction was
another of their rites, and prayers for the dead one of their
observances. Bardesanes and Harmonius were famous for the beauty of
their chants. The prophecies of Montanus were delivered, like the
oracles of the heathen, in a state of enthusiasm or ecstasy. To
Epiphanes, the son of Carpocrates, who died at the age of seventeen, a
temple was erected in the island of Cephallenia, his mother's
birthplace, where he was celebrated with hymns and sacrifices. A similar
honour was paid by the Carpocratians to Homer, Pythagoras, Plato,
Aristotle, as well as to the Apostles; crowns were placed upon their
images, and incense burned before them. In one of the inscriptions found
at Cyrene, about twenty years since, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Epicurus,
and others, are put together with our Lord, as guides of conduct. These
inscriptions also contain the Carpocratian tenet of a community of
women. I am unwilling to allude to the Agapæ and Communions of certain
of these sects, which were not surpassed in profligacy by the Pagan
rites of which they were an imitation. The very name of Gnostic became
an expression for the worst impurities, and no one dared eat bread with
them, or use their culinary instruments or plates.


These profligate excesses are found in connexion with the exercise of
magic and astrology.[223:1] The amulets of the Basilidians are still
extant in great numbers, inscribed with symbols, some Christian, some
with figures of Isis, Serapis, and Anubis, represented according to the
gross indecencies of the Egyptian mythology.[223:2] St. Irenæus had
already connected together the two crimes in speaking of the Simonians:
"Their mystical priests," he says, "live in lewdness, and practise
magic, according to the ability of each. They use exorcisms and
incantations; love-potions too, and seductive spells; the virtue of
spirits, and dreams, and all other curious arts, they diligently
observe."[223:3] The Marcosians were especially devoted to these
"curious arts," which are also ascribed to Carpocrates and Apelles.
Marcion and others are reported to have used astrology. Tertullian
speaks generally of the sects of his day: "Infamous are the dealings of
the heretics with sorcerers very many, with mountebanks, with
astrologers, with philosophers, to wit, such as are given to curious
questions. They everywhere remember, 'Seek, and ye shall find.'"[223:4]

Such were the Gnostics; and to external and prejudiced spectators,
whether philosophers, as Celsus and Porphyry, or the multitude, they
wore an appearance sufficiently like the Church to be mistaken for her
in the latter part of the Ante-nicene period, as she was confused with
the Pagan mysteries in the earlier.


Of course it may happen that the common estimate concerning a person or
a body is purely accidental and unfounded; but in such cases it is not
lasting. Such were the calumnies of child-eating and impurity in the
Christian meetings, which were almost extinct by the time of Origen, and
which might arise from the world's confusing them with the pagan and
heretical rites. But when it continues from age to age, it is certainly
an index of a fact, and corresponds to definite qualities in the object
to which it relates. In that case, even mistakes carry information; for
they are cognate to the truth, and we can allow for them. Often what
seems like a mistake is merely the mode in which the informant conveys
his testimony, or the impression which a fact makes on him. Censure is
the natural tone of one man in a case where praise is the natural tone
of another; the very same character or action inspires one mind with
enthusiasm, and another with contempt. What to one man is magnanimity,
to another is romance, and pride to a third, and pretence to a fourth,
while to a fifth it is simply unintelligible; and yet there is a certain
analogy in their separate testimonies, which conveys to us what the
thing is like and what it is not like. When a man's acknowledged note is
superstition, we may be pretty sure we shall not find him an Academic or
an Epicurean; and even words which are ambiguous, as "atheist," or
"reformer," admit of a sure interpretation when we are informed of the
speaker. In like manner, there is a certain general correspondence
between magic and miracle, obstinacy and faith, insubordination and zeal
for religion, sophistry and argumentative talent, craft and meekness, as
is obvious. Let us proceed then in our contemplation of this reflection,
as it may be called of primitive Christianity in the mirror of the


All three writers, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, call it a
"superstition;" this is no accidental imputation, but is repeated by a
variety of subsequent writers and speakers. The charge of Thyestean
banquets scarcely lasts a hundred years; but, while pagan witnesses are
to be found, the Church is accused of superstition. The heathen
disputant in Minucius calls Christianity, "_Vana et demens
superstitio_." The lawyer Modestinus speaks, with an apparent allusion
to Christianity, of "weak minds being terrified _superstitione
numinis_." The heathen magistrate asks St. Marcellus, whether he and
others have put away "vain superstitions," and worship the gods whom the
emperors worship. The Pagans in Arnobius speak of Christianity as "an
execrable and unlucky religion, full of impiety and sacrilege,
contaminating the rites instituted from of old with the superstition of
its novelty." The anonymous opponent of Lactantius calls it, "_Impia et
anilis superstitio_." Diocletian's inscription at Clunia was, as it
declared, on occasion of "the total extinction of the superstition of
the Christians, and the extension of the worship of the gods." Maximin,
in his Letter upon Constantine's Edict, still calls it a


Now what is meant by the word thus attached by a _consensus_ of heathen
authorities to Christianity? At least, it cannot mean a religion in
which a man might think what he pleased, and was set free from all
yokes, whether of ignorance, fear, authority, or priestcraft. When
heathen writers call the Oriental rites superstitions, they evidently
use the word in its modern sense; it cannot surely be doubted that they
apply it in the same sense to Christianity. But Plutarch explains for us
the word at length, in his Treatise which bears the name: "Of all kinds
of fear," he says, "superstition is the most fatal to action and
resource. He does not fear the sea who does not sail, nor war who does
not serve, nor robbers who keeps at home, nor the sycophant who is poor,
nor the envious if he is a private man, nor an earthquake if he lives in
Gaul, nor thunder if he lives in Ethiopia; but he who fears the gods
fears everything, earth, seas, air, sky, darkness, light, noises,
silence, sleep. Slaves sleep and forget their masters; of the fettered
doth sleep lighten the chain; inflamed wounds, ulcers cruel and
agonizing, are not felt by the sleeping. Superstition alone has come to
no terms with sleep; but in the very sleep of her victims, as though
they were in the realms of the impious, she raises horrible spectres,
and monstrous phantoms, and various pains, and whirls the miserable soul
about, and persecutes it. They rise, and, instead of making light of
what is unreal, they fall into the hands of quacks and conjurers, who
say, 'Call the crone to expiate, bathe in the sea, and sit all day on
the ground.'" He goes on to speak of the introduction of "uncouth names
and barbarous terms" into "the divine and national authority of
religion;" observes that, whereas slaves, when they despair of freedom,
may demand to be sold to another master, superstition admits of no
change of gods, since "the god cannot be found whom he will not fear,
who fears the gods of his family and his birth, who shudders at the
Saving and the Benignant, who has a trembling and dread at those from
whom we ask riches and wealth, concord, peace, success of all good words
and deeds." He says, moreover, that, while death is to all men an end of
life, it is not so to the superstitious; for then "there are deep gates
of hell to yawn, and headlong streams of at once fire and gloom are
opened, and darkness with its many phantoms encompasses, ghosts
presenting horrid visages and wretched voices, and judges and
executioners, and chasms and dens full of innumerable miseries."

Presently, he says, that in misfortune or sickness the superstitious man
refuses to see physician or philosopher, and cries, "Suffer me, O man,
to undergo punishment, the impious, the cursed, the hated of gods and
spirits. The Atheist," with whom all along he is contrasting the
superstitious disadvantageously, "wipes his tears, trims his hair, doffs
his mourning; but how can you address, how help the superstitious? He
sits apart in sackcloth or filthy rags; and often he strips himself and
rolls in the mud, and tells out his sins and offences, as having eaten
and drunken something, or walked some way which the divinity did not
allow. . . . And in his best mood, and under the influence of a
good-humoured superstition, he sits at home, with sacrifice and
slaughter all round him, while the old crones hang on him as on a peg,
as Bion says, any charm they fall in with." He continues, "What men like
best are festivals, banquets at the temples, initiations, orgies, votive
prayers, and adorations. But the superstitious wishes indeed, but is
unable to rejoice. He is crowned and turns pale; he sacrifices and is in
fear; he prays with a quivering voice, and burns incense with trembling
hands, and altogether belies the saying of Pythagoras, that we are then
in best case when we go to the gods; for superstitious men are in most
wretched and evil case, approaching the houses or shrines of the gods as
if they were the dens of bears, or the holes of snakes, or the caves of


Here we have a vivid picture of Plutarch's idea of the essence of
Superstition; it was the imagination of the existence of an unseen
ever-present Master; the bondage of a rule of life, of a continual
responsibility; obligation to attend to little things, the
impossibility of escaping from duty, the inability to choose or change
one's religion, an interference with the enjoyment of life, a melancholy
view of the world, sense of sin, horror at guilt, apprehension of
punishment, dread, self-abasement, depression, anxiety and endeavour to
be at peace with heaven, and error and absurdity in the methods chosen
for the purpose. Such too had been the idea of the Epicurean Velleius,
when he shrunk with horror from the "_sempiternus dominus_" and
"_curiosus Deus_" of the Stoics.[228:1] Such, surely, was the meaning of
Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny. And hence of course the frequent reproach
cast on Christians as credulous, weak-minded, and poor-spirited. The
heathen objectors in Minucius and Lactantius speak of their "old-woman's
tales."[228:2] Celsus accuses them of "assenting at random and without
reason," saying, "Do not inquire, but believe." "They lay it down," he
says elsewhere, "Let no educated man approach, no man of wisdom, no man
of sense; but if a man be unlearned, weak in intellect, an infant, let
him come with confidence. Confessing that these are worthy of their God,
they evidently desire, as they are able, to convert none but fools, and
vulgar, and stupid, and slavish, women and boys." They "take in the
simple, and lead him where they will." They address themselves to
"youths, house-servants, and the weak in intellect." They "hurry away
from the educated, as not fit subjects of their imposition, and inveigle
the rustic."[228:3] "Thou," says the heathen magistrate to the Martyr
Fructuosus, "who as a teacher dost disseminate a new fable, that fickle
girls may desert the groves and abandon Jupiter, condemn, if thou art
wise, the anile creed."[229:1]


Hence the epithets of itinerant, mountebank, conjurer, cheat, sophist,
sorcerer, heaped upon the teachers of Christianity; sometimes to account
for the report or apparent truth of their miracles, sometimes to explain
their success. Our Lord was said to have learned His miraculous power in
Egypt; "wizard, mediciner, cheat, rogue, conjurer," were the epithets
applied to Him by the opponents of Eusebius;[229:2] they "worship that
crucified sophist," says Lucian;[229:3] "Paul, who surpasses all the
conjurers and impostors who ever lived," is Julian's account of the
Apostle. "You have sent through the whole world," says St. Justin to
Trypho, "to preach that a certain atheistic and lawless sect has sprung
from one Jesus, a Galilean cheat."[229:4] "We know," says Lucian,
speaking of Chaldeans and Magicians, "the Syrian from Palestine, who is
the sophist in these matters, how many lunatics, with eyes distorted and
mouth in foam, he raises and sends away restored, ridding them from the
evil at a great price."[229:5] "If any conjurer came to them, a man of
skill and knowing how to manage matters," says the same writer, "he made
money in no time, with a broad grin at the simple fellows."[229:6] The
officer who had custody of St. Perpetua feared her escape from prison
"by magical incantations."[229:7] When St. Tiburtius had walked barefoot
on hot coals, his judge cried out that Christ had taught him magic. St.
Anastasia was thrown into prison as a mediciner; the populace called out
against St. Agnes, "Away with the witch," _Tolle magam, tolle

When St. Bonosus and St. Maximilian bore the burning pitch without
shrinking, Jews and Gentiles cried out, _Isti magi et malefici_. "What
new delusion," says the heathen magistrate concerning St. Romanus, "has
brought in these sophists to deny the worship of the gods? How doth this
chief sorcerer mock us, skilled by his Thessalian charm (_carmine_) to
laugh at punishment."[230:1]

Hence we gather the meaning of the word "_carmen_" as used by Pliny;
when he speaks of the Christians "saying with one another a _carmen_ to
Christ as to a god," he meant pretty much what Suetonius expresses by
the "_malefica superstitio_."[230:2] And the words of the last-mentioned
writer and Tacitus are still more exactly, and, I may say, singularly
illustrated by clauses which occur in the Theodosian code; which seem to
show that these historians were using formal terms and phrases to
express their notion of Christianity. For instance, Tacitus says, "_Quos
per flagitia invisos, vulgus Christianos appellabat_;" and the Law
against the Malefici and Mathematici in the Code speaks of those, "_Quos
ob facinorum magnitudinem vulgus maleficos appellat_."[230:3] Again,
Tacitus charges Christians with the "_odium humani generis_:" this is
the very characteristic of a practiser in magic; the Laws call the
Malefici, "_humani generis hostes_," "_humani generis inimici_,"
"_naturæ peregrini_," "_communis salutis hostes_."[230:4]


This also explains the phenomenon, which has created so much surprise to
certain moderns;--that a grave, well-informed historian like Tacitus
should apply to Christians what sounds like abuse. Yet what is the
difficulty, supposing that Christians were considered mathematici and
magi, and these were the secret intriguers against established
government, the allies of desperate politicians, the enemies of the
established religion, the disseminators of lying rumours, the
perpetrators of poisonings and other crimes? "Read this," says Paley,
after quoting some of the most beautiful and subduing passages of St.
Paul, "read this, and then think of _exitiabilis superstitio_;" and he
goes on to express a wish "in contending with heathen authorities, to
produce our books against theirs,"[231:1] as if it were a matter of
books. Public men care very little for books; the finest sentiments, the
most luminous philosophy, the deepest theology, inspiration itself,
moves them but little; they look at facts, and care only for facts. The
question was, What was the worth, what the tendency of the Christian
body in the state? what Christians said, what they thought, was little
to the purpose. They might exhort to peaceableness and passive obedience
as strongly as words could speak; but what did they do, what was their
political position? This is what statesmen thought of then, as they do
now. What had men of the world to do with abstract proofs or first
principles? a statesman measures parties, and sects, and writers by
their bearing upon _him_; and he has a practised eye in this sort of
judgment, and is not likely to be mistaken. "'What is Truth?' said
jesting Pilate." Apologies, however eloquent or true, availed nothing
with the Roman magistrate against the sure instinct which taught him to
dread Christianity. It was a dangerous enemy to any power not built
upon itself; he felt it, and the event justified his apprehension.


We must not forget the well-known character of the Roman state in its
dealings with its subjects. It had had from the first an extreme
jealousy of secret societies; it was prepared to grant a large
toleration and a broad comprehension, but, as is the case with modern
governments, it wished to have jurisdiction and the ultimate authority
in every movement of the body politic and social, and its civil
institutions were based, or essentially depended, on its religion.
Accordingly, every innovation upon the established paganism, except it
was allowed by the law, was rigidly repressed. Hence the professors of
low superstitions, of mysteries, of magic, of astrology, were the
outlaws of society, and were in a condition analogous, if the comparison
may be allowed, to smugglers or poachers among ourselves, or perhaps to
burglars and highwaymen. The modern robber is sometimes made to ask in
novels or essays, why the majority of a people should bind the minority,
and why he is amenable to laws which he does not enact; but the
magistrate, relying on the power of the sword, wishes all men to gain a
living indeed, and to prosper, but only in his own legally sanctioned
ways, and he hangs or transports dissenters from his authority. The
Romans applied this rule to religion. Lardner protests against Pliny's
application of the words "contumacy and inflexible obstinacy" to the
Christians of Pontus. "Indeed, these are hard words," he says, "very
improperly applied to men who were open to conviction, and willing to
satisfy others, if they might have leave to speak."[232:1] And he says,
"It seems to me that Pliny acted very arbitrarily and unrighteously, in
his treatment of the Christians in his province. What right had Pliny to
act in this manner? by what law or laws did he punish [them] with
death?"--but the Romans had ever burnt the sorcerer, and banished his
consulters for life.[233:1] It was an ancient custom. And at mysteries
they looked with especial suspicion, because, since the established
religion did not include them in its provisions, they really did supply
what may be called a demand of the age. The Greeks of an earlier day had
naturalized among themselves the Eleusinian and other mysteries, which
had come from Egypt and Syria, and had little to fear from a fresh
invasion from the same quarter; yet even in Greece, as Plutarch tell us,
the "_carmina_" of the itinerants of Cybele and Serapis threw the
Pythian verses out of fashion, and henceforth the responses from the
temple were given in prose. Soon the oracles altogether ceased. What
would cause in the Roman mind still greater jealousy of Christianity was
the general infidelity which prevailed among all classes as regards the
mythological fables of Charon, Cerberus, and the realms of


We know what opposition had been made in Rome even to the philosophy of
Greece; much greater would be the aversion of constitutional statesmen
and lawyers to the ritual of barbarians. Religion was the Roman point of
honour. "Spaniards might rival them in numbers," says Cicero, "Gauls in
bodily strength, Carthaginians in address, Greeks in the arts, Italians
and Latins in native talent, but the Romans surpassed all nations in
piety and devotion."[234:1] It was one of their laws, "Let no one have
gods by himself, nor worship in private new gods nor adventitious,
unless added on public authority."[234:2] Lutatius,[234:3] at the end of
the first Punic war, was forbidden by the senate to consult the Sortes
Prænestinæ as being "_auspicia alienigena_." Some years afterwards the
Consul took axe in hand, and commenced the destruction of the temples of
Isis and Serapis. In the second Punic war, the senate had commanded the
surrender of the _libri vaticini_ or _precationes_, and any written art
of sacrificing. When a secret confraternity was discovered, at a later
date, the Consul spoke of the rule of their ancestors which forbade the
forum, circus, and city to Sacrificuli and prophets, and burnt their
books. In the next age banishment was inflicted on individuals who were
introducing the worship of the Syrian Sabazius; and in the next the
Iseion and Serapeion were destroyed a second time. Mæcenas in Dio
advises Augustus to honour the gods according to the national custom,
because the contempt of the country's deities leads to civil
insubordination, reception of foreign laws, conspiracies, and secret
meetings.[234:4] "Suffer no one," he adds, "to deny the gods or to
practise sorcery." The civilian Julius Paulus lays it down as one of the
leading principles of Roman Law, that those who introduce new or untried
religions should be degraded, and if in the lower orders put to
death.[234:5] In like manner, it is enacted in one of Constantine's Laws
that the Haruspices should not exercise their art in private; and there
is a law of Valentinian's against nocturnal sacrifices or magic. It is
more immediately to our purpose that Trajan had been so earnest in his
resistance to _Hetæriæ_ or secret societies, that, when a fire had laid
waste Nicomedia, and Pliny proposed to him to incorporate a body of a
hundred and fifty firemen in consequence,[235:1] he was afraid of the
precedent and forbade it.


What has been said will suggest another point of view in which the
Oriental rites were obnoxious to the government, viz., as being vagrant
and proselytizing religions. If it tolerated foreign superstitions, this
would be on the ground that districts or countries within its
jurisdiction held them; to proselytize to a rite hitherto unknown, to
form a new party, and to propagate it through the Empire,--a religion
not local but Catholic,--was an offence against both order and reason.
The state desired peace everywhere, and no change; "considering,"
according to Lactantius, "that they were rightly and deservedly punished
who execrated the public religion handed down to them by their

It is impossible surely to deny that, in assembling for religious
purposes, the Christians were breaking a solemn law, a vital principle
of the Roman constitution; and this is the light in which their conduct
was regarded by the historians and philosophers of the Empire. This was
a very strong act on the part of the disciples of the great Apostle, who
had enjoined obedience to the powers that be. Time after time they
resisted the authority of the magistrate; and this is a phenomenon
inexplicable on the theory of Private Judgment or of the Voluntary
Principle. The justification of such disobedience lies simply in the
necessity of obeying the higher authority of some divine law; but if
Christianity were in its essence only private and personal, as so many
now think, there was no necessity of their meeting together at all. If,
on the other hand, in assembling for worship and holy communion, they
were fulfilling an indispensable observance, Christianity has imposed a
social law on the world, and formally enters the field of politics.
Gibbon says that, in consequence of Pliny's edict, "the prudence of the
Christians suspended their Agapæ; but it was _impossible_ for them to
omit the exercise of public worship."[236:1] We can draw no other


At the end of three hundred years, a more remarkable violation of law
seems to have been admitted by the Christian body. It shall be given in
the words of Dr. Burton; he has been speaking of Maximin's edict, which
provided for the restitution of any of their lands or buildings which
had been alienated from them. "It is plain," he says, "from the terms of
this edict, that the Christians had for some time been in possession of
property. It speaks of houses and lands which did not belong to
individuals, but to the whole body. Their possession of such property
could hardly have escaped the notice of the government; but it seems to
have been held in direct violation of a law of Diocletian, which
prohibited corporate bodies, or associations which were not legally
recognized, from acquiring property. The Christians were certainly not a
body recognized by law at the beginning of the reign of Diocletian, and
it might almost be thought that this enactment was specially directed
against them. But, like other laws which are founded upon tyranny, and
are at variance with the first principles of justice, it is probable
that this law about corporate property was evaded. We must suppose that
the Christians had purchased lands and houses before the law was passed;
and their disregard of the prohibition may be taken as another proof
that their religion had now taken so firm a footing that the executors
of the laws were obliged to connive at their being broken by so numerous
a body."[237:1]


No wonder that the magistrate who presided at the martyrdom of St.
Romanus calls them in Prudentius "a rebel people;"[237:2] that Galerius
speaks of them as "a nefarious conspiracy;" the heathen in Minucius, as
"men of a desperate faction;" that others make them guilty of sacrilege
and treason, and call them by those other titles which, more closely
resembling the language of Tacitus, have been noticed above. Hence the
violent accusations against them as the destruction of the Empire, the
authors of physical evils, and the cause of the anger of the gods.

"Men cry out," says Tertullian, "that the state is beset, that the
Christians are in their fields, in their forts, in their islands. They
mourn as for a loss that every sex, condition, and now even rank, is
going over to this sect. And yet they do not by this very means advance
their minds to the idea of some good therein hidden; they allow not
themselves to conjecture more rightly, they choose not to examine more
closely. The generality run upon a hatred of this name, with eyes so
closed that in bearing favourable testimony to any one they mingle with
it the reproach of the name. 'A good man Caius Seius, only he is a
Christian.' So another, 'I marvel that that wise man Lucius Titius hath
suddenly become a Christian.' No one reflecteth whether Caius be not
therefore good and Lucius wise because a Christian, or therefore a
Christian because wise and good. They praise that which they know, they
revile that which they know not. Virtue is not in such account as hatred
of the Christians. Now, then, if the hatred be of the name, what guilt
is there in names? What charge against words? Unless it be that any word
which is a name have either a barbarous or ill-omened, or a scurrilous
or an immodest sound. If the Tiber cometh up to the walls, if the Nile
cometh not up to the fields, if the heaven hath stood still, if the
earth hath been moved, if there be any famine, if any pestilence, 'The
Christians to the lions' is forthwith the word."[238:1]


"Men of a desperate, lawless, reckless faction," says the heathen
Cæcilius, in the passage above referred to, "who collect together out of
the lowest rabble the thoughtless portion, and credulous women seduced
by the weakness of their sex, and form a mob of impure conspirators, of
whom nocturnal assemblies, and solemn fastings, and unnatural food, no
sacred rite but pollution, is the bond. A tribe lurking and
light-hating, dumb for the public, talkative in corners, they despise
our temples as if graves, spit at our gods, deride our religious forms;
pitiable themselves, they pity, forsooth, our priests; half-naked
themselves, they despise our honours and purple; monstrous folly and
incredible impudence! . . . Day after day, their abandoned morals wind
their serpentine course; over the whole world are those most hideous
rites of an impious association growing into shape: . . . they recognize
each other by marks and signs, and love each other almost before they
recognize; promiscuous lust is their religion. Thus does their vain and
mad superstition glory in crimes. . . The writer who tells the story of a
criminal capitally punished, and of the gibbet (_ligna feralia_) of the
cross being their observance (_ceremonias_), assigns to them thereby an
altar in keeping with the abandoned and wicked, that they may worship
(_colant_) what they merit. . . . Why their mighty effort to hide and
shroud whatever it is they worship (_colunt_), since things honest ever
like the open day, and crimes are secret? Why have they no altars, no
temples, no images known to us, never speak abroad, never assemble
freely, were it not that what they worship and suppress is subject
either of punishment or of shame? . . What monstrous, what portentous
notions do they fabricate! that that God of theirs, whom they can
neither show nor see, should be inquiring diligently into the
characters, the acts, nay the words and secret thoughts of all men;
running to and fro, forsooth, and present everywhere, troublesome,
restless, nay impudently curious they would have him; that is, if he is
close at every deed, interferes in all places, while he can neither
attend to each as being distracted through the whole, nor suffice for
the whole as being engaged about each. Think too of their threatening
fire, meditating destruction to the whole earth, nay the world itself
with its stars! . . . Nor content with this mad opinion, they add and
append their old wives' tales about a new birth after death, ashes and
cinders, and by some strange confidence believe each other's lies. Poor
creatures! consider what hangs over you after death, while you are still
alive. Lo, the greater part of you, the better, as you say, are in want,
cold, toil, hunger, and your God suffers it; but I omit common trials.
Lo, threats are offered to you, punishments, torments; crosses to be
undergone now, not worshipped (_adorandæ_); fires too which ye predict
and fear; where is that God who can recover, but cannot preserve your
life? The answer of Socrates, when he was asked about heavenly matters,
is well known, 'What is above us does not concern us.' My opinion also
is, that points which are doubtful, as are the points in question, must
be left; nor, when so many and such great men are in controversy on the
subject, must judgment be rashly and audaciously given on either side,
lest the consequence be either anile superstition or the overthrow of
all religion."


Such was Christianity in the eyes of those who witnessed its rise and
propagation;--one of a number of wild and barbarous rites which were
pouring in upon the Empire from the ancient realms of superstition, and
the mother of a progeny of sects which were faithful to the original
they had derived from Egypt or Syria; a religion unworthy of an educated
person, as appealing, not to the intellect, but to the fears and
weaknesses of human nature, and consisting, not in the rational and
cheerful enjoyment, but in a morose rejection of the gifts of
Providence; a horrible religion, as inflicting or enjoining cruel
sufferings, and monstrous and loathsome in its very indulgence of the
passions; a religion leading by reaction to infidelity; a religion of
magic, and of the vulgar arts, real and pretended, with which magic was
accompanied; a secret religion which dared not face the day; an
itinerant, busy, proselytizing religion, forming an extended confederacy
against the state, resisting its authority and breaking its laws. There
may be some exceptions to this general impression, such as Pliny's
discovery of the innocent and virtuous rule of life adopted by the
Christians of Pontus; but this only proves that Christianity was not in
fact the infamous religion which the heathen thought it; it did not
reverse their general belief to that effect.


Now it must be granted that, in some respects, this view of Christianity
depended on the times, and would alter with their alteration. When there
was no persecution, Martyrs could not be obstinate; and when the Church
was raised aloft in high places, it was no longer in caves. Still, I
believe, it continued substantially the same in the judgment of the
world external to it, while there was an external world to judge of it.
"They thought it enough," says Julian in the fourth century, of our Lord
and His Apostles, "to deceive women, servants, and slaves, and by their
means wives and husbands." "A human fabrication," says he elsewhere,
"put together by wickedness, having nothing divine in it, but making a
perverted use of the fable-loving, childish, irrational part of the
soul, and offering a set of wonders to create belief." "Miserable men,"
he says elsewhere, "you refuse to worship the ancile, yet you worship
the wood of the cross, and sign it on your foreheads, and fix it on your
doors. Shall one for this hate the intelligent among you, or pity the
less understanding, who in following you have gone to such an excess of
perdition as to leave the everlasting gods and go over to a dead Jew?"
He speaks of their adding other dead men to Him who died so long ago.
"You have filled all places with sepulchres and monuments, though it is
nowhere told you in your religion to haunt the tombs and to attend upon
them." Elsewhere he speaks of their "leaving the gods for corpses and
relics." On the other hand, he attributes the growth of Christianity to
its humanity towards strangers, care in burying the dead, and pretended
religiousness of life. In another place he speaks of their care of the

Libanius, Julian's preceptor in rhetoric, delivers the same testimony,
as far as it goes. He addressed his Oration for the Temples to a
Christian Emperor, and would in consequence be guarded in his language;
however it runs in one direction. He speaks of "those black-habited
men," meaning the monks, "who eat more than elephants, and by the
number of their potations trouble those who send them drink in their
chantings, and conceal this by paleness artificially acquired." They
"are in good condition out of the misfortunes of others, while they
pretend to serve God by hunger." Those whom they attack "are like bees,
they like drones." I do not quote this passage to prove that there were
monks in Libanius's days, which no one doubts, but to show his
impression of Christianity, as far as his works betray it.

Numantian, in the same century, describes in verse his voyage from Rome
to Gaul: one book of the poem is extant; he falls in with Christianity
on two of the islands which lie in his course. He thus describes them as
found on one of these: "The island is in a squalid state, being full of
light-haters. They call themselves monks, because they wish to live
alone without witness. They dread the gifts, from fearing the reverses,
of fortune. Thus Homer says that melancholy was the cause of
Bellerophon's anxiety; for it is said that after the wounds of grief
mankind displeased the offended youth." He meets on the other island a
Christian, whom he had known, of good family and fortune, and happy in
his marriage, who "impelled by the Furies had left men and gods, and,
credulous exile, was living in base concealment. Is not this herd," he
continues, "worse than Circean poison? then bodies were changed, now


In the Philopatris, which is the work of an Author of the fourth
century,[242:1] Critias is introduced pale and wild. His friend asks him
if he has seen Cerberus or Hecate; and he answers that he has heard a
rigmarole from certain "thrice-cursed sophists;" which he thinks would
drive him mad, if he heard it again, and was nearly sending him
headlong over some cliff as it was. He retires for relief with his
inquirer to a pleasant place, shadowed by planes, where swallows and
nightingales are singing, and a quiet brook is purling. Triephon, his
friend, expresses a fear lest he has heard some incantation, and is led
by the course of the dialogue, before his friend tells his tale, to give
some account of Christianity, being himself a Christian. After speaking
of the creation, as described by Moses, he falls at once upon that
doctrine of a particular providence which is so distasteful to Plutarch,
Velleius in Cicero, and Cæcilius, and generally to unbelievers. "He is
in heaven," he says, "looking at just and unjust, and causing actions to
be entered in books; and He will recompense all on a day which He has
appointed." Critias objects that he cannot make this consistent with the
received doctrine about the Fates, "even though he has perhaps been
carried aloft with his master, and initiated in unspeakable mysteries."
He also asks if the deeds of the Scythians are written in heaven; for if
so, there must be many scribes there. After some more words, in course
of which, as in the earlier part of the dialogue, the doctrine of the
Holy Trinity is introduced, Critias gives an account of what befell him.
He says, he fell in with a crowd in the streets; and, while asking a
friend the cause of it, others joined them (Christians or monks), and a
conversation ensues, part of it corrupt or obscure, on the subject, as
Gesner supposes, of Julian's oppression of the Christians, especially of
the clergy. One of these interlocutors is a wretched old man, whose
"phlegm is paler than death;" another has "a rotten cloke on, and no
covering on head or feet," who says he has been told by some ill-clad
person from the mountains, with a shorn crown, that in the theatre was a
name hieroglyphically written of one who would flood the highway with
gold. On his laughing at the story, his friend Crato, whom he had
joined, bids him be silent, using a Pythagorean word; for he has "most
excellent matters to initiate him into, and that the prediction is no
dream but true," and will be fulfilled in August, using the Egyptian
name of the month. He attempts to leave them in disgust, but Crato pulls
him back "at the instigation of that old demon." He is in consequence
persuaded to go "to those conjurers," who, says Crato, would "initiate
in all mysteries." He finds, in a building which is described in the
language used by Homer of the Palace of Menelaus, "not Helen, no, but
men pale and downcast," who ask, whether there was any bad news; "for
they seemed," he says, "wishing the worst; and rejoicing in misfortune,
as the Furies in the theatres." On their asking him how the city and the
world went on, and his answering that things went on smoothly and seemed
likely to do so still, they frown, and say that "the city is in travail
with a bad birth." "You, who dwell aloft," he answers, "and see
everything from on high, doubtless have a keen perception in this
matter; but tell me, how is the sky? will the Sun be eclipsed? will Mars
be in quadrature with Jupiter? &c.;" and he goes on to jest upon their
celibacy. On their persisting in prophesying evil to the state, he says,
"This evil will fall on your own head, since you are so hard upon your
country; for not as high-flyers have ye heard this, nor are ye adepts in
the restless astrological art, but if divinations and conjurings have
seduced you, double is your stupidity; for they are the discoveries of
old women and things to laugh at." The interview then draws to an end;
but more than enough has been quoted already to show the author's notion
of Christianity.


Such was the language of paganism after Christianity had for fifty years
been exposed to the public gaze; after it had been before the world for
fifty more, St. Augustine had still to defend it against the charge of
being the cause of the calamities of the Empire. And for the charge of
magic, when the Arian bishops were in formal disputations with the
Catholic, before Gungebald, Burgundian King of France, at the end of the
fifth century, we find still that they charged the Catholics with being
"_præstigiatores_," and worshipping a number of gods; and when the
Catholics proposed that the king should repair to the shrine of St.
Justus, where both parties might ask him concerning their respective
faiths, the Arians cried out that "they would not seek enchantments like
Saul, for Scripture was enough for them, which was more powerful than
all bewitchments."[245:1] This was said, not against strangers of whom
they knew nothing, as Ethelbert might be suspicious of St. Augustine and
his brother missionaries, but against a body of men who lived among

I do not think it can be doubted then that, had Tacitus, Suetonius, and
Pliny, Celsus, Prophyry, and the other opponents of Christianity, lived
in the fourth century, their evidence concerning Christianity would be
very much the same as it has come down to us from the centuries before
it. In either case, a man of the world and a philosopher would have been
disgusted at the gloom and sadness of its profession, its
mysteriousness, its claim of miracles, the want of good sense imputable
to its rule of life, and the unsettlement and discord it was introducing
into the social and political world.


On the whole then I conclude as follows:--if there is a form of
Christianity now in the world which is accused of gross superstition, of
borrowing its rites and customs from the heathen, and of ascribing to
forms and ceremonies an occult virtue;--a religion which is considered
to burden and enslave the mind by its requisitions, to address itself to
the weak-minded and ignorant, to be supported by sophistry and
imposture, and to contradict reason and exalt mere irrational faith;--a
religion which impresses on the serious mind very distressing views of
the guilt and consequences of sin, sets upon the minute acts of the day,
one by one, their definite value for praise or blame, and thus casts a
grave shadow over the future;--a religion which holds up to admiration
the surrender of wealth, and disables serious persons from enjoying it
if they would;--a religion, the doctrines of which, be they good or bad,
are to the generality of men unknown; which is considered to bear on its
very surface signs of folly and falsehood so distinct that a glance
suffices to judge of it, and that careful examination is preposterous;
which is felt to be so simply bad, that it may be calumniated at hazard
and at pleasure, it being nothing but absurdity to stand upon the
accurate distribution of its guilt among its particular acts, or
painfully to determine how far this or that story concerning it is
literally true, or what has to be allowed in candour, or what is
improbable, or what cuts two ways, or what is not proved, or what may be
plausibly defended;--a religion such, that men look at a convert to it
with a feeling which no other denomination raises except Judaism,
Socialism, or Mormonism, viz. with curiosity, suspicion, fear, disgust,
as the case may be, as if something strange had befallen him, as if he
had had an initiation into a mystery, and had come into communion with
dreadful influences, as if he were now one of a confederacy which
claimed him, absorbed him, stripped him of his personality, reduced him
to a mere organ or instrument of a whole;--a religion which men hate as
proselytizing, anti-social, revolutionary, as dividing families,
separating chief friends, corrupting the maxims of government, making a
mock at law, dissolving the empire, the enemy of human nature, and a
"conspirator against its rights and privileges;"[247:1]--a religion
which they consider the champion and instrument of darkness, and a
pollution calling down upon the land the anger of heaven;--a religion
which they associate with intrigue and conspiracy, which they speak
about in whispers, which they detect by anticipation in whatever goes
wrong, and to which they impute whatever is unaccountable;--a religion,
the very name of which they cast out as evil, and use simply as a bad
epithet, and which from the impulse of self-preservation they would
persecute if they could;--if there be such a religion now; in the world,
it is not unlike Christianity as that same world viewed it, when first
it came forth from its Divine Author.[247:2]



Till the Imperial Government had become Christian, and heresies were put
down by the arm of power, the face of Christendom presented much the
same appearance all along as on the first propagation of the religion.
What Gnosticism, Montanism, Judaism and, I may add, the Oriental
mysteries were to the nascent Church, as described in the foregoing
Section, such were the Manichean, Donatist, Apollinarian and
contemporary sects afterwards. The Church in each place looked at first
sight as but one out of a number of religious communions, with little of
a very distinctive character except to the careful inquirer. Still there
were external indications of essential differences within; and, as we
have already compared it in the first centuries, we may now contrast it
in the fourth, with the rival religious bodies with which it was


How was the man to guide his course who wished to join himself to the
doctrine and fellowship of the Apostles in the times of St. Athanasius,
St. Basil, and St. Augustine? Few indeed were the districts in the
_orbis terrarum_, which did not then, as in the Ante-nicene era, present
a number of creeds and communions for his choice. Gaul indeed is said at
that era to have been perfectly free from heresies; at least none are
mentioned as belonging to that country in the Theodosian Code. But in
Egypt, in the early part of the fourth century, the Meletian schism
numbered one-third as many bishops as were contained in the whole
Patriarchate. In Africa, towards the end of it, while the Catholic
Bishops amounted in all to 466, the Donatists rivalled them with as many
as 400. In Spain Priscillianism was spread from the Pyrenees to the
Ocean. It seems to have been the religion of the population in the
province of Gallicia, while its author Priscillian, whose death had been
contrived by the Ithacians, was honoured as a Martyr. The Manichees,
hiding themselves under a variety of names in different localities, were
not in the least flourishing condition at Rome. Rome and Italy were the
seat of the Marcionites. The Origenists, too, are mentioned by St.
Jerome as "bringing a cargo of blasphemies into the port of Rome." And
Rome was the seat of a Novatian, a Donatist, and a Luciferian bishop, in
addition to the legitimate occupant of the See of St. Peter. The
Luciferians, as was natural under the circumstances of their schism,
were sprinkled over Christendom from Spain to Palestine, and from Treves
to Lybia; while in its parent country Sardinia, as a centre of that
extended range, Lucifer seems to have received the honours of a Saint.

When St. Gregory Nazianzen began to preach at Constantinople, the Arians
were in possession of its hundred churches; they had the populace in
their favour, and, after their legal dislodgment, edict after edict was
ineffectually issued against them. The Novatians too abounded there; and
the Sabbatians, who had separated from them, had a church, where they
prayed at the tomb of their founder. Moreover, Apollinarians, Eunomians,
and Semi-arians, mustered in great numbers at Constantinople. The
Semi-arian bishops were as popular in the neighbouring provinces, as the
Arian doctrine in the capital. They had possession of the coast of the
Hellespont and Bithynia; and were found in Phrygia, Isauria, and the
neighbouring parts of Asia Minor. Phrygia was the headquarters of the
Montanists, and was overrun by the Messalians, who had advanced thus far
from Mesopotamia, spreading through Syria, Lycaonia, Pamphylia, and
Cappadocia in their way. In the lesser Armenia, the same heretics had
penetrated into the monasteries. Phrygia, too, and Paphlagonia were the
seat of the Novatians, who besides were in force at Nicæa and Nicomedia,
were found in Alexandria, Africa, and Spain, and had a bishop even in
Scythia. The whole tract of country from the Hellespont to Cilicia had
nearly lapsed into Eunomianism, and the tract from Cilicia as far as
Phœnicia into Apollinarianism. The disorders of the Church of Antioch
are well known: an Arian succession, two orthodox claimants, and a
bishop of the Apollinarians. Palestine abounded in Origenists, if at
that time they may properly be called a sect; Palestine, Egypt, and
Arabia were overrun with Marcionites; Osrhoene was occupied by the
followers of Bardesanes and Harmonius, whose hymns so nearly took the
place of national tunes that St. Ephrem found no better way of resisting
the heresy than setting them to fresh words. Theodoret in Comagene
speaks in the next century of reclaiming eight villages of Marcionites,
one of Eunomians, and one of Arians.


These sects were of very various character. Learning, eloquence, and
talent were the characteristics of the Apollinarians, Manichees, and
Pelagians; Tichonius the Donatist was distinguished in Biblical
interpretation; the Semi-arian and Apollinarian leaders were men of
grave and correct behaviour; the Novatians had sided with the Orthodox
during the Arian persecution; the Montanists and Messalians addressed
themselves to an almost heathen population; the atrocious fanaticism of
the Priscillianists, the fury of the Arian women of Alexandria and
Constantinople, and the savage cruelty of the Circumcellions can hardly
be exaggerated. These various sectaries had their orders of clergy,
bishops, priests and deacons; their readers and ministers; their
celebrants and altars; their hymns and litanies. They preached to the
crowds in public, and their meeting-houses bore the semblance of
churches. They had their sacristies and cemeteries; their farms; their
professors and doctors; their schools. Miracles were ascribed to the
Arian Theophilus, to the Luciferian Gregory of Elvira, to a Macedonian
in Cyzicus, and to the Donatists in Africa.


How was an individual inquirer to find, or a private Christian to keep
the Truth, amid so many rival teachers? The misfortunes or perils of
holy men and saints show us the difficulty; St. Augustine was nine years
a Manichee; St. Basil for a time was in admiration of the Semi-arians;
St. Sulpicius gave a momentary countenance to the Pelagians; St. Paula
listened, and Melania assented, to the Origenists. Yet the rule was
simple, which would direct every one right; and in that age, at least,
no one could be wrong for any long time without his own fault. The
Church is everywhere, but it is one; sects are everywhere, but they are
many, independent and discordant. Catholicity is the attribute of the
Church, independency of sectaries. It is true that some sects might seem
almost Catholic in their diffusion; Novatians or Marcionites were in all
quarters of the empire; yet it is hardly more than the name, or the
general doctrine or philosophy, that was universal: the different
portions which professed it seem to have been bound together by no
strict or definite tie. The Church might be evanescent or lost for a
while in particular countries, or it might be levelled and buried among
sects, when the eye was confined to one spot, or it might be confronted
by the one and same heresy in various places; but, on looking round the
_orbis terrarum_, there was no mistaking that body which, and which
alone, had possession of it. The Church is a kingdom; a heresy is a
family rather than a kingdom; and as a family continually divides and
sends out branches, founding new houses, and propagating itself in
colonies, each of them as independent as its original head, so was it
with heresy. Simon Magus, the first heretic, had been Patriarch of
Menandrians, Basilidians, Valentinians, and the whole family of
Gnostics; Tatian of Encratites, Severians, Aquarians, Apotactites, and
Saccophori. The Montanists had been propagated into Tascodrugites,
Pepuzians, Artotyrites, and Quartodecimans. Eutyches, in a later time,
gave birth to the Dioscorians, Gaianites, Theodosians, Agnoetæ,
Theopaschites, Acephali, Semidalitæ, Nagranitæ, Jacobites, and others.
This is the uniform history of heresy. The patronage of the civil power
might for a time counteract the law of its nature, but it showed it as
soon as that obstacle was removed. Scarcely was Arianism deprived of the
churches of Constantinople, and left to itself, than it split in that
very city into the Dorotheans, the Psathyrians, and the Curtians; and
the Eunomians into the Theophronians and Eutychians. One fourth part of
the Donatists speedily became Maximinianists; and besides these were the
Rogatians, the Primianists, the Urbanists, and the Claudianists. If such
was the fecundity of the heretical principle in one place, it is not to
be supposed that Novatians or Marcionites in Africa or the East would
feel themselves bound to think or to act with their fellow-sectaries of
Rome or Constantinople; and the great varieties or inconsistencies of
statement, which have come down to us concerning the tenets of heresies,
may thus be explained. This had been the case with the pagan rites,
whether indigenous or itinerant, to which heresy succeeded. The
established priesthoods were local properties, as independent
theologically as they were geographically of each other; the fanatical
companies which spread over the Empire dissolved and formed again as the
circumstances of the moment occasioned. So was it with heresy: it was,
by its very nature, its own master, free to change, self-sufficient;
and, having thrown off the yoke of the Church, it was little likely to
submit to any usurped and spurious authority. Montanism and Manicheeism
might perhaps in some sort furnish an exception to this remark.


In one point alone the heresies seem universally to have agreed,--in
hatred to the Church. This might at that time be considered one of her
surest and most obvious Notes. She was that body of which all sects,
however divided among themselves, spoke ill; according to the prophecy,
"If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more
them of His household." They disliked and they feared her; they did
their utmost to overcome their mutual differences, in order to unite
against her. Their utmost indeed was little, for independency was the
law of their being; they could not exert themselves without fresh
quarrels, both in the bosom of each, and one with another. "_Bellum
hæreticorum pax est ecclesiæ_" had become a proverb; but they felt the
great desirableness of union against the only body which was the natural
antagonist of all, and various are the instances which occur in
ecclesiastical history of attempted coalitions. The Meletians of Africa
united with the Arians against St. Athanasius; the Semi-Arians of the
Council of Sardica corresponded with the Donatists of Africa; Nestorius
received and protected the Pelagians; Aspar, the Arian minister of Leo
the Emperor, favoured the Monophysites of Egypt; the Jacobites of Egypt
sided with the Moslem, who are charged with holding a Nestorian
doctrine. It had been so from the beginning: "They huddle up a peace
with all everywhere," says Tertullian, "for it maketh no matter to them,
although they hold different doctrines, so long as they conspire
together in their siege against the one thing, Truth."[254:1] And even
though active co-operation was impracticable, at least hard words cost
nothing, and could express that common hatred at all seasons.
Accordingly, by Montanists, Catholics were called "the carnal;" by
Novatians, "the apostates;" by Valentinians, "the worldly;" by
Manichees, "the simple;" by Aërians, "the ancient;"[254:2] by
Apollinarians, "the man-worshippers;" by Origenists, "the flesh-lovers,"
and "the slimy;" by the Nestorians, "Egyptians;" by Monophysites, the
"Chalcedonians:" by Donatists, "the traitors," and "the sinners," and
"servants of Antichrist;" and St. Peter's chair, "the seat of
pestilence;" and by the Luciferians, the Church was called "a brothel,"
"the devil's harlot," and "synagogue of Satan:" so that it might be
called a Note of the Church, as I have said, for the use of the most
busy and the most ignorant, that she was on one side and all other
bodies on the other.


Yet, strange as it may appear, there was one title of the Church of a
very different nature from those which have been enumerated,--a title of
honour, which all men agreed to give her,--and one which furnished a
still more simple direction than such epithets of abuse to aid the busy
and the ignorant in finding her, and which was used by the Fathers for
that purpose. It was one which the sects could neither claim for
themselves, nor hinder being enjoyed by its rightful owner, though,
since it was the characteristic designation of the Church in the Creed,
it seemed to surrender the whole controversy between the two parties
engaged in it. Balaam could not keep from blessing the ancient people of
God; and the whole world, heresies inclusive, were irresistibly
constrained to call God's second election by its prophetical title of
the "Catholic" Church. St. Paul tells us that the heretic is "condemned
by himself;" and no clearer witness against the sects of the earlier
centuries was needed by the Church, than their own testimony to this
contrast between her actual position and their own. Sects, say the
Fathers, are called after the name of their founders, or from their
locality, or from their doctrine. So was it from the beginning: "I am of
Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas;" but it was promised to the
Church that she should have no master upon earth, and that she should
"gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad."
Her every-day name, which was understood in the marketplace and used in
the palace, which every chance comer knew, and which state-edicts
recognized, was the "Catholic" Church. This was that very description of
Christianity in those times which we are all along engaged in
determining. And it had been recognized as such from the first; the name
or the fact is put forth by St. Ignatius, St. Justin, St. Clement; by
the Church of Smyrna, St. Irenæus, Rhodon or another, Tertullian,
Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Cornelius; by the Martyrs, Pionius, Sabina, and
Asclepiades; by Lactantius, Eusebius, Adimantius, St. Athanasius, St.
Pacian, St. Optatus, St. Epiphanius, St. Cyril, St. Basil, St. Ambrose,
St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and Facundus. St. Clement
uses it as an argument against the Gnostics, St. Augustine against the
Donatists and Manichees, St. Jerome against the Luciferians, and St.
Pacian against the Novatians.


It was an argument for educated and simple. When St. Ambrose would
convert the cultivated reason of Augustine, he bade him study the book
of Isaiah, who is the prophet, as of the Messiah, so of the calling of
the Gentiles and of the Imperial power of the Church. And when St. Cyril
would give a rule to his crowd of Catechumens, "If ever thou art
sojourning in any city," he says, "inquire not simply where the Lord's
house is, (for the sects of the profane also make an attempt to call
their own dens houses of the Lord,) nor merely where the Church is, but
where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy
Body, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus
Christ."[256:1] "In the Catholic Church," says St. Augustine to the
Manichees, "not to speak of that most pure wisdom, to the knowledge of
which few spiritual men attain in this life so as to know it even in its
least measure,--as men, indeed, yet, without any doubt,--(for the
multitude of Christians are safest, not in understanding with quickness,
but in believing with simplicity,) not to speak of this wisdom, which ye
do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other
considerations which most sufficiently hold me in her bosom. I am held
by the consent of people and nations; by that authority which began in
miracles, was nourished in hope, was increased by charity, and made
steadfast by age; by that succession of priests from the chair of the
Apostle Peter, to whose feeding the Lord after His resurrection
commended His sheep, even to the present episcopate; lastly, by the very
title of Catholic, which, not without cause, hath this Church alone,
amid so many heresies, obtained in such sort, that, whereas all
heretics wish to be called Catholics, nevertheless to any stranger, who
asked where to find the 'Catholic' Church, none of them would dare to
point to his own basilica or home. These dearest bonds, then, of the
Christian Name, so many and such, rightly hold a man in belief in the
Catholic Church, even though, by reason of the slowness of our
understanding or our deserts, truth doth not yet show herself in her
clearest tokens. But among you, who have none of these reasons to invite
and detain me, I hear but the loud sound of a promise of the truth;
which truth, verily, if it be so manifestly displayed among you that
there can be no mistake about it, is to be preferred to all those things
by which I am held in the Catholic Church; but if it is promised alone,
and not exhibited, no one shall move me from that faith which by so many
and great ties binds my mind to the Christian religion."[257:1] When
Adimantius asked his Marcionite opponent, how he was a Christian who did
not even bear that name, but was called from Marcion, he retorts, "And
you are called from the Catholic Church, therefore ye are not Christians
either;" Adimantius answers, "Did we profess man's name, you would have
spoken to the point; but if we are called from being all over the world,
what is there bad in this?"[257:2]


"Whereas there is one God and one Lord," says St. Clement, "therefore
also that which is the highest in esteem is praised on the score of
being sole, as after the pattern of the One Principle. In the nature
then of the One, the Church, which is one, hath its portion, which they
would forcibly cut up into many heresies. In substance then, and in
idea, and in first principle, and in pre-eminence, we call the ancient
Catholic Church sole; in order to the unity of one faith, the faith
according to her own covenants, or rather that one covenant in different
times, which, by the will of one God and through one Lord, is gathering
together those who are already ordained, whom God hath predestined,
having known that they would be just from the foundation of the
world. . . . . But of heresies, some are called from a man's name, as
Valentine's heresy, Marcion's, and that of Basilides (though they
profess to bring the opinion of Matthias, for all the Apostles had, as
one teaching, so one tradition); and others from place, as the Peratici;
and others from nation, as that of the Phrygians; and others from their
actions, as that of the Encratites; and others from their peculiar
doctrines, as the Docetæ and Hematites; and others from their
hypotheses, and what they have honoured, as Cainites and the Ophites;
and others from their wicked conduct and enormities, as those Simonians
who are called Eutychites."[258:1] "There are, and there have been,"
says St. Justin, "many who have taught atheistic and blasphemous words
and deeds, coming in the name of Jesus; and they are called by us from
the appellation of the men whence each doctrine and opinion began . . .
Some are called Marcians, others Valentinians, others Basilidians,
others Saturnilians."[258:2] "When men are called Phrygians, or
Novatians, or Valentinians, or Marcionites, or Anthropians," says
Lactantius, "or by any other name, they cease to be Christians; for they
have lost Christ's Name, and clothe themselves in human and foreign
titles. It is the Catholic Church alone which retains the true
worship."[258:3] "We never heard of Petrines, or Paulines, or
Bartholomeans, or Thaddeans," says St. Epiphanius; "but from the first
there was one preaching of all the Apostles, not preaching themselves,
but Christ Jesus the Lord. Wherefore also all gave one name to the
Church, not their own, but that of their Lord Jesus Christ, since they
began to be called Christians first at Antioch; which is the Sole
Catholic Church, having nought else but Christ's, being a Church of
Christians; not of Christs, but of Christians, He being One, they from
that One being called Christians. None, but this Church and her
preachers, are of this character, as is shown by their own epithets,
Manicheans, and Simonians, and Valentinians, and Ebionites."[259:1] "If
you ever hear those who are said to belong to Christ," says St. Jerome,
"named, not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from some other, say
Marcionites, Valentinians, Mountaineers, Campestrians, know that it is
not Christ's Church, but the synagogue of Antichrist."[259:2]


St. Pacian's letters to the Novatian Bishop Sympronian require a more
extended notice. The latter had required the Catholic faith to be proved
to him, without distinctly stating from what portion of it he dissented;
and he boasted that he had never found any one to convince him of its
truth. St. Pacian observes that there is one point which Sympronian
cannot dispute, and which settles the question, the very name Catholic.
He then supposes Sympronian to object that, "under the Apostles no one
was called Catholic." He answers, "Be it thus;[259:3] it shall have been
so; allow even that. When, after the Apostles, heresies had burst forth,
and were striving under various names to tear piecemeal and divide 'the
Dove' and 'the Queen' of God, did not the Apostolic people require a
name of their own, whereby to mark the unity of the people that was
uncorrupted, lest the error of some should rend limb by limb 'the
undefiled virgin' of God? Was it not seemly that the chief head should
be distinguished by its own peculiar appellation? Suppose this very day
I entered a populous city. When I had found Marcionites, Apollinarians,
Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the kind, who call themselves
Christians, by what name should I recognize the congregation of my own
people, unless it were named Catholic? . . . . Whence was it delivered
to me? Certainly that which has stood through so many ages was not
borrowed from man. This name 'Catholic' sounds not of Marcion, nor of
Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics for its authors."

In his second letter, he continues, "Certainly that was no accessory
name which endured through so many ages. And, indeed, I am glad for
thee, that, although thou mayest have preferred others, yet thou agreest
that the name attaches to us, which should you deny nature would cry
out. But and if you still have doubts, let us hold our peace. We will
both be that which we shall be named." After alluding to Sympronian's
remark that, though Cyprian was holy, "his people bear the name of
Apostaticum, Capitolinum, or Synedrium," which were some of the Novatian
titles of the Church, St. Pacian replies, "Ask a century, brother, and
all its years in succession, whether this name has adhered to us;
whether the people of Cyprian have been called other than Catholic? No
one of these names have I ever heard." It followed that such
appellations were "taunts, not names," and therefore unmannerly. On the
other hand it seems that Sympronian did not like to be called a
Novatian, though he could not call himself a Catholic. "Tell me
yourselves," says St. Pacian, "what ye are called. Do ye deny that the
Novatians are called from Novatian? Impose on them whatever name you
like; that will ever adhere to them. Search, if you please, whole
annals, and trust so many ages. You will answer, 'Christian.' But
if I inquire the genus of the sect, you will not deny that it is
Novatian. . . . Confess it without deceit; there is no wickedness in
the name. Why, when so often inquired for, do you hide yourself? Why
ashamed of the origin of your name? When you first wrote, I thought you
a Cataphrygian. . . . Dost thou grudge me my name, and yet shun thine
own? Think what there is of shame in a cause which shrinks from its own

In a third letter: "'The Church is the Body of Christ.' Truly, the body,
not a member; the body composed of many parts and members knit in one,
as saith the Apostle, 'For the Body is not one member, but many.'
Therefore, the Church is the full body, compacted and diffused now
throughout the whole world; like a city, I mean, all whose parts are
united, not as ye are, O Novatians, some small and insolent portion, and
a mere swelling that has gathered and separated from the rest of the
body. . . . Great is the progeny of the Virgin, and without number her
offspring, wherewith the whole world is filled, wherewith the populous
swarms ever throng the circumfluous hive." And he founds this
characteristic of the Church upon the prophecies: "At length, brother
Sympronian, be not ashamed to be with the many; at length consent to
despise these festering spots of the Novatians, and these parings of
yours; and at length, to look upon the flocks of the Catholics, and the
people of the Church extending so far and wide. . . . Hear what David
saith, 'I will sing unto Thy name in the great congregation;' and again,
'I will praise Thee among much people;' and 'the Lord, even the most
mighty God, hath spoken, and called the world from the rising up of the
sun unto the going down thereof.' What! shall the seed of Abraham, which
is as the stars and the sand on the seashore for number, be contented
with your poverty? . . . Recognize now, brother, the Church of God
extending her tabernacles and fixing the stakes of her curtains on the
right and on the left; understand that 'the Lord's name is praised from
the rising up of the sun unto the going down thereof.'"


In citing these passages, I am not proving what was the doctrine of the
Fathers concerning the Church in those early times, or what were the
promises made to it in Scripture; but simply ascertaining what, in
matter of fact, was its then condition relatively to the various
Christian bodies among which it was found. That the Fathers were able to
put forward a certain doctrine, that they were able to appeal to the
prophecies, proves that matter of fact; for unless the Church, and the
Church alone, had been one body everywhere, they could not have argued
on the supposition that it was so. And so as to the word "Catholic;" it
is enough that the Church was so called; that title was a confirmatory
proof and symbol of what is even otherwise so plain, that she, as St.
Pacian explains the word, was everywhere one, while the sects of the day
were nowhere one, but everywhere divided. Sects might, indeed, be
everywhere, but they were in no two places the same; every spot had its
own independent communion, or at least to this result they were
inevitably and continually tending.


St. Pacian writes in Spain: the same contrast between the Church and
sectarianism is presented to us in Africa in the instance of the
Donatists; and St. Optatus is a witness both to the fact, and to its
notoriety, and to the deep impressions which it made on all parties.
Whether or not the Donatists identified themselves with the true Church,
and cut off the rest of Christendom from it, is not the question here,
nor alters the fact which I wish distinctly brought out and recognized,
that in those ancient times the Church was that Body which was spread
over the _orbis terrarum_, and sects were those bodies which were local
or transitory.

"What is that one Church," says St. Optatus, "which Christ calls 'Dove'
and 'Spouse'? . . . It cannot be in the multitude of heretics and
schismatics. If so, it follows that it is but in one place. Thou,
brother Parmenian, hast said that it is with you alone; unless, perhaps,
you aim at claiming for yourselves a special sanctity from your pride,
so that where you will, there the Church may be, and may not be, where
you will not. Must it then be in a small portion of Africa, in the
corner of a small realm, among you, but not among us in another part of
Africa? And not in Spain, in Gaul, in Italy, where you are not? And if
you will have it only among you, not in the three Pannonian provinces,
in Dacia, Mœsia, Thrace, Achaia, Macedonia, and in all Greece, where
you are not? And that you may keep it among yourselves, not in Pontus,
Galatia, Cappadocia, Pamphylia, Phrygia, Cilicia, in the three Syrias,
in the two Armenias, in all Egypt, and in Mesopotamia, where you are
not? Not among such innumerable islands and the other provinces,
scarcely numerable, where you are not? What will become then of the
meaning of the word Catholic, which is given to the Church, as being
according to reason[263:1] and diffused every where? For if thus at your
pleasure you narrow the Church, if you withdraw from her all the
nations, where will be the earnings of the Son of God? where will be
that which the Father hath so amply accorded to Him, saying in the
second Psalm 'I will give thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the
uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession,' &c.? . . The whole
earth is given Him with the nations; its whole circuit (_orbis_) is
Christ's one possession."[263:2]


An African writer contemporary with St. Augustine, if not St. Augustine
himself, enumerates the small portions of the Donatists Sect, in and out
of Africa, and asks if they can be imagined to be the fulfilment of the
Scripture promise to the Church. "If the holy Scriptures have assigned
the Church to Africa alone, or to the scanty Cutzupitans or Mountaineers
of Rome, or to the house or patrimony of one Spanish woman, however the
argument may stand from other writings, then none but the Donatists have
possession of the Church. If holy Scripture determines it to the few
Moors of the Cæsarean province, we must go over to the Rogatists: if to
the few Tripolitans or Byzacenes and Provincials, the Maximianists have
attained to it; if in the Orientals only, it is to be sought for among
Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, and others that may be there; for who
can enumerate every heresy of every nation? But if Christ's Church, by
the divine and most certain testimonies of Canonical Scriptures, is
assigned to all nations, whatever may be adduced, and from whatever
quarter cited, by those who say, 'Lo, here is Christ and lo there,' let
us rather hear, if we be His sheep, the voice of our Shepherd saying
unto us, 'Do not believe.' For they are not each found in the many
nations where she is; but she, who is everywhere, is found where they

Lastly, let us hear St. Augustine himself again in the same controversy:
"They do not communicate with us, as you say," he observes to
Cresconius, "Novatians, Arians, Patripassians, Valentinians, Patricians,
Apellites, Marcionites, Ophites, and the rest of those sacrilegious
names, as you call them, of nefarious pests rather than sects. Yet,
wheresoever they are, there is the Catholic Church; as in Africa it is
where you are. On the other hand, neither you, nor any one of those
heresies whatever, is to be found wherever is the Catholic Church.
Whence it appears, which is that tree whose boughs extend over all the
earth by the richness of its fruitfulness, and which be those broken
branches which have not the life of the root, but lie and wither, each
in its own place."[265:1]


It may be possibly suggested that this universality which the Fathers
ascribe to the Catholic Church lay in its Apostolical descent, or again
in its Episcopacy; and that it was one, not as being one kingdom or
civitas "at unity with itself," with one and the same intelligence in
every part, one sympathy, one ruling principle, one organization, one
communion, but because, though consisting of a number of independent
communities, at variance (if so be) with each other even to a breach of
communion, nevertheless all these were possessed of a legitimate
succession of clergy, or all governed by Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.
But who will in seriousness maintain that relationship, or that sameness
of structure, makes two bodies one? England and Prussia are both of them
monarchies; are they therefore one kingdom? England and the United
States are from one stock; can they therefore be called one state?
England and Ireland are peopled by different races; yet are they not one
kingdom still? If unity lies in the Apostolical succession, an act of
schism is from the nature of the case impossible; for as no one can
reverse his parentage, so no Church can undo the fact that its clergy
have come by lineal descent from the Apostles. Either there is no such
sin as schism, or unity does not lie in the Episcopal form or in the
Episcopal ordination. And this is felt by the controversialists of this
day; who in consequence are obliged to invent a sin, and to consider,
not division of Church from Church, but the interference of Church with
Church to be the sin of schism, as if local dioceses and bishops with
restraint were more than ecclesiastical arrangements and by-laws of the
Church, however sacred, while schism is a sin against her essence. Thus
they strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. Division is the schism, if
schism there be, not interference. If interference is a sin, division
which is the cause of it is a greater; but where division is a duty,
there can be no sin in interference.


Far different from such a theory is the picture which the ancient Church
presents to us; true, it was governed by Bishops, and those Bishops came
from the Apostles, but it was a kingdom besides; and as a kingdom admits
of the possibility of rebels, so does such a Church involve sectaries
and schismatics, but not independent portions. It was a vast organized
association, co-extensive with the Roman Empire, or rather overflowing
it. Its Bishops were not mere local officers, but possessed a
quasi-ecumenical power, extending wherever a Christian was to be found.
"No Christian," says Bingham, "would pretend to travel without taking
letters of credence with him from his own bishop, if he meant to
communicate with the Christian Church in a foreign country. Such was the
admirable unity of the Church Catholic in those days, and the blessed
harmony and consent of her bishops among one another."[266:1] St.
Gregory Nazianzen calls St. Cyprian an universal Bishop, "presiding," as
the same author presently quotes Gregory, "not only over the Church of
Carthage and Africa, but over all the regions of the West, and over the
East, and South, and Northern parts of the world also." This is
evidence of a unity throughout Christendom, not of mere origin or of
Apostolical succession, but of government. Bingham continues "[Gregory]
says the same of Athanasius; that, in being made Bishop of Alexandria,
he was made Bishop of the whole world. Chrysostom, in like manner,
styles Timothy, Bishop of the universe. . . . . The great Athanasius, as
he returned from his exile, made no scruple to ordain in several cities
as he went along, though they were not in his own diocese. And the
famous Eusebius of Samosata did the like, in the times of the Arian
persecution under Valens. . . Epiphanius made use of the same power and
privilege in a like case, ordaining Paulinianus, St. Jerome's brother,
first deacon and then presbyter, in a monastery out of his own diocese
in Palestine."[267:1] And so in respect of teaching, before Councils met
on any large scale, St. Ignatius of Antioch had addressed letters to the
Churches along the coast of Asia Minor, when on his way to martyrdom at
Rome. St. Irenæus, when a subject of the Church of Smyrna, betakes
himself to Gaul, and answers in Lyons the heresies of Syria. The see of
St. Hippolytus, as if he belonged to all parts of the _orbis terrarum_,
cannot be located, and is variously placed in the neighbourhood of Rome
and in Arabia. Hosius, a Spanish Bishop, arbitrates in an Alexandrian
controversy. St. Athanasius, driven from his Church, makes all
Christendom his home, from Treves to Ethiopia, and introduces into the
West the discipline of the Egyptian Antony. St. Jerome is born in
Dalmatia, studies at Constantinople and Alexandria, is secretary to St.
Damasus at Rome, and settles and dies in Palestine.

Above all the See of Rome itself is the centre of teaching as well as
of action, is visited by Fathers and heretics as a tribunal in
controversy, and by ancient custom sends her alms to the poor Christians
of all Churches, to Achaia and Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, and


Moreover, this universal Church was not only one; it was exclusive also.
As to the vehemence with which Christians of the Ante-nicene period
denounced the idolatries and sins of paganism, and proclaimed the
judgments which would be their consequence, this is well known, and led
to their being reputed in the heathen world as "enemies of mankind."
"Worthily doth God exert the lash of His stripes and scourges," says St.
Cyprian to a heathen magistrate; "and since they avail so little, and
convert not men to God by all this dreadfulness of havoc, there abides
beyond the prison eternal and the ceaseless flame and the everlasting
penalty. . . . Why humble yourself and bend to false gods? Why bow your
captive body before helpless images and moulded earth? Why grovel in the
prostration of death, like the serpent whom ye worship? Why rush into
the downfall of the devil, his fall the cause of yours, and he your
companion? . . . . Believe and live; you have been our persecutors in
time; in eternity, be companions of our joy."[268:1] "These rigid
sentiments," says Gibbon, "which had been unknown to the ancient world,
appear to have infused a spirit of bitterness into a system of love and
harmony."[268:2] Such, however, was the judgment passed by the first
Christians upon all who did not join their own society; and such still
more was the judgment of their successors on those who lived and died in
the sects and heresies which had issued from it. That very Father, whose
denunciation of the heathen has just been quoted, had already declared
it even in the third century. "He who leaves the Church of Christ," he
says, "attains not to Christ's rewards. He is an alien, an outcast, an
enemy. He can no longer have God for a Father, who has not the Church
for a Mother. If any man was able to escape who remained without the Ark
of Noah, then will that man escape who is out of doors beyond the
Church. . . What sacrifice do they believe they celebrate, who are
rivals of the Priests? If such men were even killed for confession of
the Christian name, not even by their blood is this stain washed out.
Inexplicable and heavy is the sin of discord, and is purged by no
suffering . . . They cannot dwell with God who have refused to be of one
mind in God's Church; a man of such sort may indeed be killed, crowned
he cannot be."[269:1] And so again St. Chrysostom, in the following
century, in harmony with St. Cyprian's sentiment: "Though we have
achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces
the fulness of the Church, suffer punishment no less sore than they who
mangled His body."[269:2] In like manner St Augustine seems to consider
that a conversion from idolatry to a schismatical communion is no gain.
"Those whom Donatists baptize, they heal of the wound of idolatry or
infidelity, but inflict a more grievous stroke in the wound of schism;
for idolaters among God's people the sword destroyed, but schismatics
the gaping earth devoured."[269:3] Elsewhere, he speaks of the
"sacrilege of schism, which surpasses all wickednesses."[269:4] St.
Optatus, too, marvels at the Donatist Parmenian's inconsistency in
maintaining the true doctrine, that "Schismatics are cut off as branches
from the vine, are destined for punishments, and reserved, as dry wood,
for hell-fire."[269:5] "Let us hate them who are worthy of hatred," says
St. Cyril, "withdraw we from those whom God withdraws from; let us also
say unto God with all boldness concerning all heretics, 'Do not I hate
them, O Lord, that hate thee?'"[270:1] "Most firmly hold, and doubt in
no wise," says St. Fulgentius, "that every heretic and schismatic
soever, baptized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, unless
aggregated to the Catholic Church, how great soever have been his alms,
though for Christ's Name he has even shed his blood, can in no wise be
saved."[270:2] The Fathers ground this doctrine on St. Paul's words
that, though we have knowledge, and give our goods to the poor, and our
body to be burned, we are nothing without love.[270:3]


One more remark shall be made: that the Catholic teachers, far from
recognizing any ecclesiastical relation as existing between the
Sectarian Bishops and Priests and their people, address the latter
immediately, as if those Bishops did not exist, and call on them to come
over to the Church individually without respect to any one besides; and
that because it is a matter of life and death. To take the instance of
the Donatists: it was nothing to the purpose that their Churches in
Africa were nearly as numerous as those of the Catholics, or that they
had a case to produce in their controversy with the Catholic Church; the
very fact that they were separated from the _orbis terrarum_ was a
public, a manifest, a simple, a sufficient argument against them. "The
question is not about your gold and silver," says St. Augustine to
Glorius and others, "not your lands, or farms, nor even your bodily
health is in peril, but we address your souls about obtaining eternal
life and fleeing eternal death. Rouse yourself therefore. . . . . You
see it all, and know it, and groan over it; yet God sees that there is
nothing to detain you in so pestiferous and sacrilegious a separation,
if you will but overcome your carnal affection, for the obtaining the
spiritual kingdom, and rid yourselves of the fear of wounding
friendships, which will avail nothing in God's judgment for escaping
eternal punishment. Go, think over the matter, consider what can be said
in answer. . . . No one blots out from heaven the Ordinance of God, no
one blots out from earth the Church of God: He hath promised her, she
hath filled, the whole world." "Some carnal intimacies," he says to his
kinsman Severinus, "hold you where you are. . . . What avails temporal
health or relationship, if with it we neglect Christ's eternal heritage
and our perpetual health?" "I ask," he says to Celer, a person of
influence, "that you would more earnestly urge upon your men Catholic
Unity in the region of Hippo." "Why," he says, in the person of the
Church, to the whole Donatist population, "Why open your ears to the
words of men, who say what they never have been able to prove, and close
them to the word of God, saying, 'Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the
heathen for Thine inheritance'?" At another time he says to them, "Some
of the presbyters of your party have sent to us to say, 'Retire from our
flocks, unless you would have us kill you.' How much more justly do we
say to them, 'Nay, do you, not retire from, but come in peace, not to
our flocks, but to the flocks of Him whose we are all; or if you will
not, and are far from peace, then do you rather retire from flocks, for
which Christ shed His Blood.'" "I call on you for Christ's sake," he
says to a late pro-consul, "to write me an answer, and to urge gently
and kindly all your people in the district of Sinis or Hippo into the
communion of the Catholic Church." He publishes an address to the
Donatists at another time to inform them of the defeat of their Bishops
in a conference: "Whoso," he says, "is separated from the Catholic
Church, however laudably he thinks he is living, by this crime alone,
that he is separated from Christ's Unity, he shall not have life, but
the wrath of God abideth on him." "Let them believe of the Catholic
Church," he writes to some converts about their friends who were still
in schism, "that is, to the Church diffused over the whole world, rather
what the Scriptures say of it than what human tongues utter in calumny."
The idea of acting upon the Donatists only as a body and through their
bishops, does not appear to have occurred to St. Augustine at


On the whole, then, we have reason to say, that if there be a form of
Christianity at this day distinguished for its careful organization, and
its consequent power; if it is spread over the world; if it is
conspicuous for zealous maintenance of its own creed; if it is
intolerant towards what it considers error; if it is engaged in
ceaseless war with all other bodies called Christian; if it, and it
alone, is called "Catholic" by the world, nay, by those very bodies, and
if it makes much of the title; if it names them heretics, and warns them
of coming woe, and calls on them one by one, to come over to itself,
overlooking every other tie; and if they, on the other hand, call it
seducer, harlot, apostate, Antichrist, devil; if, however much they
differ one with another, they consider it their common enemy; if they
strive to unite together against it, and cannot; if they are but local;
if they continually subdivide, and it remains one; if they fall one
after another, and make way for new sects, and it remains the same; such
a religious communion is not unlike historical Christianity, as it comes
before us at the Nicene Era.



The patronage extended by the first Christian Emperors to Arianism, its
adoption by the barbarians who succeeded to their power, the subsequent
expulsion of all heresy beyond the limits of the Empire, and then again
the Monophysite tendencies of Egypt and part of Syria, changed in some
measure the aspect of the Church, and claim our further attention. It
was still a body in possession, or approximating to the possession, of
the _orbis terrarum_; but it was not simply intermixed with sectaries,
as we have been surveying it in the earlier periods, rather it lay
between or over against large schisms. That same vast Association,
which, and which only, had existed from the first, which had been
identified by all parties with Christianity, which had been ever called
Catholic by people and by laws, took a different shape; collected itself
in far greater strength on some points of her extended territory than on
others; possessed whole kingdoms with scarcely a rival; lost others
partially or wholly, temporarily or for good; was stemmed in its course
here or there by external obstacles; and was defied by heresy, in a
substantive shape and in mass, from foreign lands, and with the support
of the temporal power. Thus not to mention the Arianism of the Eastern
Empire in the fourth century, the whole of the West was possessed by the
same heresy in the fifth; and nearly the whole of Asia, east of the
Euphrates, as far as it was Christian, by the Nestorians, in the
centuries which followed; while the Monophysites had almost the
possession of Egypt, and at times of the whole Eastern Church. I think
it no assumption to call Arianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism
heresies, or to identify the contemporary Catholic Church with
Christianity. Now, then, let us consider the mutual relation of
Christianity and heresy under these circumstances.

§ 1. _The Arians of the Gothic Race._

No heresy has started with greater violence or more sudden success than
the Arian; and it presents a still more remarkable exhibition of these
characteristics among the barbarians than in the civilized world. Even
among the Greeks it had shown a missionary spirit. Theophilus in the
reign of Constantius had introduced the dominant heresy, not without
some promising results, to the Sabeans of the Arabian peninsula; but
under Valens, Ulphilas became the apostle of a whole race. He taught the
Arian doctrine, which he had unhappily learned in the Imperial Court,
first to the pastoral Mœsogoths; who, unlike the other branches of
their family, had multiplied under the Mœsian mountains with neither
military nor religious triumphs. The Visigoths were next corrupted; by
whom does not appear. It is one of the singular traits in the history of
this vast family of heathens that they so instinctively caught, and so
impetuously communicated, and so fiercely maintained, a heresy, which
had excited in the Empire, except at Constantinople, little interest in
the body of the people. The Visigoths are said to have been converted by
the influence of Valens; but Valens reigned for only fourteen years, and
the barbarian population which had been admitted to the Empire amounted
to nearly a million of persons. It is as difficult to trace how the
heresy was conveyed from them to the other barbarian tribes. Gibbon
seems to suppose that the Visigoths acted the part of missionaries in
their career of predatory warfare from Thrace to the Pyrenees. But such
is the fact, however it was brought about, that the success in arms and
the conversion to Arianism, of Ostrogoths, Alani, Suevi, Vandals, and
Burgundians stand as concurrent events in the history of the times; and
by the end of the fifth century the heresy had been established by the
Visigoths in France and Spain, in Portugal by the Suevi, in Africa by
the Vandals, and by the Ostrogoths in Italy. For a while the title of
Catholic as applied to the Church seemed a misnomer; for not only was
she buried beneath these populations of heresy, but that heresy was one,
and maintained the same distinctive tenet, whether at Carthage, Seville,
Toulouse, or Ravenna.


It cannot be supposed that these northern warriors had attained to any
high degree of mental cultivation; but they understood their own
religion enough to hate the Catholics, and their bishops were learned
enough to hold disputations for its propagation. They professed to stand
upon the faith of Ariminum, administering Baptism under an altered form
of words, and re-baptizing Catholics whom they gained over to their
sect. It must be added that, whatever was their cruelty or tyranny, both
Goths and Vandals were a moral people, and put to shame the Catholics
whom they dispossessed. "What can the prerogative of a religious name
profit us," says Salvian, "that we call ourselves Catholic, boast of
being the faithful, taunt Goths and Vandals with the reproach of an
heretical appellation, while we live in heretical wickedness?"[276:1]
The barbarians were chaste, temperate, just, and devout; the Visigoth
Theodoric repaired every morning with his domestic officers to his
chapel, where service was performed by the Arian priests; and one
singular instance is on record of the defeat of a Visigoth force by the
Imperial troops on a Sunday, when instead of preparing for battle they
were engaged in the religious services of the day.[276:2] Many of their
princes were men of great ability, as the two Theodorics, Euric and


Successful warriors, animated by a fanatical spirit of religion, were
not likely to be content with a mere profession of their own creed; they
proceeded to place their own priests in the religious establishments
which they found, and to direct a bitter persecution against the
vanquished Catholics. The savage cruelties of the Vandal Hunneric in
Africa have often been enlarged upon; Spain was the scene of repeated
persecutions; Sicily, too, had its Martyrs. Compared with these
enormities, it was but a little thing to rob the Catholics of their
churches, and the shrines of their treasures. Lands, immunities, and
jurisdictions, which had been given by the Emperors to the African
Church, were made over to the clergy of its conquerors; and by the time
of Belisarius, the Catholic Bishops had been reduced to less than a
third of their original number. In Spain, as in Africa, bishops were
driven from their sees, churches were destroyed, cemeteries profaned,
martyries rifled. When it was possible, the Catholics concealed the
relics in caves, keeping up a perpetual memory of these provisional
hiding-places.[277:1] Repeated spoliations were exercised upon the
property of the Church. Leovigild applied[277:2] its treasures partly to
increasing the splendour of his throne, partly to national works. At
other times, the Arian clergy themselves must have been the recipients
of the plunder: for when Childebert the Frank had been brought into
Spain by the cruelties exercised against the Catholic Queen of the
Goths, who was his sister, he carried away with him from the Arian
churches, as St. Gregory of Tours informs us, sixty chalices, fifteen
patens, twenty cases in which the gospels were kept, all of pure gold
and ornamented with jewels.[277:3]


In France, and especially in Italy, the rule of the heretical power was
much less oppressive; Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, reigned from the Alps to
Sicily, and till the close of a long reign he gave an ample toleration
to his Catholic subjects. He respected their property, suffered their
churches and sacred places to remain in their hands, and had about his
court some of their eminent Bishops, since known as Saints, St. Cæsarius
of Arles, and St. Epiphanius of Pavia. Still he brought into the country
a new population, devoted to Arianism, or, as we now speak, a new
Church. "His march," says Gibbon,[277:4] "must be considered as the
emigration of an entire people; the wives and children of the Goths,
their aged parents, and most precious effects, were carefully
transported; and some idea may be formed of the heavy luggage that now
followed the camp by the loss of two thousand waggons, which had been
sustained in a single action in the war of Epirus." To his soldiers he
assigned a third of the soil of Italy, and the barbarian families
settled down with their slaves and cattle. The original number of the
Vandal conquerors of Africa had only been fifty thousand men, but the
military colonists of Italy soon amounted to the number of two hundred
thousand; which, according to the calculation adopted by the same author
elsewhere, involves a population of a million. The least that could be
expected was, that an Arian ascendency established through the extent of
Italy would provide for the sufficient celebration of the Arian worship,
and we hear of the Arians having a Church even in Rome.[278:1] The rule
of the Lombards in the north of Italy succeeded to that of the
Goths,--Arians, like their predecessors, without their toleration. The
clergy whom they brought with them seem to have claimed their share in
the possession of the Catholic churches;[278:2] and though the Court was
converted at the end of thirty years, many cities in Italy were for some
time afterwards troubled by the presence of heretical bishops.[278:3]
The rule of Arianism in France lasted for eighty years; in Spain for a
hundred and eighty; in Africa for a hundred; for about a hundred in
Italy. These periods were not contemporaneous; but extend altogether
from the beginning of the fifth to the end of the sixth century.


It will be anticipated that the duration of this ascendency of error
had not the faintest tendency to deprive the ancient Church of the West
of the title of Catholic; and it is needless to produce evidence of a
fact which is on the very face of the history. The Arians seem never to
have claimed the Catholic name. It is more remarkable that the Catholics
during this period were denoted by the additional title of "Romans." Of
this there are many proofs in the histories of St. Gregory of Tours,
Victor of Vite, and the Spanish Councils. Thus, St. Gregory speaks of
Theodegisilus, a king of Portugal, expressing his incredulity at a
miracle, by saying, "It is the temper of the Romans, (for," interposes
the author, "they call men of our religion Romans,) and not the power of
God."[279:1] "Heresy is everywhere an enemy to Catholics," says the same
St. Gregory in a subsequent place, and he proceeds to illustrate it by
the story of a "Catholic woman," who had a heretic husband, to whom, he
says, came "a presbyter of our religion very Catholic;" and whom the
husband matched at table with his own Arian presbyter, "that there might
be the priests of each religion" in their house at once. When they were
eating, the husband said to the Arian, "Let us have some sport with this
presbyter of the Romans."[279:2] The Arian Count Gomachar, seized on the
lands of the Church of Agde in France, and was attacked with a fever; on
his recovery, at the prayers of the Bishop, he repented of having asked
for them, observing, "What will these Romans say now? that my fever came
of taking their land."[279:3] When the Vandal Theodoric would have
killed the Catholic Armogastes, after failing to torture him into
heresy, his presbyter dissuaded him, "lest the Romans should begin to
call him a Martyr."[279:4]


This appellation had two meanings; one, which will readily suggest
itself, is its use in contrast to the word "barbarian," as denoting the
faith of the Empire, as "Greek" occurs in St. Paul's Epistles. In this
sense it would more naturally be used by the Romans themselves than by
others. Thus Salvian says, that "nearly all the Romans are greater
sinners than the barbarians;"[280:1] and he speaks of "Roman heretics,
of which there is an innumerable multitude,"[280:2] meaning heretics
within the Empire. And so St. Gregory the Great complains, that he "had
become Bishop of the Lombards rather than of the Romans."[280:3] And
Evagrius, speaking even of the East, contrasts "Romans and
barbarians"[280:4] in his account of St. Simeon; and at a later date,
and even to this day, Thrace and portions of Dacia and of Asia Minor
derive their name from Rome. In like manner, we find Syrian writers
sometimes speaking of the religion of the Romans, sometimes of the
Greeks,[280:5] as synonymes.


But the word certainly contains also an allusion to the faith and
communion of the Roman See. In this sense the Emperor Theodosius, in his
letter to Acacius of Berœa, contrasts it with Nestorianism, which was
within the Empire as well as Catholicism; during the controversy raised
by that heresy, he exhorts him and others to show themselves "approved
priests of the Roman religion."[280:6] Again when the Ligurian nobles
were persuading the Arian Ricimer to come to terms with Anthemius, the
orthodox representative of the Greek Emperor,[280:7] they propose to him
to send St. Epiphanius as ambassador, a man "whose life is venerable to
every Catholic and Roman, and at least amiable in the eyes of a Greek
(_Græculus_) if he deserves the sight of him."[281:1] It must be
recollected, too, that the Spanish and African Churches actually were in
the closest union with the See of Rome at that time, and that that
intercommunion was the visible ecclesiastical distinction between them
and their Arian rivals. The chief ground of the Vandal Hunneric's
persecution of the African Catholics seems to have been their connexion
with their brethren beyond the sea,[281:2] which he looked at with
jealousy, as introducing a foreign power into his territory. Prior to
this he had published an edict calling on the "Homoüsian" Bishops (for
on this occasion he did not call them Catholic), to meet his own bishops
at Carthage and treat concerning the faith, that "their meetings to the
seduction of Christian souls might not be held in the provinces of the
Vandals."[281:3] Upon this invitation, Eugenius of Carthage replied,
that all the transmarine Bishops of the orthodox communion ought to be
summoned, "in particular because it is a matter for the whole world, not
special to the African provinces," that "they could not undertake a
point of faith _sine universitatis assensu_." Hunneric answered that if
Eugenius would make him sovereign of the _orbis terrarum_, he would
comply with his request. This led Eugenius to say that the orthodox
faith was "the only true faith;" that the king ought to write to his
allies abroad, if he wished to know it, and that he himself would write
to his brethren for foreign bishops, "who," he says, "may assist us in
setting before you the true faith, common to them and to us, and
especially the Roman Church, which is the head of all Churches."
Moreover, the African Bishops in their banishment in Sardinia, to the
number of sixty, with St. Fulgentius at their head, quote with
approbation the words of Pope Hormisdas, to the effect that they hold,
"on the point of free will and divine grace, what the Roman, that is,
the Catholic, Church follows and preserves."[282:1] Again, the Spanish
Church was under the superintendence of the Pope's Vicar[282:2] during
the persecutions, whose duty it was to hinder all encroachments upon
"the Apostolical decrees, or the limits of the Holy Fathers," through
the whole of the country.


Nor was the association of Catholicism with the See of Rome an
introduction of that age. The Emperor Gratian, in the fourth century,
had ordered that the Churches which the Arians had usurped should be
restored (not to those who held "the Catholic faith," or "the Nicene
Creed," or were "in communion with the _orbis terrarum_,") but "who
chose the communion of Damasus,"[282:3] the then Pope. It was St.
Jerome's rule, also, in some well-known passages:--Writing against
Ruffinus, who had spoken of "our faith," he says, "What does he mean by
'his faith'? that which is the strength of the Roman Church? or that
which is contained in the volumes of Origen? If he answer, 'The Roman,'
then we are Catholics who have borrowed nothing of Origen's error; but
if Origen's blasphemy be his faith, then, while he is charging me with
inconsistency, he proves himself to be an heretic."[282:4] The other
passage, already quoted, is still more exactly to the point, because it
was written on occasion of a schism. The divisions at Antioch had thrown
the Catholic Church into a remarkable position; there were two Bishops
in the See, one in connexion with the East, the other with Egypt and the
West,--with which then was "Catholic Communion"? St. Jerome has no doubt
on the subject:--Writing to St. Damasus, he says, "Since the East tears
into pieces the Lord's coat, . . . therefore by me is the chair of Peter
to be consulted, and that faith which is praised by the Apostle's
mouth. . . . Though your greatness terrifies me, yet your kindness
invites me. From the Priest I ask the salvation of the victim, from the
Shepherd the protection of the sheep. Let us speak without offence; I
court not the Roman height: I speak with the successor of the Fisherman
and the disciple of the Cross. I, who follow none as my chief but
Christ, am associated in communion with thy blessedness, that is, with
the See of Peter. On that rock the Church is built, I know. Whoso shall
eat the Lamb outside that House is profane . . . . I know not Vitalis"
(the Apollinarian), "Meletius I reject, I am ignorant of Paulinus. Whoso
gathereth not with thee, scattereth; that is, he who is not of Christ is
of Antichrist."[283:1] Again, "The ancient authority of the monks,
dwelling round about, rises against me; I meanwhile cry out, If any be
joined to Peter's chair he is mine."[283:2]


Here was what may be considered a _dignus vindice nodus_, the Church
being divided, and an arbiter wanted. Such a case had also occurred in
Africa in the controversy with the Donatists. Four hundred bishops,
though but in one region, were a fifth part of the whole Episcopate of
Christendom, and might seem too many for a schism, and in themselves too
large a body to be cut off from God's inheritance by a mere majority,
even had it been overwhelming. St. Augustine, then, who so often appeals
to the _orbis terrarum_, sometimes adopts a more prompt criterion. He
tells certain Donatists to whom he writes, that the Catholic Bishop of
Carthage "was able to make light of the thronging multitude of his
enemies, when he found himself by letters of credence joined both to the
Roman Church, in which ever had flourished the principality of the
Apostolical See, and to the other lands whence the gospel came to Africa

There are good reasons then for explaining the Gothic and Arian use of
the word "Roman," when applied to the Catholic Church and faith, of
something beyond its mere connexion with the Empire, which the
barbarians were assaulting; nor would "Roman" surely be the most obvious
word to denote the orthodox faith, in the mouths of a people who had
learned their heresy from a Roman Emperor and Court, and who professed
to direct their belief by the great Latin Council of Ariminum.


As then the fourth century presented to us in its external aspect the
Catholic Church lying in the midst of a multitude of sects, all enemies
to it, so in the fifth and sixth we see the same Church lying in the
West under the oppression of a huge, farspreading, and schismatical
communion. Heresy is no longer a domestic enemy intermingled with the
Church, but it occupies its own ground and is extended over against her,
even though on the same territory, and is more or less organized, and
cannot be so promptly refuted by the simple test of Catholicity.

§ 2. _The Nestorians._

The Churches of Syria and Asia Minor were the most intellectual portion
of early Christendom. Alexandria was but one metropolis in a large
region, and contained the philosophy of the whole Patriarchate; but
Syria abounded in wealthy and luxurious cities, the creation of the
Seleucidæ, where the arts and the schools of Greece had full
opportunities of cultivation. For a time too, for the first two hundred
years, as some think, Alexandria was the only See as well as the only
school of Egypt; while Syria was divided into smaller dioceses, each of
which had at first an authority of its own, and which, even after the
growth of the Patriarchal power, received their respective bishops, not
from the See of Antioch, but from their own metropolitan. In Syria too
the schools were private, a circumstance which would tend both to
diversity in religious opinion, and incaution in the expression of it;
but the sole catechetical school of Egypt was the organ of the Church,
and its Bishop could banish Origen for speculations which developed and
ripened with impunity in Syria.


But the immediate source of that fertility in heresy, which is the
unhappiness of the ancient Syrian Church, was its celebrated Exegetical
School. The history of that School is summed up in the broad
characteristic fact, on the one hand that it devoted itself to the
literal and critical interpretation of Scripture, and on the other that
it gave rise first to the Arian and then to the Nestorian heresy. If
additional evidence be wanted of the connexion of heterodoxy and
biblical criticism in that age, it is found in the fact that, not long
after this coincidence in Syria, they are found combined in the person
of Theodore of Heraclea, so called from the place both of his birth and
his bishoprick, an able commentator and an active enemy of St.
Athanasius, though a Thracian unconnected except by sympathy with the
Patriarchate of Antioch.

The Antiochene School appears to have risen in the middle of the third
century; but there is no evidence to determine whether it was a local
institution, or, as is more probable, a discipline or method
characteristic generally of Syrian teaching. Dorotheus is one of its
earliest luminaries; he is known as a Hebrew scholar, as well as a
commentator on the sacred text, and he was the master of Eusebius of
Cæsarea. Lucian, the friend of the notorious Paul of Samosata, and for
three successive Episcopates after him separated from the Church though
afterwards a martyr in it, was the author of a new edition of the
Septuagint, and master of the chief original teachers of Arianism.
Eusebius of Cæsarea, Asterius called the Sophist, and Eusebius of Emesa,
Arians of the Nicene period, and Diodorus, a zealous opponent of
Arianism, but the master of Theodore of Mopsuestia, have all a place in
the Exegetical School. St. Chrysostom and Theodoret, both Syrians, and
the former the pupil of Diodorus, adopted the literal interpretation,
though preserved from its abuse. But the principal doctor of the School
was that Theodore, the master of Nestorius, who has just above been
mentioned, and who, with his writings, and with the writings of
Theodoret against St. Cyril, and the letter written by Ibas of Edessa to
Maris, was condemned by the fifth Ecumenical Council. Ibas was the
translator into Syriac, and Maris into Persian, of the books of Theodore
and Diodorus;[286:1] and thus they became immediate instruments in the
formation of the great Nestorian school and Church in farther Asia.

As many as ten thousand tracts of Theodore are said in this way to have
been introduced to the knowledge of the Christians of Mesopotamia,
Adiabene, Babylonia, and the neighbouring countries. He was called by
those Churches absolutely "the Interpreter," and it eventually became
the very profession of the Nestorian communion to follow him as such.
"The doctrine of all our Eastern Churches," says their Council under the
Patriarch Marabas, "is founded on the Creed of Nicæa; but in the
exposition of the Scriptures we follow St. Theodore." "We must by all
means remain firm to the commentaries of the great Commentator," says
the Council under Sabarjesus; "whoso shall in any manner oppose them, or
think otherwise, be he anathema."[287:1] No one since the beginning of
Christianity, except Origen and St. Augustine, has had so great literary
influence on his brethren as Theodore.[287:2]


The original Syrian School had possessed very marked characteristics,
which it did not lose when it passed into a new country and into strange
tongues. Its comments on Scripture seem to have been clear, natural,
methodical, apposite, and logically exact. "In all Western Aramæa," says
Lengerke, that is, in Syria, "there was but one mode of treating whether
exegetics or doctrine, the practical."[287:3] Thus Eusebius of Cæsarea,
whether as a disputant or a commentator, is commonly a writer of sense
and judgment; and he is to be referred to the Syrian school, though he
does not enter so far into its temper as to exclude the mystical
interpretation or to deny the verbal inspiration of Scripture. Again, we
see in St. Chrysostom a direct, straightforward treatment of the sacred
text, and a pointed application of it to things and persons; and
Theodoret abounds in modes of thinking and reasoning which without any
great impropriety may be called English. Again, St. Cyril of Jerusalem,
though he does not abstain from allegory, shows the character of his
school by the great stress he lays upon the study of Scripture, and, I
may add, by the peculiar characteristics of his style, which will be
appreciated by a modern reader.


It would have been well, had the genius of the Syrian theology been
ever in the safe keeping of men such as St. Cyril, St. Chrysostom, and
Theodoret; but in Theodore of Mopsuestia, nay in Diodorus before him, it
developed into those errors, of which Paul of Samosata had been the omen
on its rise. As its attention was chiefly directed to the examination of
the Scriptures, in its interpretation of the Scriptures was its
heretical temper discovered; and though allegory can be made an
instrument for evading Scripture doctrine, criticism may more readily be
turned to the destruction of doctrine and Scripture together. Theodore
was bent on ascertaining the literal sense, an object with which no
fault could be found: but, leading him of course to the Hebrew text
instead of the Septuagint, it also led him to Jewish commentators.
Jewish commentators naturally suggested events and objects short of
evangelical as the fulfilment of the prophetical announcements, and,
when it was possible, an ethical sense instead of a prophetical. The
eighth chapter of Proverbs ceased to bear a Christian meaning, because,
as Theodore maintained, the writer of the book had received the gift,
not of prophecy, but of wisdom. The Canticles must be interpreted
literally; and then it was but an easy, or rather a necessary step, to
exclude the book from the Canon. The book of Job too professed to be
historical; yet what was it really but a Gentile drama? He also gave up
the books of Chronicles and Ezra, and, strange to say, the Epistle of
St. James, though it was contained in the Peschito Version of his
Church. He denied that Psalms 22 and 69 [21 and 68] applied to our Lord;
rather he limited the Messianic passages of the whole book to four; of
which the eighth Psalm was one, and the forty-fifth [44] another. The
rest he explained of Hezekiah and Zerubbabel, without denying that they
might be accommodated to an evangelical sense.[288:1] He explained St.
Thomas's words, "My Lord and my God," as an exclamation of joy, and our
Lord's "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," as an anticipation of the day of
Pentecost. As may be expected he denied the verbal inspiration of
Scripture. Also, he held that the deluge did not cover the earth; and,
as others before him, he was heterodox on the doctrine of original sin,
and denied the eternity of punishment.


Maintaining that the real sense of Scripture was, not the scope of a
Divine Intelligence, but the intention of the mere human organ of
inspiration, Theodore was led to hold, not only that that sense was one
in each text, but that it was continuous and single in a context; that
what was the subject of the composition in one verse must be the subject
in the next, and that if a Psalm was historical or prophetical in its
commencement, it was the one or the other to its termination. Even that
fulness, of meaning, refinement of thought, subtle versatility of
feeling, and delicate reserve or reverent suggestiveness, which poets
exemplify, seems to have been excluded from his idea of a sacred
composition. Accordingly, if a Psalm contained passages which could not
be applied to our Lord, it followed that that Psalm did not properly
apply to Him at all, except by accommodation. Such at least is the
doctrine of Cosmas, a writer of Theodore's school, who on this ground
passes over the twenty-second, sixty-ninth, and other Psalms, and limits
the Messianic to the second, the eighth, the forty-fifth, and the
hundred and tenth. "David," he says, "did not make common to the
servants what belongs to the Lord[289:1] Christ, but what was proper to
the Lord he spoke of the Lord, and what was proper to the servants, of
servants."[289:2] Accordingly the twenty-second could not properly
belong to Christ, because in the beginning it spoke of the "_verba
delictorum meorum_." A remarkable consequence would follow from this
doctrine, that as Christ was to be separated from His Saints, so the
Saints were to be separated from Christ; and an opening was made for a
denial of the doctrine of their _cultus_, though this denial in the
event has not been developed among the Nestorians. But a more serious
consequence is latently contained in it, and nothing else than the
Nestorian heresy, viz. that our Lord's manhood is not so intimately
included in His Divine Personality that His brethren according to the
flesh may be associated with the Image of the One Christ. Here St.
Chrysostom pointedly contradicts the doctrine of Theodore, though his
fellow-pupil and friend;[290:1] as does St. Ephrem, though a Syrian
also;[290:2] and St. Basil.[290:3]


One other peculiarity of the Syrian school, viewed as independent of
Nestorius, should be added:--As it tended to the separation of the
Divine Person of Christ from His manhood, so did it tend to explain away
His Divine Presence in the Sacramental elements. Ernesti seems to
consider the school, in modern language, Sacramentarian: and certainly
some of the most cogent testimonies brought by moderns against the
Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist are taken from writers who are
connected with that school; as the author, said to be St. Chrysostom, of
the Epistle to Cæsarius, Theodoret in his Eranistes, and Facundus. Some
countenance too is given to the same view of the Eucharist, at least in
some parts of his works, by Origen, whose language concerning the
Incarnation also leans to what was afterwards Nestorianism. To these may
be added Eusebius,[291:1] who, far removed, as he was, from that
heresy, was a disciple of the Syrian school. The language of the later
Nestorian writers seems to have been of the same character.[291:2] Such
then on the whole is the character of that theology of Theodore which
passed from Cilicia and Antioch to Edessa first, and then to Nisibis.


Edessa, the metropolis of Mesopotamia, had remained an Oriental city
till the third century, when it was made a Roman colony by
Caracalla.[291:3] Its position on the confines of two empires gave it
great ecclesiastical importance, as the channel by which the theology of
Rome and Greece was conveyed to a family of Christians, dwelling in
contempt and persecution amid a still heathen world. It was the seat of
various schools; apparently of a Greek school, where the classics were
studied as well as theology, where Eusebius of Emesa[291:4] had
originally been trained, and where perhaps Protogenes taught.[291:5]
There were also Syrian schools attended by heathen and Christian youths
in common. The cultivation of the native language had been an especial
object of its masters since the time of Vespasian, so that the pure and
refined dialect went by the name of the Edessene.[291:6] At Edessa too
St. Ephrem formed his own Syrian school, which lasted long after him;
and there too was the celebrated Persian Christian school, over which
Maris presided, who has been already mentioned as the translator of
Theodore into Persian.[291:7] Even in the time of the predecessor of
Ibas in the See (before A.D. 435) the Nestorianism of this Persian
School was so notorious that Rabbula the Bishop had expelled its
masters and scholars;[292:1] and they, taking refuge in a country which
might be called their own, had introduced the heresy to the Churches
subject to the Persian King.


Something ought to be said of these Churches; though little is known
except what is revealed by the fact, in itself of no slight value, that
they had sustained two persecutions at the hands of the heathen
government in the fourth and fifth centuries. One testimony is extant as
early as the end of the second century, to the effect that in Parthia,
Media, Persia, and Bactria there were Christians who "were not overcome
by evil laws and customs."[292:2] In the early part of the fourth
century, a bishop of Persia attended the Nicene Council, and about the
same time Christianity is said to have pervaded nearly the whole of
Assyria.[292:3] Monachism had been introduced there before the middle of
the fourth century, and shortly after commenced that fearful persecution
in which sixteen thousand Christians are said to have suffered. It
lasted thirty years, and is said to have recommenced at the end of the
Century. The second persecution lasted for at least another thirty years
of the next, at the very time when the Nestorian troubles were in
progress in the Empire. Trials such as these show the populousness as
well as the faith of the Churches in those parts,--and the number of the
Sees, for the names of twenty-seven Bishops are preserved who suffered
in the former persecution. One of them was apprehended together with
sixteen priests, nine deacons, besides monks and nuns of his diocese;
another with twenty-eight companions, ecclesiastics or regulars; another
with one hundred ecclesiastics of different orders; another with one
hundred and twenty-eight; another with his chorepiscopus and two hundred
and fifty of his clergy. Such was the Church, consecrated by the blood
of so many martyrs, which immediately after its glorious confession fell
a prey to the theology of Theodore; and which through a succession of
ages manifested the energy, when it had lost the pure orthodoxy of


The members of the Persian school, who had been driven out of Edessa by
Rabbula, found a wide field open for their exertions under the pagan
government with which they had taken refuge. The Persian monarchs, who
had often prohibited by edict[293:1] the intercommunion of the Church
under their sway with the countries towards the west, readily extended
their protection to exiles, whose very profession was the means of
destroying its Catholicity. Barsumas, the most energetic of them, was
placed in the metropolitan See of Nisibis, where also the fugitive
school was settled under the presidency of another of their party; while
Maris was promoted to the See of Ardaschir. The primacy of the Church
had from an early period belonged to the See of Seleucia in Babylonia.
Catholicus was the title appropriated to its occupant, as well as to the
Persian Primate, as being deputies of the Patriarch of Antioch, and was
derived apparently from the Imperial dignity so called, denoting their
function as Procurators-general, or officers in chief for the regions in
which they were placed. Acacius, another of the Edessene party, was put
into this principal See, and suffered, if he did not further, the
innovations of Barsumas. The mode by which the latter effected those
measures has been left on record by an enemy. "Barsumas accused Babuæus,
the Catholicus, before King Pherozes, whispering, 'These men hold the
faith of the Romans, and are their spies. Give me power against them to
arrest them.'"[294:1] It is said that in this way he obtained the death
of Babuæus, whom Acacius succeeded. When a minority resisted[294:2] the
process of schism, a persecution followed. The death of seven thousand
seven hundred Catholics is said by Monophysite authorities to have been
the price of the severance of the Chaldaic Churches from
Christendom.[294:3] Their loss was compensated in the eyes of the
Government by the multitude of Nestorian fugitives, who flocked into
Persia from the Empire, numbers of them industrious artisans, who sought
a country where their own religion was in the ascendant.


That religion was founded, as we have already seen, in the literal
interpretation of Holy Scripture, of which Theodore was the principal
teacher. The doctrine, in which it formally consisted, is known by the
name of Nestorianism: it lay in the ascription of a human as well as a
Divine Personality to our Lord; and it showed itself in denying the
title of "Mother of God," or θεοτόκος, to the Blessed Mary. As to our
Lord's Personality, the question of language came into the controversy,
which always serves to perplex a subject and make a dispute seem a
matter of words. The native Syrians made a distinction between the word
"Person," and "Prosopon," which stands for it in Greek; they allowed
that there was one Prosopon or Parsopa, as they called it, and they
heldthat there were two Persons. If it is asked what they meant by
_parsopa_, the answer seems to be, that they took the word merely in
the sense of _character_ or _aspect_, a sense familiar to the Greek
_prosopon_, and quite irrelevant as a guarantee of their orthodoxy. It
follows moreover that, since the _aspect_ of a thing is its impression
upon the beholder, the personality to which they ascribed unity must
have laid in our Lord's manhood, and not in His Divine Nature. But it is
hardly worth while pursuing the heresy to its limits. Next, as to
the phrase "Mother of God," they rejected it as unscriptural; they
maintained that St. Mary was Mother of the humanity of Christ, not of
the Word, and they fortified themselves by the Nicene Creed, in which no
such title is ascribed to her.


Whatever might be the obscurity or the plausibility of their original
dogma, there is nothing obscure or attractive in the developments,
whether of doctrine or of practice, in which it issued. The first act of
the exiles of Edessa, on their obtaining power in the Chaldean
communion, was to abolish the celibacy of the clergy, or, in Gibbon's
forcible words, to allow "the public and reiterated nuptials of the
priests, the bishops, and even the patriarch himself." Barsumas, the
great instrument of the change of religion, was the first to set an
example of the new usage, and is even said by a Nestorian writer to have
married a nun.[295:1] He passed a Canon at Councils, held at Seleucia
and elsewhere, that bishops and priests might marry, and might renew
their wives as often as they lost them. The Catholicus who followed
Acacius went so far as to extend the benefit of the Canon to Monks, that
is, to destroy the Monastic order; and his two successors availed
themselves of this liberty, and are recorded to have been fathers. A
restriction, however, was afterwards placed upon the Catholicus, and
upon the Episcopal order.


Such were the circumstances, and such the principles, under which the
See of Seleucia became the Rome of the East. In the course of time the
Catholicus took on himself the loftier and independent title of
Patriarch of Babylon; and though Seleucia was changed for Ctesiphon and
for Bagdad,[296:1] still the name of Babylon was preserved from first to
last as a formal or ideal Metropolis. In the time of the Caliphs, it was
at the head of as many as twenty-five Archbishops; its Communion
extended from China to Jerusalem; and its numbers, with those of the
Monophysites, are said to have surpassed those of the Greek and Latin
Churches together. The Nestorians seem to have been unwilling, like the
Novatians, to be called by the name of their founder,[296:2] though they
confessed it had adhered to them; one instance may be specified of their
assuming the name of Catholic,[296:3] but there is nothing to show it
was given them by others.

"From the conquest of Persia," says Gibbon, "they carried their
spiritual arms to the North, the East, and the South; and the simplicity
of the Gospel was fashioned and painted with the colours of the Syriac
theology. In the sixth century, according to the report of a Nestorian
traveller, Christianity was successfully preached to the Bactrians, the
Huns, the Persians, the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the
Elamites: the Barbaric Churches from the gulf of Persia to the Caspian
Sea were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the
number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of
Malabar and the isles of the ocean, Socotra and Ceylon, were peopled
with an increasing multitude of Christians, and the bishops and clergy
of those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the
Catholicus of Babylon. In a subsequent age, the zeal of the Nestorians
overleaped the limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both
of the Greeks and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand
pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated
themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the

§ 3. _The Monophysites._

Eutyches was Archimandrite, or Abbot, of a Monastery in the suburbs of
Constantinople; he was a man of unexceptionable character, and was of
the age of seventy years, and had been Abbot for thirty, at the date of
his unhappy introduction into ecclesiastical history. He had been the
friend and assistant of St. Cyril of Alexandria, and had lately taken
part against Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, whose name has occurred in the
above account of the Nestorians. For some time he had been engaged in
teaching a doctrine concerning the Incarnation, which he maintained
indeed to be none other than that of St. Cyril's in his controversy with
Nestorius, but which others denounced as a heresy in the opposite
extreme, and substantially a reassertion of Apollinarianism. The subject
was brought before a Council of Constantinople, under the presidency of
Flavian, the Patriarch, in the year 448; and Eutyches was condemned by
the assembled Bishops of holding the doctrine of One, instead of Two
Natures in Christ.


It is scarcely necessary for our present purpose to ascertain accurately
what he held, and there has been a great deal of controversy on the
subject; partly from confusion between him and his successors, partly
from the indecision or the ambiguity which commonly attaches to the
professions of heretics. If a statement must here be made of the
doctrine of Eutyches himself, in whom the controversy began, let it be
said to consist in these two tenets:--in maintaining first, that "before
the Incarnation there were two natures, after their union one," or that
our Lord was of or from two natures, but not in two;--and, secondly,
that His flesh was not of one substance with ours, that is, not of the
substance of the Blessed Virgin. Of these two points, he seemed willing
to abandon the second, but was firm in his maintenance of the first. But
let us return to the Council of Constantinople.

In his examination Eutyches allowed that the Holy Virgin was
consubstantial with us, and that "our God was incarnate of her;" but he
would not allow that He was therefore, as man, consubstantial with us,
his notion apparently being that union with the Divinity had changed
what otherwise would have been human nature. However, when pressed, he
said, that, though up to that day he had not permitted himself to
discuss the nature of Christ, or to affirm that "God's body is man's
body though it was human," yet he would allow, if commanded, our Lord's
consubstantiality with us. Upon this Flavian observed that "the Council
was introducing no innovation, but declaring the faith of the Fathers."
To his other position, however, that our Lord had but one nature after
the Incarnation, he adhered: when the Catholic doctrine was put before
him, he answered, "Let St. Athanasius be read; you will find nothing of
the kind in him."

His condemnation followed: it was signed by twenty-two Bishops and
twenty-three Abbots;[298:1] among the former were Flavian of
Constantinople, Basil metropolitan of Seleucia in Isauria, the
metropolitans of Amasea in Pontus, and Marcianopolis in Mœsia, and
the Bishop of Cos, the Pope's minister at Constantinople.


Eutyches appealed to the Pope of the day, St. Leo, who at first hearing
took his part. He wrote to Flavian that, "judging by the statement of
Eutyches, he did not see with what justice he had been separated from
the communion of the Church." "Send therefore," he continued, "some
suitable person to give us a full account of what has occurred, and let
us know what the new error is." St. Flavian, who had behaved with great
forbearance throughout the proceedings, had not much difficulty in
setting the controversy before the Pope in its true light.

Eutyches was supported by the Imperial Court, and by Dioscorus the
Patriarch of Alexandria; the proceedings therefore at Constantinople
were not allowed to settle the question. A general Council was summoned
for the ensuing summer at Ephesus, where the third Ecumenical Council
had been held twenty years before against Nestorius. It was attended by
sixty metropolitans, ten from each of the great divisions of the East;
the whole number of bishops assembled amounted to one hundred and
thirty-five.[299:1] Dioscorus was appointed President by the Emperor,
and the object of the assembly was said to be the settlement of a
question of faith which had arisen between Flavian and Eutyches. St.
Leo, dissatisfied with the measure altogether, nevertheless sent his
legates, but with the object, as their commission stated, and a letter
he addressed to the Council, of "condemning the heresy, and reinstating
Eutyches if he retracted." His legates took precedence after Dioscorus
and before the other Patriarchs. He also published at this time his
celebrated Tome on the Incarnation, in a letter addressed to Flavian.

The proceedings which followed were of so violent a character, that the
Council has gone down to posterity under the name of the Latrocinium or
"Gang of Robbers." Eutyches was honourably acquitted, and his doctrine
received; but the assembled Fathers showed some backwardness to depose
St. Flavian. Dioscorus had been attended by a multitude of monks,
furious zealots for the Monophysite doctrine from Syria and Egypt, and
by an armed force. These broke into the Church at his call; Flavian was
thrown down and trampled on, and received injuries of which he died the
third day after. The Pope's legates escaped as they could; and the
Bishops were compelled to sign a blank paper, which was afterwards
filled up with the condemnation of Flavian. These outrages, however,
were subsequent to the Synodical acceptance of the Creed of Eutyches,
which seems to have been the spontaneous act of the assembled Fathers.
The proceedings ended by Dioscorus excommunicating the Pope, and the
Emperor issuing an edict in approval of the decision of the Council.


Before continuing the narrative, let us pause awhile to consider what it
has already brought before us. An aged and blameless man, the friend of
a Saint, and him the great champion of the faith against the heresy of
his day, is found in the belief and maintenance of a doctrine, which he
declares to be the very doctrine which that Saint taught in opposition
to that heresy. To prove it, he and his friends refer to the very words
of St. Cyril; Eustathius of Berytus quoting from him at Ephesus as
follows: "We must not then conceive two natures, but one nature of the
Word incarnate."[300:1] Moreover, it seems that St. Cyril had been
called to account for this very phrase, and had appealed more than once
to a passage, which is extant as he quoted it, in a work by St.
Athanasius.[301:1] Whether the passage in question is genuine is very
doubtful, but that is not to the purpose; for the phrase which it
contains is also attributed by St. Cyril to other Fathers, and was
admitted by Catholics generally, as by St. Flavian, who deposed
Eutyches, nay was indirectly adopted by the Council of Chalcedon itself.


But Eutyches did not merely insist upon a phrase; he appealed for his
doctrine to the Fathers generally; "I have read the blessed Cyril, and
the holy Fathers, and the holy Athanasius," he says at Constantinople,
"that they said, 'Of two natures before the union,' but that 'after the
union' they said 'but one.'"[301:2] In his letter to St. Leo, he appeals
in particular to Pope Julius, Pope Felix, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St.
Gregory Nazianzen, St. Basil, Atticus, and St. Proclus. He did not
appeal to them unreservedly certainly, as shall be presently noticed; he
allowed that they might err, and perhaps had erred, in their
expressions: but it is plain, even from what has been said, that there
could be no _consensus_ against him, as the word is now commonly
understood. It is also undeniable that, though the word "nature" is
applied to our Lord's manhood by St. Ambrose, St. Gregory Nazianzen and
others, yet on the whole it is for whatever reason avoided by the
previous Fathers; certainly by St. Athanasius, who uses the words
"manhood," "flesh," "the man," "economy," where a later writer would
have used "nature:" and the same is true of St. Hilary.[301:3] In like
manner, the Athanasian Creed, written, as it is supposed, some twenty
years before the date of Eutyches, does not contain the word "nature."
Much might be said on the plausibility of the defence, which Eutyches
might have made for his doctrine from the history and documents of the
Church before his time.


Further, Eutyches professed to subscribe heartily the decrees of the
Council of Nicæa and Ephesus, and his friends appealed to the latter of
these Councils and to previous Fathers, in proof that nothing could be
added to the Creed of the Church. "I," he says to St. Leo, "even from my
elders have so understood, and from my childhood have so been
instructed, as the holy and Ecumenical Council at Nicæa of the three
hundred and eighteen most blessed Bishops settled the faith, and which
the holy Council held at Ephesus maintained and defined anew as the only
faith; and I have never understood otherwise than as the right or only
true orthodox faith hath enjoined." He says at the Latrocinium, "When I
declared that my faith was conformable to the decision of Nicæa,
confirmed at Ephesus, they demanded that I should add some words to it;
and I, fearing to act contrary to the decrees of the First Council of
Ephesus and of the Council of Nicæa, desired that your holy Council
might be made acquainted with it, since I was ready to submit to
whatever you should approve."[302:1] Dioscorus states the matter more
strongly: "We have heard," he says, "what this Council" of Ephesus
"decreed, that if any one affirm or opine anything, or raise any
question, beyond the Creed aforesaid" of Nicæa, "he is to be
condemned."[302:2] It is remarkable that the Council of Ephesus, which
laid down this rule, had itself sanctioned the Theotocos, an addition,
greater perhaps than any before or since, to the letter of the primitive


Further, Eutyches appealed to Scripture, and denied that a human nature
was there given to our Lord; and this appeal obliged him in consequence
to refuse an unconditional assent to the Councils and Fathers, though he
so confidently spoke about them at other times. It was urged against him
that the Nicene Council itself had introduced into the Creed
extra-scriptural terms. "'I have never found in Scripture,' he said,"
according to one of the Priests who were sent to him, "'that there are
two natures.' I replied, 'Neither is the Consubstantiality,'" (the
Homoüsion of Nicæa,) "'to be found in the Scriptures, but in the Holy
Fathers who well understood them and faithfully expounded them.'"[303:1]
Accordingly, on another occasion, a report was made of him, that "he
professed himself ready to assent to the Exposition of Faith made by the
Holy Fathers of the Nicene and Ephesine Councils and he engaged to
subscribe their interpretations. However, if there were any accidental
fault or error in any expressions which they made, this he would neither
blame nor accept; but only search the Scriptures, as being surer than
the expositions of the Fathers; that since the time of the Incarnation
of God the Word . . he worshipped one Nature . . . that the doctrine
that our Lord Jesus Christ came of Two Natures personally united, this
it was that he had learned from the expositions of the Holy Fathers; nor
did he accept, if ought was read to him from any author to [another]
effect, because the Holy Scriptures, as he said, were better than the
teaching of the Fathers."[304:1] This appeal to the Scriptures will
remind us of what has lately been said of the school of Theodore
in the history of Nestorianism, and of the challenge of the Arians
to St. Avitus before the Gothic King.[304:2] It had also been the
characteristic of heresy in the antecedent period. St. Hilary brings
together a number of instances in point, from the history of Marcellus,
Photinus, Sabellius, Montanus, and Manes; then he adds, "They all speak
Scripture without the sense of Scripture, and profess a faith without


Once more; the Council of the Latrocinium, however, tyrannized over by
Dioscorus in the matter of St. Flavian, certainly did acquit Eutyches
and accept his doctrine canonically, and, as it would appear, cordially;
though their change at Chalcedon, and the subsequent variations of the
East, make it a matter of little moment how they decided. The Acts of
Constantinople were read to the Fathers of the Latrocinium; when they
came to the part where Eusebius of Dorylæum, the accuser of Eutyches,
asked him, whether he confessed Two Natures after the Incarnation, and
the Consubstantiality according to the flesh, the Fathers broke in upon
the reading:--"Away with Eusebius; burn him; burn him alive; cut him in
two; as he divided, so let him be divided."[305:1] The Council seems to
have been unanimous, with the exception of the Pope's Legates, in the
restoration of Eutyches; a more complete decision can hardly be

It is true the whole number of signatures now extant, one hundred and
eight, may seem small out of a thousand, the number of Sees in the East;
but the attendance of Councils always bore a representative character.
The whole number of East and West was about eighteen hundred, yet the
second Ecumenical Council was attended by only one hundred and fifty,
which is but a twelfth part of the whole number; the Third Council by
about two hundred, or a ninth; the Council of Nicæa itself numbered only
three hundred and eighteen Bishops. Moreover, when we look through the
names subscribed to the Synodal decision, we find that the misbelief, or
misapprehension, or weakness, to which this great offence must be
attributed, was no local phenomenon, but the unanimous sin of Bishops in
every patriarchate and of every school of the East. Three out of the
four patriarchs were in favour of the heresiarch, the fourth being on
his trial. Of these Domnus of Antioch and Juvenal of Jerusalem acquitted
him, on the ground of his confessing the faith of Nicæa and Ephesus: and
Domnus was a man of the fairest and purest character, and originally a
disciple of St. Euthemius, however inconsistent on this occasion, and
ill-advised in former steps of his career. Dioscorus, violent and bad
man as he showed himself, had been Archdeacon to St. Cyril, whom he
attended at the Council of Ephesus; and was on this occasion supported
by those Churches which had so nobly stood by their patriarch Athanasius
in the great Arian conflict. These three Patriarchs were supported by
the Exarchs of Ephesus and Cæsarea in Cappadocia; and both of these as
well as Domnus and Juvenal, were supported in turn by their subordinate
Metropolitans. Even the Sees under the influence of Constantinople,
which was the remaining sixth division of the East, took part with
Eutyches. We find among the signatures to his acquittal the Bishops of
Dyrrachium, of Heraclea in Macedonia, of Messene in the Peloponese, of
Sebaste in Armenia, of Tarsus, of Damascus, of Berytus, of Bostra in
Arabia, of Amida in Mesopotamia, of Himeria in Osrhoene, of Babylon, of
Arsinoe in Egypt, and of Cyrene. The Bishops of Palestine, of Macedonia,
and of Achaia, where the keen eye of St. Athanasius had detected the
doctrine in its germ, while Apollinarianism was but growing into form,
were his actual partisans. Another Barsumas, a Syrian Abbot, ignorant of
Greek, attended the Latrocinium, as the representative of the monks of
his nation, whom he formed into a force, material or moral, of a
thousand strong, and whom at that infamous assembly he cheered on to the
murder of St. Flavian.


Such was the state of Eastern Christendom in the year 449; a heresy,
appealing to the Fathers, to the Creed, and, above all, to Scripture,
was by a general Council, professing to be Ecumenical, received as true
in the person of its promulgator. If the East could determine a matter
of faith independently of the West, certainly the Monophysite heresy was
established as Apostolic truth in all its provinces from Macedonia to

There has been a time in the history of Christianity, when it had been
Athanasius against the world, and the world against Athanasius. The need
and straitness of the Church had been great, and one man was raised up
for her deliverance. In this second necessity, who was the destined
champion of her who cannot fail? Whence did he come, and what was his
name? He came with an augury of victory upon him, which even Athanasius
could not show; it was Leo, Bishop of Rome.


Leo's augury of success, which even Athanasius had not, was this, that
he was seated in the chair of St. Peter and the heir of his
prerogatives. In the very beginning of the controversy, St. Peter
Chrysologus had urged this grave consideration upon Eutyches himself, in
words which have already been cited: "I exhort you, my venerable
brother," he had said, "to submit yourself in everything to what has
been written by the blessed Pope of Rome; for St. Peter, who lives and
presides in his own See, gives the true faith to those who seek
it."[307:1] This voice had come from Ravenna, and now after the
Latrocinium it was echoed back from the depths of Syria by the learned
Theodoret. "That all-holy See," he says in a letter to one of the
Pope's Legates, "has the office of heading (ἡγεμονίαν) the whole world's
Churches for many reasons; and above all others, because it has remained
free of the communion of heretical taint, and no one of heterodox
sentiments hath sat in it, but it hath preserved the Apostolic grace
unsullied."[307:2] And a third testimony in encouragement of the
faithful at the same dark moment issued from the Imperial court of the
West. "We are bound," says Valentinian to the Emperor of the East, "to
preserve inviolate in our times the prerogative of particular reverence
to the blessed Apostle Peter; that the most blessed Bishop of Rome,
to whom Antiquity assigned the priesthood over all (κατὰ πάντων) may
have place and opportunity of judging concerning the faith and the
priests."[307:3] Nor had Leo himself been wanting at the same time in
"the confidence" he had "obtained from the most blessed Peter and head
of the Apostles, that he had authority to defend the truth for the peace
of the Church."[308:1] Thus Leo introduces us to the Council of
Chalcedon, by which he rescued the East from a grave heresy.


The Council met on the 8th of October, 451, and was attended by the
largest number of Bishops of any Council before or since; some say by as
many as six hundred and thirty. Of these, only four came from the West,
two Roman Legates and two Africans.[308:2]

Its proceedings were opened by the Pope's Legates, who said that they
had it in charge from the Bishop of Rome, "which is the head of all the
Churches," to demand that Dioscorus should not sit, on the ground that
"he had presumed to hold a Council without the authority of the
Apostolic See, which had never been done nor was lawful to do."[308:3]
This was immediately allowed them.

The next act of the Council was to give admission to Theodoret, who had
been deposed at the Latrocinium. The Imperial officers present urged his
admission, on the ground that "the most holy Archbishop Leo hath
restored him to the Episcopal office, and the most pious Emperor hath
ordered that he should assist at the holy Council."[308:4]

Presently, a charge was brought forward against Dioscorus, that, though
the Legates had presented a letter from the Pope to the Council, it had
not been read. Dioscorus admitted not only the fact, but its relevancy;
but alleged in excuse that he had twice ordered it to be read in vain.

In the course of the reading of the Acts of the Latrocinium and
Constantinople, a number of Bishops moved from the side of Dioscorus
and placed themselves with the opposite party. When Peter, Bishop of
Corinth, crossed over, the Orientals whom he joined shouted, "Peter
thinks as does Peter; orthodox Bishop, welcome."


In the second Session it was the duty of the Fathers to draw up a
confession of faith condemnatory of the heresy. A committee was formed
for the purpose, and the Creed of Nicæa and Constantinople was read;
then some of the Epistles of St. Cyril; lastly, St. Leo's Tome, which
had been passed over in silence at the Latrocinium. Some discussion
followed upon the last of these documents, but at length the Bishops
cried out, "This is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the
Apostles: we all believe thus; the orthodox believe thus; anathema to
him who does not believe thus. Peter has thus spoken through Leo; the
Apostles taught thus." Readings from the other Fathers followed; and
then some days were allowed for private discussion, before drawing up
the confession of faith which was to set right the heterodoxy of the

During the interval, Dioscorus was tried and condemned; sentence was
pronounced against him by the Pope's Legates, and ran thus: "The most
holy Archbishop of Rome, Leo, through us and this present Council, with
the Apostle St. Peter, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic
Church and of the orthodox faith, deprives him of the Episcopal dignity
and every sacerdotal ministry."

In the fourth Session the question of the definition of faith came on
again, but the Council got no further than this, that it received the
definitions of the three previous Ecumenical Councils; it would not add
to them what Leo required. One hundred and sixty Bishops however
subscribed his Tome.


In the fifth Session the question came on once more; some sort of
definition of faith was the result of the labours of the committee, and
was accepted by the great majority of the Council. The Bishops cried
out, "We are all satisfied with the definition; it is the faith of the
Fathers: anathema to him who thinks otherwise: drive out the
Nestorians." When objectors appeared, Anatolius, the new Patriarch of
Constantinople, asked "Did not every one yesterday consent to the
definition of faith?" on which the Bishops answered, "Every one
consented; we do not believe otherwise; it is the Faith of the Fathers;
let it be set down that Holy Mary is the Mother of God: let this be
added to the Creed; put out the Nestorians."[310:1] The objectors were
the Pope's Legates, supported by a certain number of Orientals: those
clear-sighted, firm-minded Latins understood full well what and what
alone was the true expression of orthodox doctrine under the emergency
of the existing heresy. They had been instructed to induce the Council
to pass a declaration to the effect, that Christ was not only "of," but
"in" two natures. However, they did not enter upon disputation on the
point, but they used a more intelligible argument: If the Fathers did
not consent to the letter of the blessed Bishop Leo, they would leave
the Council and go home. The Imperial officers took the part of the
Legates. The Council however persisted: "Every one approved the
definition; let it be subscribed: he who refuses to subscribe it is a
heretic." They even proceeded to refer it to Divine inspiration. The
officers asked if they received St. Leo's Tome; they answered that they
had subscribed it, but that they would not introduce its contents into
their definition of faith. "We are for no other definition," they said;
"nothing is wanting in this."


Notwithstanding, the Pope's Legates gained their point through the
support of the Emperor Marcian, who had succeeded Theodosius. A fresh
committee was obtained under the threat that, if they resisted, the
Council should be transferred to the West. Some voices were raised
against this measure; the cries were repeated against the Roman party,
"They are Nestorians; let them go to Rome." The Imperial officers
remonstrated, "Dioscorus said, 'Of two natures;' Leo says, 'Two
natures:' which will you follow, Leo or Dioscorus?" On their answering
"Leo," they continued, "Well then, add to the definition, according to
the judgment of our most holy Leo." Nothing more was to be said. The
committee immediately proceeded to their work, and in a short time
returned to the assembly with such a definition as the Pope required.
After reciting the Creed of Nicæa and Constantinople, it observes, "This
Creed were sufficient for the perfect knowledge of religion, but the
enemies of the truth have invented novel expressions;" and therefore it
proceeds to state the faith more explicitly. When this was read through,
the Bishops all exclaimed, "This is the faith of the Fathers; we all
follow it." And thus ended the controversy once for all.

The Council, after its termination, addressed a letter to St. Leo; in it
the Fathers acknowledge him as "constituted interpreter of the voice of
Blessed Peter,"[311:1] (with an allusion to St. Peter's Confession in
Matthew xvi.,) and speak of him as "the very one commissioned with the
guardianship of the Vine by the Saviour."


Such is the external aspect of those proceedings by which the Catholic
faith has been established in Christendom against the Monophysites. That
the definition passed at Chalcedon is the Apostolic Truth once delivered
to the Saints is most firmly to be received, from faith in that
overruling Providence which is by special promise extended over the acts
of the Church; moreover, that it is in simple accordance with the faith
of St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and all the other Fathers,
will be evident to the theological student in proportion as he becomes
familiar with their works: but the historical account of the Council is
this, that a formula which the Creed did not contain, which the Fathers
did not unanimously witness, and which some eminent Saints had almost in
set terms opposed, which the whole East refused as a symbol, not once,
but twice, patriarch by patriarch, metropolitan by metropolitan, first
by the mouth of above a hundred, then by the mouth of above six hundred
of its Bishops, and refused upon the grounds of its being an addition to
the Creed, was forced upon the Council, not indeed as being such an
addition, yet, on the other hand, not for subscription merely, but for
acceptance as a definition of faith under the sanction of an
anathema,--forced on the Council by the resolution of the Pope of the
day, acting through his Legates and supported by the civil power.[312:1]


It cannot be supposed that such a transaction would approve itself to
the Churches of Egypt, and the event showed it: they disowned the
authority of the Council, and called its adherents Chalcedonians,[313:1]
and Synodites.[313:2] For here was the West tyrannizing over the East,
forcing it into agreement with itself, resolved to have one and one only
form of words, rejecting the definition of faith which the East had
drawn up in Council, bidding it and making it frame another, dealing
peremptorily and sternly with the assembled Bishops, and casting
contempt on the most sacred traditions of Egypt! What was Eutyches to
them? He might be guilty or innocent; they gave him up: Dioscorus had
given him up at Chalcedon;[313:3] they did not agree with him:[313:4] he
was an extreme man; they would not call themselves by human titles; they
were not Eutychians; Eutyches was not their master, but Athanasius and
Cyril were their doctors.[313:5] The two great lights of their Church,
the two greatest and most successful polemical Fathers that Christianity
had seen, had both pronounced "One Nature Incarnate," though allowing
Two before the Incarnation; and though Leo and his Council had not gone
so far as to deny this phrase, they had proceeded to say what was the
contrary to it, to explain away, to overlay the truth, by defining that
the Incarnate Saviour was "in Two Natures." At Ephesus it had been
declared that the Creed should not be touched; the Chalcedonian Fathers
had, not literally, but virtually added to it: by subscribing Leo's
Tome, and promulgating their definition of faith, they had added what
might be called, "The Creed of Pope Leo."


It is remarkable, as has been just stated, that Dioscorus, wicked man
as he was in act, was of the moderate or middle school in doctrine, as
the violent and able Severus after him; and from the first the great
body of the protesting party disowned Eutyches, whose form of the heresy
took refuge in Armenia, where it remains to this day. The Armenians
alone were pure Eutychians, and so zealously such that they innovated on
the ancient and recognized custom of mixing water with the wine in the
Holy Eucharist, and consecrated the wine by itself in token of the one
nature, as they considered, of the Christ. Elsewhere both name and
doctrine of Eutyches were abjured; the heretical bodies in Egypt and
Syria took a title from their special tenet, and formed the Monophysite
communion. Their theology was at once simple and specious. They based it
upon the illustration which is familiar to us in the Athanasian Creed,
and which had been used by St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Cyril, St.
Augustine, Vincent of Lerins, not to say St. Leo himself. They argued
that as body and soul made up one man, so God and man made up but one,
though one compound Nature, in Christ. It might have been charitably
hoped that their difference from the Catholics had been a simple matter
of words, as it is allowed by Vigilius of Thapsus really to have been in
many cases; but their refusal to obey the voice of the Church was a
token of real error in their faith, and their implicit heterodoxy is
proved by their connexion, in spite of themselves, with the extreme or
ultra party whom they so vehemently disowned.

It is very observable that, ingenious as is their theory and sometimes
perplexing to a disputant, the Monophysites never could shake themselves
free of the Eutychians; and though they could draw intelligible lines on
paper between the two doctrines, yet in fact by a hidden fatality their
partisans were ever running into or forming alliance with the
anathematized extreme. Thus Peter the Fuller the Theopaschite
(Eutychian), is at one time in alliance with Peter the Stammerer, who
advocated the Henoticon (which was Monophysite). The Acephali, though
separating from the latter Peter for that advocacy, and accused by
Leontius of being Gaianites[315:1] (Eutychians), are considered by
Facundus as Monophysites.[315:2] Timothy the Cat, who is said to have
agreed with Dioscorus and Peter the Stammerer, who signed the Henoticon,
that is, with two Monophysite Patriarchs, is said nevertheless,
according to Anastasius, to have maintained the extreme tenet, that "the
Divinity is the sole nature of Christ."[315:3] Severus, according to
Anastasius,[315:3] symbolized with the Phantasiasts (Eutychians), yet he
is more truly, according to Leontius, the chief doctor and leader of the
Monophysites. And at one time there was an union, though temporary,
between the Theodosians (Monophysites) and the Gaianites.


Such a division of an heretical party, into the maintainers, of an
extreme and a moderate view, perspicuous and plausible on paper, yet in
fact unreal, impracticable, and hopeless, was no new phenomenon in the
history of the Church. As Eutyches put forward an extravagant tenet,
which was first corrected into the Monophysite, and then relapsed
hopelessly into the doctrine of the Phantasiasts and the Theopaschites,
so had Arius been superseded by the Eusebians and had revived in
Eunomius; and as the moderate Eusebians had formed the great body of the
dissentients from the Nicene Council, so did the Monophysites include
the mass of those who protested against Chalcedon; and as the Eusebians
had been moderate in creed, yet unscrupulous in act, so were the
Monophysites. And as the Eusebians were ever running individually into
pure Arianism, so did the Monophysites run into pure Eutychianism. And
as the Monophysites set themselves against Pope Leo, so had the
Eusebians, with even less provocation, withstood and complained of Pope
Julius. In like manner, the Apollinarians had divided into two sects;
one, with Timotheus, going the whole length of the inferences which the
tenet of their master involved, and the more cautious or timid party
making an unintelligible stand with Valentinus. Again, in the history of
Nestorianism, though it admitted less opportunity for division of
opinion, the See of Rome was with St. Cyril in one extreme, Nestorius in
the other, and between them the great Eastern party, headed by John of
Antioch and Theodoret, not heretical, but for a time dissatisfied with
the Council of Ephesus.


The Nestorian heresy, I have said, gave less opportunity for doctrinal
varieties than the heresy of Eutyches. Its spirit was rationalizing, and
had the qualities which go with rationalism. When cast out of the Roman
Empire, it addressed itself, as we have seen, to a new and rich field of
exertion, got possession of an Established Church, co-operated with the
civil government, adopted secular fashions, and, by whatever means,
pushed itself out into an Empire. Apparently, though it requires a very
intimate knowledge of its history to speak except conjecturally, it was
a political power rather than a dogma, and despised the science of
theology. Eutychianism, on the other hand, was mystical, severe,
enthusiastic; with the exception of Severus, and one or two more, it was
supported by little polemical skill; it had little hold upon the
intellectual Greeks of Syria and Asia Minor, but flourished in Egypt,
which was far behind the East in civilization, and among the native
Syrians. Nestorianism, like Arianism[317:1] before it, was a cold
religion, and more fitted for the schools than for the many; but the
Monophysites carried the people with them. Like modern Jansenism, and
unlike Nestorianism, the Monophysites were famous for their austerities.
They have, or had, five Lents in the year, during which laity as well as
clergy abstain not only from flesh and eggs, but from wine, oil, and
fish.[317:2] Monachism was a characteristic part of their ecclesiastical
system: their Bishops, and Maphrian or Patriarch, were always taken from
the Monks, who are even said to have worn an iron shirt or breastplate
as a part of their monastic habit.[317:3]


Severus, Patriarch of Antioch at the end of the fifth century, has
already been mentioned as an exception to the general character of the
Monophysites, and, by his learning and ability, may be accounted the
founder of its theology. Their cause, however, had been undertaken by
the Emperors themselves before him. For the first thirty years after the
Council of Chalcedon, the protesting Church of Egypt had been the scene
of continued tumult and bloodshed. Dioscorus had been popular with the
people for his munificence, in spite of the extreme laxity of his
morals, and for a while the Imperial Government failed in obtaining the
election of a Catholic successor. At length Proterius, a man of fair
character, and the Vicar-general of Dioscorus on his absence at
Chalcedon, was chosen, consecrated, and enthroned; but the people rose
against the civil authorities, and the military, coming to their
defence, were attacked with stones, and pursued into a church, where
they were burned alive by the mob. Next, the popular leaders prepared to
intercept the supplies of grain which were destined for Constantinople;
and, a defensive retaliation taking place, Alexandria was starved. Then
a force of two thousand men was sent for the restoration of order, who
permitted themselves in scandalous excesses towards the women of
Alexandria. Proterius's life was attempted, and he was obliged to be
attended by a guard. The Bishops of Egypt would not submit to him; two
of his own clergy, who afterward succeeded him, Timothy and Peter,
seceded, and were joined by four or five of the Bishops and by the mass
of the population;[318:1] and the Catholic Patriarch was left without a
communion in Alexandria. He held a council, and condemned the
schismatics; and the Emperor, seconding his efforts, sent them out of
the country, and enforced the laws against the Eutychians. An external
quiet succeeded; then Marcian died; and then forthwith Timothy (the Cat)
made his appearance again, first in Egypt, then in Alexandria. The
people rose in his favour, and carried in triumph their persecuted
champion to the great Cæsarean Church, where he was consecrated
Patriarch by two deprived Bishops, who had been put out of their sees,
whether by a Council of Egypt or of Palestine.[318:2] Timothy, now
raised to the Episcopal rank, began to create a new succession; he
ordained Bishops for the Churches of Egypt, and drove into exile those
who were in possession. The Imperial troops, who had been stationed in
Upper Egypt, returned to Alexandria; the mob rose again, broke into the
Church, where St. Proterius was in prayer, and murdered him. A general
ejectment of the Catholic clergy throughout Egypt followed. On their
betaking themselves to Constantinople to the new Emperor, Timothy and
his party addressed him also. They quoted the Fathers, and demanded the
abrogation of the Council of Chalcedon. Next they demanded a conference;
the Catholics said that what was once done could not be undone; their
opponents agreed to this and urged it, as their very argument against
Chalcedon, that it added to the faith, and reversed former
decisions.[319:1] After a rule of three years, Timothy was driven out
and Catholicism restored; but then in turn the Monophysites rallied, and
this state of warfare and alternate success continued for thirty years.


At length the Imperial Government, wearied out with a dispute which was
interminable, came to the conclusion that the only way of restoring
peace to the Church was to abandon the Council of Chalcedon. In the year
482 was published the famous _Henoticon_ or Pacification of Zeno, in
which the Emperor took upon himself to determine a matter of faith. The
Henoticon declared that no symbol of faith but that of the Nicene Creed,
commonly so called, should be received in the Churches; it anathematized
the opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches, and it was silent on
the question of the "One" or "Two Natures" after the Incarnation. This
middle measure had the various effects which might be anticipated. It
united the great body of the Eastern Bishops, who readily relaxed into
the vague profession of doctrine from which they had been roused by the
authority of St. Leo. All the Eastern Bishops signed this Imperial
formulary. But this unanimity of the East was purchased by a breach with
the West; for the Popes cut off the communication between Greeks and
Latins for thirty-five years. On the other hand, the more zealous
Monophysites, disgusted at their leaders for accepting what they
considered an unjustifiable compromise, split off from the Eastern
Churches, and formed a sect by themselves, which remained without
Bishops (_acephali_) for three hundred years, when at length they were
received back into the communion of the Catholic Church.


Dreary and waste was the condition of the Church, and forlorn her
prospects, at the period which we have been reviewing. After the brief
triumph which attended the conversion of Constantine, trouble and trial
had returned upon her. Her imperial protectors were failing in power or
in faith. Strange forms of evil were rising in the distance and were
thronging for the conflict. There was but one spot in the whole of
Christendom, one voice in the whole Episcopate, to which the faithful
turned in hope in that miserable day. In the year 493, in the
Pontificate of Gelasius, the whole of the East was in the hands of
traitors to Chalcedon, and the whole of the West under the tyranny of
the open enemies of Nicæa. Italy was the prey of robbers; mercenary
bands had overrun its territory, and barbarians were seizing on its
farms and settling in its villas. The peasants were thinned by famine
and pestilence; Tuscany might be even said, as Gelasius words it, to
contain scarcely a single inhabitant.[320:1] Odoacer was sinking before
Theodoric, and the Pope was changing one Arian master for another. And
as if one heresy were not enough, Pelagianism was spreading with the
connivance of the Bishops in the territory of Picenum. In the North of
the dismembered Empire, the Britons had first been infected by
Pelagianism, and now were dispossessed by the heathen Saxons. The
Armoricans still preserved a witness of Catholicism in the West of Gaul;
but Picardy, Champagne, and the neighbouring provinces, where some
remnant of its supremacy had been found, had lately submitted to the
yet heathen Clovis. The Arian kingdoms of Burgundy in France, and of the
Visigoths in Aquitaine and Spain, oppressed a zealous and Catholic
clergy, Africa was in still more deplorable condition under the cruel
sway of the Vandal Gundamond: the people indeed uncorrupted by the
heresy,[321:1] but their clergy in exile and their worship suspended.
While such was the state of the Latins, what had happened in the East?
Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had secretly taken part
against the Council of Chalcedon and was under Papal excommunication.
Nearly the whole East had sided with Acacius, and a schism had begun
between East and West, which lasted, as I have above stated, for
thirty-five years. The Henoticon was in force, and at the Imperial
command had been signed by all the Patriarchs and Bishops throughout the
Eastern Empire.[321:2] In Armenia the Churches were ripening for the
pure Eutychianism which they adopted in the following century; and in
Egypt the Acephali, already separated from the Monophysite Patriarch,
were extending in the east and west of the country, and preferred the
loss of the Episcopal Succession to the reception of the Council of
Chalcedon. And while Monophysites or their favourers occupied the
Churches of the Eastern Empire, Nestorianism was making progress in the
territories beyond it. Barsumas had held the See of Nisibis, Theodore
was read in the schools of Persia, and the successive Catholici of
Seleucia had abolished Monachism and were secularizing the clergy.


If then there is now a form of Christianity such, that it extends
throughout the world, though with varying measures of prominence or
prosperity in separate places;--that it lies under the power of
sovereigns and magistrates, in various ways alien to its faith;--that
flourishing nations and great empires, professing or tolerating the
Christian name, lie over against it as antagonists;--that schools of
philosophy and learning are supporting theories, and following out
conclusions, hostile to it, and establishing an exegetical system
subversive of its Scriptures;--that it has lost whole Churches by
schism, and is now opposed by powerful communions once part of
itself;--that it has been altogether or almost driven from some
countries;--that in others its line of teachers is overlaid, its flocks
oppressed, its Churches occupied, its property held by what may be
called a duplicate succession;--that in others its members are
degenerate and corrupt, and are surpassed in conscientiousness and in
virtue, as in gifts of intellect, by the very heretics whom it
condemns;--that heresies are rife and bishops negligent within its own
pale;--and that amid its disorders and its fears there is but one Voice
for whose decisions the peoples wait with trust, one Name and one See to
which they look with hope, and that name Peter, and that see Rome;--such
a religion is not unlike the Christianity of the fifth and sixth


[208:1] [This juxtaposition of names has been strangely distorted by
critics. In the intention of the author, Guizot matched with Pliny, not
with Frederick.]

[213:1] Vid. Muller de Hierarch. et Ascetic. Warburton, Div. Leg. ii. 4.
Selden de Diis Syr. Acad. des Inscript. t. 3, hist. p. 296, t. 5, mem.
p. 63, t. 16, mem. p. 267. Lucian. Pseudomant. Cod. Theod. ix. 16.

[214:1] Acad. t. 16. mem. p. 274.

[215:1] Apol. 25. Vid. also Prudent. in hon. Romani, circ. fin. and
Lucian de Deo Syr. 50.

[215:2] Vid. also the scene in Jul. Firm. p. 449.

[216:1] Tac. Ann. ii. 85; Sueton. Tiber. 36.

[216:2] August. 93.

[216:3] De Superst. 3.

[216:4] De Art. Am. i. init.

[217:1] Sat. iii. vi.

[217:2] Tertul. Ap. 5.

[218:1] Vit. Hel. 3.

[219:1] Vid. Tillemont, Mem. and Lardner's Hist. Heretics.

[221:1] Bampton Lect. 2.

[222:1] Burton, Bampton Lect. note 61.

[223:1] Burton, Bampton Lect. note 44.

[223:2] Montfaucon, Antiq. t. ii. part 2, p. 353.

[223:3] Hær. i. 20.

[223:4] De Præscr. 43.

[225:1] Vid. Kortholt, in Plin. et Traj. Epp. p. 152. Comment. in Minuc.
F. &c.

[228:1] "Itaque imposuistis in cervicibus nostris sempiternum dominum,
quem dies et noctes timeremus; quis enim non timeat omnia providentem et
cogitantem et animadvertentem, et omnia ad se pertinere putantem,
curiosum, et plenum negotii Deum?"--_Cic. de Nat. Deor._ i. 20.

[228:2] Min. c. 11. Lact. v. 1, 2, vid. Arnob. ii. 8, &c.

[228:3] Origen, contr. Cels. i. 9, iii. 44, 50, vi. 44.

[229:1] Prudent. in hon. Fruct. 37.

[229:2] Evan. Dem. iii. 3, 4.

[229:3] Mort. Peregr. 13.

[229:4] c. 108.

[229:5] i. e. Philop. 16.

[229:6] De Mort. Pereg. ibid.

[229:7] Ruin. Mart. pp. 100, 594, &c.

[230:1] Prud. in hon. Rom. vv. 404, 868.

[230:2] We have specimens of _carmina_ ascribed to Christians in the

[230:3] Goth. in Cod. Th. t. 5, p. 120, ed. 1665. Again, "Qui malefici
vulgi consuetudine nuncupantur." Leg. 6. So Lactantius, "Magi et ii quos
verè maleficos vulgus appellat." Inst. ii. 17. "Quos et maleficos vulgus
appellat." August. Civ. Dei, x. 19. "Quos vulgus mathematicos vocat."
Hieron. in Dan. c. ii. Vid. Gothof. in loc. Other laws speak of those
who were "maleficiorum labe polluti," and of the "maleficiorum scabies."

[230:4] Tertullian too mentions the charge of "hostes principum
Romanorum, populi, generis humani, Deorum, Imperatorum, legum, morum,
naturæ totius inimici." Apol. 2, 35, 38, ad. Scap. 4, ad. Nat. i. 17.

[231:1] Evid. part ii. ch. 4.

[232:1] Heathen Test. 9.

[233:1] Gothof. in Cod. Th. t. 5, p. 121.

[233:2] Cic. pro Cluent. 61. Gieseler transl. vol. i. p. 21, note 5.
Acad. Inscr. t. 34, hist. p. 110.

[234:1] De Harusp. Resp. 9.

[234:2] De Legg. ii. 8.

[234:3] Acad. Inscr. ibid.

[234:4] Neander, Eccl. Hist. tr. vol. i. p. 81.

[234:5] Muller, p. 21, 22, 30. Tertull. Ox. tr. p. 12, note _p_.

[235:1] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 16, note 14.

[235:2] Epit. Instit. 55.

[236:1] Gibbon, ibid. Origen admits and defends the violation of the
laws: οὐκ ἄλογον συνθήκας παρὰ τὰ νενομισμένα ποιεῖν, τὰς ὑπὲρ ἁληθείας. c. Cels. i. 1.

[237:1] Hist. p. 418.

[237:2] In hon. Rom. 62. In Act. S. Cypr. 4, Tert. Apol. 10, &c.

[238:1] Apol. i. 3, 39, Oxf. tr.

[241:1] Julian ap. Cyril, pp. 39, 194, 206, 335. Epp. pp. 305, 429, 438,
ed. Spanh.

[242:1] Niebuhr ascribes it to the beginning of the tenth.

[245:1] Sirm. Opp. ii. p. 225, ed. Ven.

[247:1] Proph. Office, p. 132 [Via Media, vol. i. p. 109].

[247:2] [Since the publication of this volume in 1845, a writer in a
Conservative periodical of great name has considered that no happier
designation could be bestowed upon us than that which heathen statesmen
gave to the first Christians, "enemies of the human race." What a
remarkable witness to our identity with the Church of St. Paul ("a
pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition throughout the world"), of St.
Ignatius, St. Polycarp, and the other Martyrs! In this matter,
Conservative politicians join with Liberals, and with the movement
parties in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, in their view of
our religion.

"The Catholics," says the _Quarterly Review_ for January, 1873, pp.
181-2, "wherever they are numerous and powerful in a Protestant nation,
_compel_ (sic) as it were by a law of their being, that nation to treat
them with stern repression and control. . . . Catholicism, if it be true
to itself, and its mission, _cannot_ (sic) . . . wherever and whenever
the opportunity is afforded it, abstain from claiming, working for, and
grasping that supremacy and paramount influence and control, which it
conscientiously believes to be its inalienable and universal due. . . .
By the force of circumstances, by the inexorable logic of its claims, it
must be the intestine foe or the disturbing element of every state in
which it does not bear sway; and . . . it must now stand out in the
estimate of all Protestants, Patriots and Thinkers" (philosophers and
historians, as Tacitus?) "as the _hostis humani generis_ (sic), &c."]

[254:1] De Præscr. Hær. 41, Oxf. tr.

[254:2] χρονῖται.

[256:1] Cat. xviii. 26.

[257:1] Contr. Ep. Manich. 5.

[257:2] Origen, Opp. t. i. p. 809.

[258:1] Strom. vii. 17.

[258:2] c. Tryph. 35.

[258:3] Instit. 4. 30.

[259:1] Hær. 42, p. 366.

[259:2] In Lucif. fin.

[259:3] The Oxford translation is used.

[263:1] _Rationabilis_; apparently an allusion to the civil officer
called _Catholicus_ or _Rationalis_, receiver-general.

[263:2] Ad. Parm. ii. init.

[264:1] De Unit. Eccles. 6.

[265:1] Contr. Cresc. iv. 75; also iii. 77.

[266:1] Antiq. ii. 4, § 5.

[267:1] Antiq. 5, § 3. [Bingham apparently in this passage is indirectly
replying to the Catholic argument for the Pope's Supremacy drawn from
the titles and acts ascribed to him in antiquity; but that argument is
cumulative in character, being part of a whole body of proof; and there
is moreover a great difference between a rhetorical discourse and a
synodal enunciation as at Chalcedon.]

[268:1] Ad Demetr. 4, &c. Oxf. Tr.

[268:2] Hist. ch. xv.

[269:1] De Unit. 5, 12.

[269:2] Chrys. in Eph. iv.

[269:3] De Baptism. i. 10.

[269:4] c. Ep. Parm. i. 7.

[269:5] De Schism. Donat. i. 10.

[270:1] Cat. xvi. 10.

[270:2] De Fid. ad Petr. 39. [82.]

[270:3] [Of course this solemn truth must not be taken apart from the
words of the present Pope, Pius IX., concerning invincible ignorance:
"Notum nobis vobisque est, eos, qui invincibili circa sanctissimam
nostram religionem ignorantiâ laborant, quique naturalem legem ejusque
præcepta in omnium cordibus a Deo insculpta sedulo servantes, ac Deo
obedire parati, honestam rectamque vitam agunt, posse, divinæ lucis et
gratiæ operante virtute, æternam consequi vitam, cùm Deus, qui omnium
mentes, animos, cogitationes, habitusque planè intuetur, scrutatur et
noscit, pro summâ suâ bonitate et clementia, minimè patiatur quempiam
æternis puniri suppliciis, qui voluntariæ culpæ reatum non habeat."]

[272:1] Epp. 43, 52, 57, 76, 105, 112, 141, 144.

[276:1] De Gubern. Dei, vii. p. 142. Elsewhere, "Apud Aquitanicos quæ
civitas in locupletissimâ ac nobilissimâ sui parte non quasi lupanar
fuit? Quis potentum ac divitum non in luto libidinis vixit? Haud multum
matrona abest à vilitate servarum, ubi paterfamilias ancillarum maritus
est? Quis autem Aquitanorum divitum non hoc fuit?" (pp. 134, 135.)
"Offenduntur barbari ipsi impuritatibus nostris. Esse inter Gothos non
licet scortatorem Gothum; soli inter eos præjudicio nationis ac nominis
permittuntur impuri esse Romani" (p. 137). "Quid? Hispanias nonne vel
eadem vel majora forsitan vitia perdiderunt? . . . Accessit hoc ad
manifestandam illic impudicitiæ damnationem, ut Wandalis potissimum, id
est, pudicis barbaris traderentur" (p. 137). Of Africa and Carthage, "In
urbe Christianâ, in urbe ecclesiasticâ, . . . viri in semetipsis feminas
profitebantur," &c. (p. 152).

[276:2] Dunham, Hist. Spain, vol. i. p. 112.

[277:1] Aguirr. Concil. t. 2, p. 191.

[277:2] Dunham, p. 125.

[277:3] Hist. Franc. iii. 10.

[277:4] Ch. 39.

[278:1] Greg. Dial. iii. 30.

[278:2] Ibid. 20.

[278:3] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 37.

[279:1] De Glor. Mart. i. 25.

[279:2] Ibid. 80.

[279:3] Ibid. 79.

[279:4] Vict. Vit. i. 14.

[280:1] De Gub. D. iv. p. 73.

[280:2] Ibid. v. p. 88.

[280:3] Epp. i. 31.

[280:4] Hist. vi. 23.

[280:5] Cf. Assem. t. i. p. 351, not. 4, t. 3, p. 393.

[280:6] Baron. Ann. 432, 47.

[280:7] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 36.

[281:1] Baron. Ann. 471, 18.

[281:2] Vict. Vit. iv. 4.

[281:3] Vict. Vit. ii. 3-15.

[282:1] Aguirr. Conc. t. 2, p. 262.

[282:2] Aguirr. ibid. p. 232.

[282:3] Theod. Hist. v. 2.

[282:4] c. Ruff. i. 4.

[283:1] Ep. 15.

[283:2] Ep. 16.

[284:1] Aug. Epp. 43. 7.

[286:1] Assem. iii. p. 68.

[287:1] Ibid. t. 3, p. 84, note 3.

[287:2] Wegnern, Proleg. in Theod. Opp. p. ix.

[287:3] De Ephrem Syr. p. 61.

[288:1] Lengerke, de Ephrem Syr. pp. 73-75.

[289:1] δεσπότου, vid. La Croze, Thesaur. Ep. t. 3, § 145.

[289:2] Montf. Coll. Nov. t. 2, p. 227.

[290:1] Rosenmuller, Hist. Interpr. t. 3, p. 278.

[290:2] Lengerke, de Ephr. Syr. pp. 165-167.

[290:3] Ernest. de Proph. Mess. p. 462.

[291:1] Eccl. Theol. iii. 12.

[291:2] Professor Lee's Serm. Oct. 1838, pp. 144-152.

[291:3] Noris. Opp. t. 2, p. 112.

[291:4] Augusti. Euseb. Em. Opp.

[291:5] Asseman. Bibl. Or. p. cmxxv.

[291:6] Hoffman, Gram. Syr. Proleg. § 4.

[291:7] The educated Persians were also acquainted with Syriac. Assem.
t. i. p. 351, not.

[292:1] Asseman., p. lxx.

[292:2] Euseb. Præp. vi. 10.

[292:3] Tillemont, Mem. t. 7, p. 77.

[293:1] Gibbon, ch. 47.

[294:1] Asseman. p. lxxviii.

[294:2] Gibbon, ibid.

[294:3] Asseman. t. 2, p. 403, t. 3, p. 393.

[295:1] Asseman. t. 3, p. 67.

[296:1] Gibbon, ibid.

[296:2] Assem. p. lxxvi.

[296:3] Ibid. t. 3, p. 441.

[297:1] Ch. 47.

[298:1] Fleur. Hist. xxvii. 29.

[299:1] Gibbon, ch. 47.

[300:1] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 127.

[301:1] Petav. de Incarn. iv. 6, § 4.

[301:2] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 168.

[301:3] Vid. the Author's Athan. trans. [ed. 1881, vol. ii. pp. 331-333,
426-429, and on the general subject his Theol. Tracts, art. v.]

[302:1] Fleury, Oxf. tr. xxvii. 39.

[302:2] Ibid. 41. In like manner, St. Athanasius in the foregoing age
had said, "The faith confessed at Nicæa by the Fathers, according to the
Scriptures, is sufficient for the overthrow of all misbelief." ad Epict.
init. Elsewhere, however, he explains his statement, "The decrees of
Nicæa are right and sufficient for the overthrow of all heresy,
_especially_ the Arian," ad. Max. fin. St. Gregory Nazianzen, in like
manner, appeals to Nicæa; but he "adds an explanation on the doctrine of
the Holy Spirit which was left deficient by the Fathers, because the
question had not then been raised." Ep. 102, init. This exclusive
maintenance, and yet extension of the Creed, according to the exigences
of the times, is instanced in other Fathers. Vid. Athan. tr. [ed. 1881,
vol. ii. p. 82.]

[303:1] Fleury, ibid. 27.

[304:1] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 141. [A negative is omitted in the Greek,
but inserted in the Latin.]

[304:2] Supr. p. 245.

[304:3] Ad Const. ii. 9. Vid. Athan. tr. [ed. 1881, vol. ii. p. 261.]

[305:1] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 162.

[307:1] Fleury, Hist. Oxf. tr. xxvii. 37.

[307:2] Ep. 116.

[307:3] Conc. Hard. t. 2, p. 36.

[308:1] Ep. 43.

[308:2] Fleury, Hist. Oxf. tr. xxviii. 17, note _l_.

[308:3] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 68.

[308:4] Fleury, Oxf. tr. xxviii. 2, 3.

[310:1] Ibid. 20.

[311:1] Conc. Hard. t. 2, p. 656.

[312:1] [Can any so grave an _ex parte_ charge as this be urged against
the recent Vatican Council?]

[313:1] I cannot find my reference for this fact; the sketch is formed
from notes made some years since, though I have now verified them.

[313:2] Leont. de Sect. v. p. 512.

[313:3] Concil. Hard. t. 2, p. 99, vid. also p. 418.

[313:4] Renaud. Patr. Alex. p. 115.

[313:5] Assem. t. 2, pp. 133-137.

[315:1] Leont. de Sect. vii. pp. 521, 2.

[315:2] Fac. i. 5, circ. init.

[315:3] Hodeg. 20, p. 319.

[317:1] _i. e._ Arianism in the East: "Sanctiores aures plebis quam
corda sunt sacerdotum." S. Hil. contr. Auxent. 6. It requires some
research to account for its hold on the barbarians. Vid. _supr._ pp.
274, 5.

[317:2] Gibbon, ch. 47.

[317:3] Assem. t. 2, de Monoph. circ. fin.

[318:1] Leont. Sect. v. init.

[318:2] Tillemont, t. 15, p. 784.

[319:1] Tillemont, Mem. t. 15, pp. 790-811.

[320:1] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 36, fin.

[321:1] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 36, fin.

[321:2] Gibbon, Hist. ch. 47.

[322:1] [The above sketch has run to great length, yet it is only part
of what might be set down in evidence of the wonderful identity of type
which characterizes the Catholic Church from first to last. I have
confined myself for the most part to her political aspect; but a
parallel illustration might be drawn simply from her doctrinal, or from
her devotional. As to her devotional aspect, Cardinal Wiseman has shown
its identity in the fifth compared with the nineteenth century, in an
article of the _Dublin Review_, quoted in part in _Via Media_, vol. ii.
p. 378. Indeed it is confessed on all hands, as by Middleton, Gibbon,
&c., that from the time of Constantine to their own, the system and the
phenomena of worship in Christendom, from Moscow to Spain, and from
Ireland to Chili, is one and the same. I have myself paralleled Medieval
Europe with modern Belgium or Italy, in point of ethical character in
"Difficulties of Anglicans," vol. i. Lecture ix., referring the identity
to the operation of a principle, insisted on presently, the Supremacy of
Faith. And so again, as to the system of Catholic doctrine, the type of
the Religion remains the same, because it has developed according to the
"analogy of faith," as is observed in _Apol._, p. 196, "The idea of the
Blessed Virgin was, as it were, _magnified_ in the Church of Rome, as
time went on, but so were _all_ the Christian ideas, as that of the
Blessed Eucharist," &c.]




It appears then that there has been a certain general type of
Christianity in every age, by which it is known at first sight,
differing from itself only as what is young differs from what is mature,
or as found in Europe or in America, so that it is named at once and
without hesitation, as forms of nature are recognized by experts in
physical science; or as some work of literature or art is assigned to
its right author by the critic, difficult as may be the analysis of that
specific impression by which he is enabled to do so. And it appears that
this type has remained entire from first to last, in spite of that
process of development which seems to be attributed by all parties, for
good or bad, to the doctrines, rites, and usages in which Christianity
consists; or, in other words, that the changes which have taken place in
Christianity have not been such as to destroy that type,--that is, that
they are not corruptions, because they are consistent with that type.
Here then, in the _preservation of type_, we have a first Note of the
fidelity of the existing developments of Christianity. Let us now
proceed to a second.

§ 1. _The Principles of Christianity._

When developments in Christianity are spoken of, it is sometimes
supposed that they are deductions and diversions made at random,
according to accident or the caprice of individuals; whereas it is
because they have been conducted all along on definite and continuous
principles that the type of the Religion has remained from first to last
unalterable. What then are the principles under which the developments
have been made? I will enumerate some obvious ones.


They must be many and positive, as well as obvious, if they are to be
effective; thus the Society of Friends seems in the course of years to
have changed its type in consequence of its scarcity of principles, a
fanatical spiritualism and an intense secularity, types simply contrary
to each other, being alike consistent with its main principle, "Forms of
worship are Antichristian." Christianity, on the other hand, has
principles so distinctive, numerous, various, and operative, as to be
unlike any other religious, ethical, or political system that the world
has ever seen, unlike, not only in character, but in persistence in that
character. I cannot attempt here to enumerate more than a few by way of


For the convenience of arrangement, I will consider the Incarnation the
central truth of the gospel, and the source whence we are to draw out
its principles. This great doctrine is unequivocally announced in
numberless passages of the New Testament, especially by St. John and St.
Paul; as is familiar to us all: "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among
us, full of grace and truth." "That which was from the beginning, which
we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, that declare we
to you." "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though
he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His
poverty might be rich." "Not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life
which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me."


In such passages as these we have

1. The principle of _dogma_, that is, supernatural truths irrevocably
committed to human language, imperfect because it is human, but
definitive and necessary because given from above.

2. The principal of _faith_, which is the correlative of dogma, being
the absolute acceptance of the divine Word with an internal assent, in
opposition to the informations, if such, of sight and reason.

3. Faith, being an act of the intellect, opens a way for inquiry,
comparison and inference, that is, for science in religion, in
subservience to itself; this is the principle of _theology_.

4. The doctrine of the Incarnation is the announcement of a divine gift
conveyed in a material and visible medium, it being thus that heaven and
earth are in the Incarnation united. That is, it establishes in the very
idea of Christianity the _sacramental_ principle as its characteristic.

5. Another principle involved in the doctrine of the Incarnation, viewed
as taught or as dogmatic, is the necessary use of language, e. g. of the
text of Scripture, in a second or _mystical sense_. Words must be made
to express new ideas, and are invested with a sacramental office.

6. It is our Lord's intention in His Incarnation to make us what He is
Himself; this is the principle of _grace_, which is not only holy but

7. It cannot elevate and change us without mortifying our lower
nature:--here is the principle of _asceticism_.

8. And, involved in this death of the natural man, is necessarily a
revelation of the _malignity of sin_, in corroboration of the
forebodings of conscience.

9. Also by the fact of an Incarnation we are taught that matter is an
essential part of us, and, as well as mind, is _capable of


Here are nine specimens of Christian principles out of the many[326:1]
which might be enumerated, and will any one say that they have not been
retained in vigorous action in the Church at all times amid whatever
development of doctrine Christianity has experienced, so as even to be
the very instruments of that development, and as patent, and as
operative, in the Latin and Greek Christianity of this day as they were
in the beginning?

This continuous identity of principles in ecclesiastical action has been
seen in part in treating of the Note of Unity of type, and will be seen
also in the Notes which follow; however, as some direct account of them,
in illustration, may be desirable, I will single out four as
specimens,--Faith, Theology, Scripture, and Dogma.

§ 2. _Supremacy of Faith._

This principle which, as we have already seen, was so great a jest to
Celsus and Julian, is of the following kind:--That belief in
Christianity is in itself better than unbelief; that faith, though an
intellectual action, is ethical in its origin; that it is safer to
believe; that we must begin with believing; that as for the reasons of
believing, they are for the most part implicit, and need be but slightly
recognized by the mind that is under their influence; that they consist
moreover rather of presumptions and ventures after the truth than of
accurate and complete proofs; and that probable arguments, under the
scrutiny and sanction of a prudent judgment, are sufficient for
conclusions which we even embrace as most certain, and turn to the most
important uses.


Antagonistic to this is the principle that doctrines are only so far to
be considered true as they are logically demonstrated. This is the
assertion of Locke, who says in defence of it,--"Whatever God hath
revealed is certainly true; no doubt can be made of it. This is the
proper object of Faith; but, whether it be a divine revelation or no,
reason must judge." Now, if he merely means that proofs can be given for
Revelation, and that Reason comes in logical order before Faith, such a
doctrine is in no sense uncatholic; but he certainly holds that for an
individual to act on Faith without proof, or to make Faith a personal
principle of conduct for themselves, without waiting till they have got
their reasons accurately drawn out and serviceable for controversy, is
enthusiastic and absurd. "How a man may know whether he be [a lover of
truth for truth's sake] is worth inquiry; and I think there is this one
unerring mark of it, viz. the not entertaining any proposition with
greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon, will warrant.
Whoever goes beyond this measure of assent, it is plain, receives not
truth in the love of it; loves not truth for truth's sake, but for some
other by-end."


It does not seem to have struck him that our "by-end" may be the desire
to please our Maker, and that the defect of scientific proof may be made
up to our reason by our love of Him. It does not seem to have struck him
that such a philosophy as his cut off from the possibility and the
privilege of faith all but the educated few, all but the learned, the
clear-headed, the men of practised intellects and balanced minds, men
who had leisure, who had opportunities of consulting others, and kind
and wise friends to whom they deferred. How could a religion ever be
Catholic, if it was to be called credulity or enthusiasm in the
multitude to use those ready instruments of belief, which alone
Providence had put into their power? On such philosophy as this, were it
generally received, no great work ever would have been done for God's
glory and the welfare of man. The "enthusiasm" against which Locke
writes may do much harm, and act at times absurdly; but calculation
never made a hero. However, it is not to our present purpose to examine
this theory, and I have done so elsewhere.[328:1] Here I have but to
show the unanimity of Catholics, ancient as well as modern, in their
absolute rejection of it.


For instance, it is the very objection urged by Celsus, that Christians
were but parallel to the credulous victims of jugglers or of devotees,
who itinerated through the pagan population. He says "that some do not
even wish to give or to receive a reason for their faith, but say, 'Do
not inquire but believe,' and 'Thy faith will save thee;' and 'A bad
thing is the world's wisdom, and foolishness is a good.'" How does
Origen answer the charge? by denying the fact, and speaking of the
reason of each individual as demonstrating the divinity of the
Scriptures, and Faith as coming after that argumentative process, as it
is now popular to maintain? Far from it; he grants the fact alleged
against the Church and defends it. He observes that, considering the
engagements and the necessary ignorance of the multitude of men, it is a
very happy circumstance that a substitute is provided for those
philosophical exercises, which Christianity allows and encourages, but
does not impose on the individual. "Which," he asks, "is the better, for
them to believe without reason, and thus to reform any how and gain a
benefit, from their belief in the punishment of sinners and the reward
of well-doers, or to refuse to be converted on mere belief, or except
they devote themselves to an intellectual inquiry?"[329:1] Such a
provision then is a mark of divine wisdom and mercy. In like manner, St.
Irenæus, after observing that the Jews had the evidence of prophecy,
which the Gentiles had not, and that to the latter it was a foreign
teaching and a new doctrine to be told that the gods of the Gentiles
were not only not gods, but were idols of devils, and that in
consequence St. Paul laboured more upon them, as needing it more, adds,
"On the other hand, the faith of the Gentiles is thereby shown to be
more generous, who followed the word of God without the assistance of
Scriptures." To believe on less evidence was generous faith, not
enthusiasm. And so again, Eusebius, while he contends of course that
Christians are influenced by "no irrational faith," that is, by a faith
which is capable of a logical basis, fully allows that in the individual
believing, it is not necessarily or ordinarily based upon argument, and
maintains that it is connected with that very "hope," and inclusively
with that desire of the things beloved, which Locke in the above
extract considers incompatible with the love of truth. "What do we
find," he says, "but that the whole life of man is suspended on these
two, hope and faith?"[330:1]

I do not mean of course that the Fathers were opposed to inquiries into
the intellectual basis of Christianity, but that they held that men were
not obliged to wait for logical proof before believing: on the contrary,
that the majority were to believe first on presumptions and let the
intellectual proof come as their reward.[330:2]


St. Augustine, who had tried both ways, strikingly contrasts them in his
_De Utilitate credendi_, though his direct object in that work is to
decide, not between Reason and Faith, but between Reason and Authority.
He addresses in it a very dear friend, who, like himself, had become a
Manichee, but who, with less happiness than his own, was still retained
in the heresy. "The Manichees," he observes, "inveigh against those who,
following the authority of the Catholic faith, fortify themselves in the
first instance with believing, and before they are able to set eyes upon
that truth, which is discerned by the pure soul, prepare themselves for
a God who shall illuminate. You, Honoratus, know that nothing else was
the cause of my falling into their hands, than their professing to put
away Authority which was so terrible, and by absolute and simple Reason
to lead their hearers to God's presence, and to rid them of all error.
For what was there else that forced me, for nearly nine years, to slight
the religion which was sown in me when a child by my parents, and to
follow them and diligently attend their lectures, but their assertion
that I was terrified by superstition, and was bidden to have Faith
before I had Reason, whereas they pressed no one to believe before the
truth had been discussed and unravelled? Who would not be seduced by
these promises, and especially a youth, such as they found me then,
desirous of truth, nay conceited and forward, by reason of the
disputations of certain men of school learning, with a contempt of
old-wives' tales, and a desire of possessing and drinking that clear and
unmixed truth which they promised me?"[331:1]

Presently he goes on to describe how he was reclaimed. He found the
Manichees more successful in pulling down than in building up; he was
disappointed in Faustus, whom he found eloquent and nothing besides.
Upon this, he did not know what to hold, and was tempted to a general
scepticism. At length he found he must be guided by Authority; then came
the question, Which authority among so many teachers? He cried earnestly
to God for help, and at last was led to the Catholic Church. He then
returns to the question urged against that Church, that "she bids those
who come to her believe," whereas heretics "boast that they do not
impose a yoke of believing, but open a fountain of teaching." On which
he observes, "True religion cannot in any manner be rightly embraced,
without a belief in those things which each individual afterwards
attains and perceives, if he behave himself well and shall deserve it,
nor altogether without some weighty and imperative Authority."[331:2]


These are specimens of the teaching of the Ancient Church on the subject
of Faith and Reason; if, on the other hand, we would know what has been
taught on the subject in those modern schools, in and through which the
subsequent developments of Catholic doctrines have proceeded, we may
turn to the extracts made from their writings by Huet, in his "Essay on
the Human Understanding;" and, in so doing, we need not perplex
ourselves with the particular theory, true or not, for the sake of which
he has collected them. Speaking of the weakness of the Understanding,
Huet says,--

"God, by His goodness, repairs this defect of human nature, by granting
us the inestimable gift of Faith, which confirms our staggering Reason,
and corrects that perplexity of doubts which we must bring to the
knowledge of things. For example: my reason not being able to inform me
with absolute evidence, and perfect certainty, whether there are bodies,
what was the origin of the world, and many other like things, after I
had received the Faith, all those doubts vanish, as darkness at the
rising of the sun. This made St. Thomas Aquinas say: 'It is necessary
for man to receive as articles of Faith, not only the things which are
above Reason, but even those that for their certainty may be known by
Reason. For human Reason is very deficient in things divine; a sign of
which we have from philosophers, who, in the search of human things by
natural methods, have been deceived, and opposed each other on many
heads. To the end then that men may have a certain and undoubted
cognizance of God, it was necessary things divine should be taught them
by way of Faith, as being revealed of God Himself, who cannot
lie.'[332:1] . . . . .

"Then St. Thomas adds afterwards: 'No search by natural Reason is
sufficient to make man know things divine, nor even those which we can
prove by Reason.' And in another place he speaks thus: 'Things which may
be proved demonstratively, as the Being of God, the Unity of the
Godhead, and other points, are placed among articles we are to believe,
because previous to other things that are of Faith; and these must be
presupposed, at least by such as have no demonstration of them.


"What St. Thomas says of the cognizance of divine things extends also to
the knowledge of human, according to the doctrine of Suarez. 'We often
correct,' he says, 'the light of Nature by the light of Faith, even in
things which seem to be first principles, as appears in this: those
things that are the same to a third, are the same between themselves;
which, if we have respect to the Trinity, ought to be restrained to
finite things. And in other mysteries, especially in those of the
Incarnation and the Eucharist, we use many other limitations, that
nothing may be repugnant to the Faith. This is then an indication that
the light of Faith is most certain, because founded on the first
truth, which is God, to whom it's more impossible to deceive or be
deceived than for the natural science of man to be mistaken and
erroneous.'[333:1] . . . .

"If we hearken not to Reason, say you, you overthrow that great
foundation of Religion which Reason has established in our
understanding, viz. God is. To answer this objection, you must be told
that men know God in two manners. By Reason, with entire human
certainty; and by Faith, with absolute and divine certainty. Although by
Reason we cannot acquire any knowledge more certain than that of the
Being of God; insomuch that all the arguments, which the impious oppose
to this knowledge are of no validity and easily refuted; nevertheless
this certainty is not absolutely perfect[333:2] . . . . .


"Now although, to prove the existence of the Deity, we can bring
arguments which, accumulated and connected together, are not of less
power to convince men than geometrical principles, and theorems deduced
from them, and which are of entire human certainty, notwithstanding,
because learned philosophers have openly opposed even these principles,
'tis clear we cannot, neither in the natural knowledge we have of God,
which is acquired by Reason, nor in science founded on geometrical
principles and theorems, find absolute and consummate certainty, but
only that human certainty I have spoken of, to which nevertheless every
wise man ought to submit his understanding. This being not repugnant to
the testimony of the Book of Wisdom and the Epistle to the Romans, which
declares that men who do not from the make of the world acknowledge the
power and divinity of the Maker are senseless and inexcusable.

"For to use the terms of Vasquez: 'By these words the Holy Scripture
means only that there has ever been a sufficient testimony of the Being
of a God in the fabrick of the world, and in His other works, to make
Him known unto men: but the Scripture is not under any concern whether
this knowledge be evident or of greatest probability; for these terms
are seen and understood, in their common and usual acceptation, to
signify all the knowledge of the mind with a determined assent.' He adds
after: 'For if any one should at this time deny Christ, that which would
render him inexcusable would not be because he might have had an evident
knowledge and reason for believing Him, but because he might have
believed it by Faith and a prudential knowledge.'

"'Tis with reason then that Suarez teaches that 'the natural evidence of
this principle, God is the first truth, who cannot be deceived, is not
necessary, nor sufficient enough to make us believe by infused Faith,
what God reveals.' He proves, by the testimony of experience, that it is
not necessary; for ignorant and illiterate Christians, though they know
nothing clearly and certainly of God, do believe nevertheless that God
is. Even Christians of parts and learning, as St. Thomas has observed,
believe that God is, before they know it by Reason. Suarez shows
afterwards that the natural evidence of this principle is not
sufficient, because divine Faith, which is infused into our
understanding, cannot be bottomed upon human faith alone, how clear and
firm soever it is, as upon a formal object, because an assent most firm,
and of an order most noble and exalted, cannot derive its certainty from
a more infirm assent.[335:1] . . . .


"As touching the motives of credibility, which, preparing the mind to
receive Faith, ought according to you to be not only certain by supreme
and human certainty, but by supreme and absolute certainty, I will
oppose Gabriel Biel to you, who pronounces that to receive Faith 'tis
sufficient that the motives of credibility be proposed as probable. Do
you believe that children, illiterate, gross, ignorant people, who have
scarcely the use of Reason, and notwithstanding have received the gift
of Faith, do most clearly and most steadfastly conceive those
forementioned motives of credibility? No, without doubt; but the grace
of God comes in to their assistance, and sustains the imbecility of
Nature and Reason.

"This is the common opinion of divines. Reason has need of divine grace,
not only in gross, illiterate persons, but even in those of parts and
learning; for how clear-sighted soever that may be, yet it cannot make
us have Faith, if celestial light does not illuminate us within,
because, as I have said already, divine Faith being of a superior order
cannot derive its efficacy from human faith."[336:1] "This is likewise
the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas: 'The light of Faith makes things
seen that are believed.' He says moreover, 'Believers have knowledge of
the things of Faith, not in a demonstrative way, but so as by the light
of Faith it appears to them that they ought to be believed.'"[336:2]


It is evident what a special influence such doctrine as this must exert
upon the theological method of those who hold it. Arguments will come to
be considered as suggestions and guides rather than logical proofs; and
developments as the slow, spontaneous, ethical growth, not the
scientific and compulsory results, of existing opinions.

§ 3. _Theology._

I have spoken and have still to speak of the action of logic, implicit
and explicit, as a safeguard, and thereby a note, of legitimate
developments of doctrine: but I am regarding it here as that continuous
tradition and habit in the Church of a scientific analysis of all
revealed truth, which is an ecclesiastical principle rather than a note
of any kind, as not merely bearing upon the process of development, but
applying to all religious teaching equally, and which is almost unknown
beyond the pale of Christendom. Reason, thus considered, is subservient
to faith, as handling, examining, explaining, recording, cataloguing,
defending, the truths which faith, not reason, has gained for us, as
providing an intellectual expression of supernatural facts, eliciting
what is implicit, comparing, measuring, connecting each with each, and
forming one and all into a theological system.


The first step in theology is investigation, an investigation arising
out of the lively interest and devout welcome which the matters
investigated claim of us; and, if Scripture teaches us the duty of
faith, it teaches quite as distinctly that loving inquisitiveness which
is the life of the _Schola_. It attributes that temper both to the
Blessed Virgin and to the Angels. The Angels are said to have "desired
to look into the mysteries of Revelation," and it is twice recorded of
Mary that she "kept these things and pondered them in her heart."
Moreover, her words to the Archangel, "How shall this be?" show that
there is a questioning in matters revealed to us compatible with the
fullest and most absolute faith. It has sometimes been said in defence
and commendation of heretics that "their misbelief at least showed that
they had thought upon the subject of religion;" this is an unseemly
paradox,--at the same time there certainly is the opposite extreme of a
readiness to receive any number of dogmas at a minute's warning, which,
when it is witnessed, fairly creates a suspicion that they are merely
professed with the tongue, not intelligently held. Our Lord gives no
countenance to such lightness of mind; He calls on His disciples to use
their reason, and to submit it. Nathanael's question "Can there any good
thing come out of Nazareth?" did not prevent our Lord's praise of him as
"an Israelite without guile." Nor did He blame Nicodemus, except for
want of theological knowledge, on his asking "How can these things be?"
Even towards St. Thomas He was gentle, as if towards one of those who
had "eyes too tremblingly awake to bear with dimness for His sake." In
like manner He praised the centurion when he argued himself into a
confidence of divine help and relief from the analogy of his own
profession; and left his captious enemies to prove for themselves from
the mission of the Baptist His own mission; and asked them "if David
called Him Lord, how was He his Son?" and, when His disciples wished to
have a particular matter taught them, chid them for their want of
"understanding." And these are but some out of the various instances
which He gives us of the same lesson.


Reason has ever been awake and in exercise in the Church after Him from
the first. Scarcely were the Apostles withdrawn from the world, when the
Martyr Ignatius, in his way to the Roman Amphitheatre, wrote his
strikingly theological Epistles; he was followed by Irenæus, Hippolytus,
and Tertullian; thus we are brought to the age of Athanasius and his
contemporaries, and to Augustine. Then we pass on by Maximus and John
Damascene to the Middle age, when theology was made still more
scientific by the Schoolmen; nor has it become less so, by passing on
from St. Thomas to the great Jesuit writers Suarez and Vasquez, and then
to Lambertini.

§ 4. _Scripture and its Mystical Interpretation._

Several passages have occurred in the foregoing Chapters, which serve to
suggest another principle on which some words are now to be said.
Theodore's exclusive adoption of the literal, and repudiation of the
mystical interpretation of Holy Scripture, leads to the consideration of
the latter, as one of the characteristic conditions or principles on
which the teaching of the Church has ever proceeded. Thus Christianity
developed, as we have incidentally seen, into the form, first, of a
Catholic, then of a Papal Church. Now it was Scripture that was made the
rule on which this development proceeded in each case, and Scripture
moreover interpreted in a mystical sense; and, whereas at first certain
texts were inconsistently confined to the letter, and a Millennium was
in consequence expected, the very course of events, as time went on,
interpreted the prophecies about the Church more truly, and that first
in respect of her prerogative as occupying the _orbis terrarum_, next in
support of the claims of the See of St. Peter. This is but one specimen
of a certain law of Christian teaching, which is this,--a reference to
Scripture throughout, and especially in its mystical sense.[339:1]


1. This is a characteristic which will become more and more evident to
us, the more we look for it. The divines of the Church are in every age
engaged in regulating themselves by Scripture, appealing to Scripture in
proof of their conclusions, and exhorting and teaching in the thoughts
and language of Scripture. Scripture may be said to be the medium in
which the mind of the Church has energized and developed.[339:2] When
St. Methodius would enforce the doctrine of vows of celibacy, he refers
to the book of Numbers; and if St. Irenæus proclaims the dignity of St.
Mary, it is from a comparison of St. Luke's Gospel with Genesis. And
thus St. Cyprian, in his Testimonies, rests the prerogatives of
martyrdom, as indeed the whole circle of Christian doctrine, on the
declaration of certain texts; and, when in his letter to Antonian he
seems to allude to Purgatory, he refers to our Lord's words about "the
prison" and "paying the last farthing." And if St. Ignatius exhorts to
unity, it is from St. Paul; and he quotes St. Luke against the
Phantasiasts of his day. We have a first instance of this law in the
Epistle of St. Polycarp, and a last in the practical works of St.
Alphonso Liguori. St. Cyprian, or St. Ambrose, or St. Bede, or St.
Bernard, or St. Carlo, or such popular books as Horstius's _Paradisus
Animæ_, are specimens of a rule which is too obvious to need formal
proof. It is exemplified in the theological decisions of St. Athanasius
in the fourth century, and of St. Thomas in the thirteenth; in the
structure of the Canon Law, and in the Bulls and Letters of Popes. It is
instanced in the notion so long prevalent in the Church, which
philosophers of this day do not allow us to forget, that all truth, all
science, must be derived from the inspired volume. And it is recognized
as well as exemplified; recognized as distinctly by writers of the
Society of Jesus, as it is copiously exemplified by the Ante-nicene


"Scriptures are called canonical," says Salmeron, "as having been
received and set apart by the Church into the Canon of sacred books, and
because they are to us a rule of right belief and good living; also
because they ought to rule and moderate all other doctrines, laws,
writings, whether ecclesiastical, apocryphal, or human. For as these
agree with them, or at least do not disagree, so far are they admitted;
but they are repudiated and reprobated so far as they differ from them
even in the least matter."[340:1] Again: "The main subject of Scripture
is nothing else than to treat of the God-Man, or the Man-God, Christ
Jesus, not only in the New Testament, which is open, but in the
Old. . . . . . . For whereas Scripture contains nothing but the precepts
of belief and conduct, or faith and works, the end and the means towards
it, the Creator and the creature, love of God and our neighbour,
creation and redemption, and whereas all these are found in Christ, it
follows that Christ is the proper subject of Canonical Scripture. For
all matters of faith, whether concerning Creator or creatures, are
recapitulated in Jesus, whom every heresy denies, according to that
text, 'Every spirit that divides (_solvit_) Jesus is not of God;' for He
as man is united to the Godhead, and as God to the manhood, to the
Father from whom He is born, to the Holy Ghost who proceeds at once from
Christ and the Father, to Mary his most Holy Mother, to the Church, to
Scriptures, Sacraments, Saints, Angels, the Blessed, to Divine Grace, to
the authority and ministers of the Church, so that it is rightly said
that every heresy divides Jesus."[341:1] And again: "Holy Scripture is
so fashioned and composed by the Holy Ghost as to be accommodated to all
plans, times, persons, difficulties, dangers, diseases, the expulsion of
evil, the obtaining of good, the stifling of errors, the establishment
of doctrines, the ingrafting of virtues, the averting of vices. Hence it
is deservedly compared by St. Basil to a dispensary which supplies
various medicines against every complaint. From it did the Church in the
age of Martyrs draw her firmness and fortitude; in the age of Doctors,
her wisdom and light of knowledge; in the time of heretics, the
overthrow of error; in time of prosperity, humility and moderation;
fervour and diligence, in a lukewarm time; and in times of depravity and
growing abuse, reformation from corrupt living and return to the first


"Holy Scripture," says Cornelius à Lapide, "contains the beginnings of
all theology: for theology is nothing but the science of conclusions
which are drawn from principles certain to faith, and therefore is of
all sciences most august as well as certain; but the principles of faith
and faith itself doth Scripture contain; whence it evidently follows
that Holy Scripture lays down those principles of theology by which the
theologian begets of the mind's reasoning his demonstrations. He, then,
who thinks he can tear away Scholastic Science from the work of
commenting on Holy Scripture is hoping for offspring without a
mother."[342:1] Again: "What is the subject-matter of Scripture? Must I
say it in a word? Its aim is _de omni scibili_; it embraces in its bosom
all studies, all that can be known: and thus it is a certain university
of sciences containing all sciences either 'formally' or

Nor am I aware that later Post-tridentine writers deny that the whole
Catholic faith may be proved from Scripture, though they would certainly
maintain that it is not to be found on the surface of it, nor in such
sense that it may be gained from Scripture without the aid of Tradition.


2. And this has been the doctrine of all ages of the Church, as is shown
by the disinclination of her teachers to confine themselves to the mere
literal interpretation of Scripture. Her most subtle and powerful method
of proof, whether in ancient or modern times, is the mystical sense,
which is so frequently used in doctrinal controversy as on many
occasions to supersede any other. Thus the Council of Trent appeals to
the peace-offering spoken of in Malachi in proof of the Eucharistic
Sacrifice; to the water and blood issuing from our Lord's side, and to
the mention of "waters" in the Apocalypse, in admonishing on the subject
of the mixture of water with the wine in the Oblation. Thus Bellarmine
defends Monastic celibacy by our Lord's words in Matthew xix., and
refers to "We went through fire and water," &c., in the Psalm, as an
argument for Purgatory; and these, as is plain, are but specimens of a
rule. Now, on turning to primitive controversy, we find this method of
interpretation to be the very basis of the proof of the Catholic
doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Whether we betake ourselves to the
Ante-nicene writers or the Nicene, certain texts will meet us, which do
not obviously refer to that doctrine, yet are put forward as palmary
proofs of it. Such are, in respect of our Lord's divinity, "My heart is
inditing of a good matter," or "has burst forth with a good Word;" "The
Lord made" or "possessed Me in the beginning of His ways;" "I was with
Him, in whom He delighted;" "In Thy Light shall we see Light;" "Who
shall declare His generation?" "She is the Breath of the Power of God;"
and "His Eternal Power and Godhead."

On the other hand, the School of Antioch, which adopted the literal
interpretation, was, as I have noticed above, the very metropolis of
heresy. Not to speak of Lucian, whose history is but imperfectly known,
(one of the first masters of this school, and also teacher of Arius and
his principal supporters), Diodorus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who were
the most eminent masters of literalism in the succeeding generation,
were, as we have seen, the forerunners of Nestorianism. The case had
been the same in a still earlier age;--the Jews clung to the literal
sense of the Scriptures and hence rejected the Gospel; the Christian
Apologists proved its divinity by means of the allegorical. The formal
connexion of this mode of interpretation with Christian theology is
noticed by Porphyry, who speaks of Origen and others as borrowing it
from heathen philosophy, both in explanation of the Old Testament and in
defence of their own doctrine. It may be almost laid down as an
historical fact, that the mystical interpretation and orthodoxy will
stand or fall together.


This is clearly seen, as regards the primitive theology, by a recent
writer, in the course of a Dissertation upon St. Ephrem. After observing
that Theodore of Heraclea, Eusebius, and Diodorus gave a systematic
opposition to the mystical interpretation, which had a sort of sanction
from Antiquity and the orthodox Church, he proceeds; "Ephrem is not as
sober in his interpretations, _nor could it be, since_ he was a zealous
disciple of the orthodox faith. For all those who are most eminent in
such sobriety were as far as possible removed from the faith of the
Councils. . . . . On the other hand, all who retained the faith of
the Church never entirely dispensed with the spiritual sense of the
Scriptures. For the Councils watched over the orthodox faith; nor was it
safe in those ages, as we learn especially from the instance of Theodore
of Mopsuestia, to desert the spiritual for an exclusive cultivation of
the literal method. Moreover, the allegorical interpretation, even when
the literal sense was not injured, was also preserved; because in those
times, when both heretics and Jews in controversy were stubborn in their
objections to Christian doctrine, maintaining that the Messiah was yet
to come, or denying the abrogation of the Sabbath and ceremonial law, or
ridiculing the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and especially that of
Christ's Divine Nature, under such circumstances ecclesiastical
writers found it to their purpose, in answer to such exceptions,
violently to refer every part of Scripture by allegory to Christ and
His Church."[345:1]


With this passage from a learned German, illustrating the bearing of the
allegorical method upon the Judaic and Athanasian controversies, it will
be well to compare the following passage from the latitudinarian Hale's
"Golden Remains," as directed against the theology of Rome. "The
literal, plain, and uncontroversible meaning of Scripture," he says,
"without any addition or supply by way of interpretation, is that alone
which for ground of faith we are necessarily bound to accept; except it
be there, where the Holy Ghost Himself treads us out another way. I take
not this to be any particular conceit of mine, but that unto which our
Church stands necessarily bound. When we receded from the Church of
Rome, one motive was, because she added unto Scripture her glosses as
Canonical, to supply what the plain text of Scripture could not yield.
If, in place of hers, we set up our own glosses, thus to do were nothing
else but to pull down Baal, and set up an Ephod, to run round and meet
the Church of Rome again in the same point in which at first we left
her. . . . This doctrine of the literal sense was never grievous or
prejudicial to any, but only to those who were inwardly conscious that
their positions were not sufficiently grounded. When Cardinal Cajetan,
in the days of our grandfathers, had forsaken that vein of postilling
and allegorizing on Scripture, which for a long time had prevailed in
the Church, and betaken himself unto the literal sense, it was a thing
so distasteful unto the Church of Rome that he was forced to find out
many shifts and make many apologies for himself. The truth is (as it
will appear to him that reads his writings), this sticking close to the
literal sense was that alone which made him to shake off many of those
tenets upon which the Church of Rome and the reformed Churches differ.
But when the importunity of the Reformers, and the great credit of
Calvin's writings in that kind, had forced the divines of Rome to level
their interpretations by the same line; when they saw that no pains, no
subtlety of wit was strong enough to defeat the literal evidence of
Scripture, it drove them on those desperate shoals, on which at this day
they stick, to call in question, as far as they durst, the credit of the
Hebrew text, and countenance against it a corrupt translation; to add
traditions unto Scripture, and to make the Church's interpretation, so
pretended, to be above exception."[346:1]


He presently adds concerning the allegorical sense: "If we absolutely
condemn these interpretations, then must we condemn a great part of
Antiquity, who are very much conversant in this kind of interpreting.
For the most partial for Antiquity cannot choose but see and confess
thus much, that for the literal sense, the interpreters of our own
times, because of their skill in the original languages, their care of
pressing the circumstances and coherence of the text, of comparing like
places of Scripture with like, have generally surpassed the best of the

The use of Scripture then, especially its spiritual or second sense, as
a medium of thought and deduction, is a characteristic principle of
doctrinal teaching in the Church.

§ 5. _Dogma._

1. That opinions in religion are not matters of indifference, but have a
definite bearing on the position of their holders in the Divine Sight,
is a principle on which the Evangelical Faith has from the first
developed, and on which that Faith has been the first to develope. I
suppose, it hardly had any exercise under the Law; the zeal and
obedience of the ancient people being mainly employed in the maintenance
of divine worship and the overthrow of idolatry, not in the action of
the intellect. Faith is in this, as in other respects, a characteristic
of the Gospel, except so far as it was anticipated, as its time drew
near. Elijah and the prophets down to Ezra resisted Baal or restored the
Temple Service; the Three Children refused to bow down before the golden
image; Daniel would turn his face towards Jerusalem; the Maccabees
spurned the Grecian paganism. On the other hand, the Greek Philosophers
were authoritative indeed in their teaching, enforced the "_Ipse
dixit_," and demanded the faith of their disciples; but they did not
commonly attach sanctity or reality to opinions, or view them in a
religious light. Our Saviour was the first to "bear witness to the
Truth," and to die for it, when "before Pontius Pilate he witnessed a
good confession." St. John and St. Paul, following his example, both
pronounce anathema on those who denied "the Truth" or "brought in
another Gospel." Tradition tells us that the Apostle of love seconded
his word with his deed, and on one occasion hastily quitted a bath
because an heresiarch of the day had entered it. St. Ignatius, his
contemporary, compares false teachers to raging dogs; and St. Polycarp,
his disciple, exercised the same seventy upon Marcion which St. John had
shown towards Cerinthus.


St. Irenæus after St. Polycarp exemplifies the same doctrine: "I saw
thee," he says to the heretic Florinus, "when I was yet a boy, in lower
Asia, with Polycarp, when thou wast living splendidly in the Imperial
Court, and trying to recommend thyself to him. I remember indeed what
then happened better than more recent occurrences, for the lessons of
boyhood grow with the mind and become one with it. Thus I can name the
place where blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, and his goings out and
comings in, and the fashion of his life, and the appearance of his
person, and his discourses to the people, and his familiarity with John,
which he used to tell of, and with the rest who had seen the Lord, and
how he used to repeat their words, and what it was that he had learned
about the Lord from them. . . . And in the sight of God, I can protest,
that, if that blessed and apostolical Elder had heard aught of this
doctrine, he had cried out and stopped his ears, saying after his wont,
'O Good God, for what times hast thou reserved me that I should endure
this?' and he had fled the place where he was sitting or standing when
he heard it." It seems to have been the duty of every individual
Christian from the first to witness in his place against all opinions
which were contrary to what he had received in his baptismal
catechizing, and to shun the society of those who maintained them. "So
religious," says Irenæus after giving his account of St. Polycarp, "were
the Apostles and their disciples, in not even conversing with those who
counterfeited the truth."[348:1]


Such a principle, however, would but have broken up the Church the
sooner, resolving it into the individuals of which it was composed,
unless the Truth, to which they were to bear witness, had been a
something definite, and formal, and independent of themselves.
Christians were bound to defend and to transmit the faith which they had
received, and they received it from the rulers of the Church; and, on
the other hand, it was the duty of those rulers to watch over and define
this traditionary faith. It is unnecessary to go over ground which has
been traversed so often of late years. St. Irenæus brings the subject
before us in his description of St. Polycarp, part of which has already
been quoted; and to it we may limit ourselves. "Polycarp," he says when
writing against the Gnostics, "whom we have seen in our first youth,
ever taught those lessons which he learned from the Apostles, which the
Church also transmits, which alone are true. All the Churches of Asia
bear witness to them; and the successors of Polycarp down to this day,
who is a much more trustworthy and sure witness of truth than
Valentinus, Marcion, or their perverse companions. The same was in Rome
in the time of Anicetus, and converted many of the aforenamed heretics
to the Church of God, preaching that he had received from the Apostles
this one and only truth, which had been transmitted by the


Nor was this the doctrine and practice of one school only, which might
be ignorant of philosophy; the cultivated minds of the Alexandrian
Fathers, who are said to owe so much to Pagan science, certainly showed
no gratitude or reverence towards their alleged instructors, but
maintained the supremacy of Catholic Tradition. Clement[349:2] speaks of
heretical teachers as perverting Scripture, and essaying the gate of
heaven with a false key, not raising the veil, as he and his, by means
of tradition from Christ, but digging through the Church's wall, and
becoming mystagogues of misbelief; "for," he continues, "few words are
enough to prove that they have formed their human assemblies later than
the Catholic Church," and "from that previously existing and most true
Church it is very clear that these later heresies, and others which
have been since, are counterfeit and novel inventions."[350:1] "When the
Marcionites, Valentinians, and the like," says Origen, "appeal to
apocryphal works, they are saying, 'Christ is in the desert;' when to
canonical Scripture, 'Lo, He is in the chambers;' but we must not depart
from that first and ecclesiastical tradition, nor believe otherwise than
as the Churches of God by succession have transmitted to us." And it is
recorded of him in his youth, that he never could be brought to attend
the prayers of a heretic who was in the house of his patroness, from
abomination of his doctrine, "observing," adds Eusebius, "the rule of
the Church." Eusebius too himself, unsatisfactory as is his own
theology, cannot break from this fundamental rule; he ever speaks of the
Gnostic teachers, the chief heretics of his period (at least before the
rise of Arianism), in terms most expressive of abhorrence and disgust.


The African, Syrian, and Asian schools are additional witnesses;
Tertullian at Carthage was strenuous for the dogmatic principle even
after he had given up the traditional. The Fathers of Asia Minor, who
excommunicated Noëtus, rehearse the Creed, and add, "We declare as we
have learned;" the Fathers of Antioch, who depose Paul of Samosata, set
down in writing the Creed from Scripture, "which," they say, "we
received from the beginning, and have, by tradition and in custody, in
the Catholic and Holy Church, until this day, by succession, as preached
by the blessed Apostles, who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the


Moreover, it is as plain, or even plainer, that what the Christians of
the first ages anathematized, included deductions from the Articles of
Faith, that is, false developments, as well as contradictions of those
Articles. And, since the reason they commonly gave for using the
anathema was that the doctrine in question was strange and startling, it
follows that the truth, which was its contradictory, was also in some
respect unknown to them hitherto; which is also shown by their temporary
perplexity, and their difficulty of meeting heresy, in particular cases.
"Who ever heard the like hitherto?" says St. Athanasius, of
Apollinarianism; "who was the teacher of it, who the hearer? 'From Sion
shall go forth the Law of God, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem;'
but from whence hath this gone forth? What hell hath burst out with it?"
The Fathers at Nicæa stopped their ears; and St. Irenæus, as above
quoted, says that St. Polycarp, had he heard the Gnostic blasphemies,
would have stopped his ears, and deplored the times for which he was
reserved. They anathematized the doctrine, not because it was old, but
because it was new: the anathema would have altogether slept, if it
could not have been extended to propositions not anathematized in the
beginning; for the very characteristic of heresy is this novelty and
originality of manifestation.

Such was the exclusiveness of Christianity of old: I need not insist on
the steadiness with which that principle has been maintained ever since,
for bigotry and intolerance is one of the ordinary charges brought at
this day against both the medieval Church and the modern.


The Church's consistency and thoroughness in teaching is another aspect
of the same principle, as is illustrated in the following passage from
M. Guizot's History of Civilization. "The adversaries," he says, "of the
Reformation, knew very well what they were about, and what they
required; they could point to their first principles, and boldly admit
all the consequences that might result from them. No government was ever
more consistent and systematic than that of the Romish Church. In fact,
the Court of Rome was much more accommodating, yielded much more than
the Reformers; but in principle it much more completely adopted its own
system, and maintained a much more consistent conduct. There is an
immense power in this full confidence of what is done; this perfect
knowledge of what is required; this complete and rational adaptation of
a system and a creed." Then he goes on to the history of the Society of
Jesus in illustration. "Everything," he says, "was unfavourable to the
Jesuits, both fortune and appearances; neither practical sense which
requires success, nor the imagination which looks for splendour, were
gratified by their destiny. Still it is certain that they possessed the
elements of greatness; a grand idea is attached to their name, to their
influence, and to their history. Why? because they worked from fixed
principles, which they fully and clearly understood, and the tendency of
which they entirely comprehended. In the Reformation, on the contrary,
when the event surpassed its conception, something incomplete,
inconsequent, and narrow has remained, which has placed the conquerors
themselves in a state of rational and philosophical inferiority, the
influence of which has occasionally been felt in events. The conflict of
the new spiritual order of things against the old, is, I think, the weak
side of the Reformation."[352:1]

§ 6. _Additional Remarks._

Such are some of the intellectual principles which are characteristic of
Christianity. I observe,--

That their continuity down to this day, and the vigour of their
operation, are two distinct guarantees that the theological conclusions
to which they are subservient are, in accordance with the Divine
Promise, true developments, and not corruptions of the Revelation.

Moreover, if it be true that the principles of the later Church are the
same as those of the earlier, then, whatever are the variations of
belief between the two periods, the later in reality agrees more than it
differs with the earlier, for principles are responsible for doctrines.
Hence they who assert that the modern Roman system is the corruption of
primitive theology are forced to discover some difference of principle
between the one and the other; for instance, that the right of private
judgment was secured to the early Church and has been lost to the later,
or, again, that the later Church rationalizes and the earlier went by


On this point I will but remark as follows. It cannot be doubted that
the horror of heresy, the law of absolute obedience to ecclesiastical
authority, and the doctrine of the mystical virtue of unity, were as
strong and active in the Church of St. Ignatius and St. Cyprian as in
that of St. Carlo and St. Pius the Fifth, whatever be thought of the
theology respectively taught in the one and in the other. Now we have
before our eyes the effect of these principles in the instance of the
later Church; they have entirely succeeded in preventing departure from
the doctrine of Trent for three hundred years. Have we any reason for
doubting, that from the same strictness the same fidelity would follow,
in the first three, or any three, centuries of the Ante-tridentine
period? Where then was the opportunity of corruption in the three
hundred years between St. Ignatius and St. Augustine? or between St.
Augustine and St. Bede? or between St. Bede and St. Peter Damiani? or
again, between St. Irenæus and St. Leo, St. Cyprian and St. Gregory the
Great, St. Athanasius and St. John Damascene? Thus the tradition of
eighteen centuries becomes a collection of indefinitely many _catenæ_,
each commencing from its own point, and each crossing the other; and
each year, as it comes, is guaranteed with various degrees of cogency by
every year which has gone before it.


Moreover, while the development of doctrine in the Church has been in
accordance with, or in consequence of these immemorial principles, the
various heresies, which have from time to time arisen, have in one
respect or other, as might be expected, violated those principles with
which she rose into existence, and which she still retains. Thus Arian
and Nestorian schools denied the allegorical rule of Scripture
interpretation; the Gnostics and Eunomians for Faith professed to
substitute knowledge; and the Manichees also, as St. Augustine so
touchingly declares in the beginning of his work _De Utilitate
credendi_. The dogmatic Rule, at least so far as regards its traditional
character, was thrown aside by all those sects which, as Tertullian
tells us, claimed to judge for themselves from Scripture; and the
Sacramental principle was violated, _ipso facto_, by all who separated
from the Church,--was denied also by Faustus the Manichee when he argued
against the Catholic ceremonial, by Vigilantius in his opposition to
relics, and by the Iconoclasts. In like manner the contempt of mystery,
of reverence, of devoutness, of sanctity, are other notes of the
heretical spirit. As to Protestantism it is plain in how many ways it
has reversed the principles of Catholic theology.


[326:1] [E. g. development itself is such a principle also. "And thus I
was led on to a further consideration. I saw that the principle of
development not only accounted for certain facts, but was in itself a
remarkable philosophical phenomenon, giving a character to the whole
course of Christian thought. It was discernible from the first years of
Catholic teaching up to the present day, and gave to that teaching a
unity and individuality. It served as a sort of test, which the Anglican
could not stand, that modern Rome was in truth ancient Antioch,
Alexandria, and Constantinople, just as a mathematical curve has its own
law and expression." _Apol._ p. 198, _vid._ also Angl. Diff. vol. i.
Lect. xii. 7.]

[328:1] University Sermons [but, more carefully in the "Essay on

[329:1] c. Cels. i. 9.

[330:1] Hær. iv. 24. Euseb. Præp. Ev. i. 5.

[330:2] [This is too large a subject to admit of justice being done to
it here: I have treated of it at length in the "Essay on Assent."]

[331:1] Init.

[331:2] _Vid._ also _supr._ p. 256.

[332:1] pp. 142, 143, Combe's tr.

[333:1] pp. 144, 145.

[333:2] p. 219.

[335:1] pp. 221, 223.

[336:1] pp. 229, 230.

[336:2] pp. 230, 231.

[339:1] Vid. Proph. Offic. Lect. xiii. [Via Media, vol. i. p. 309, &c.]

[339:2] A late writer goes farther, and maintains that it is not
determined by the Council of Trent, whether the whole of the Revelation
is in Scripture or not. "The Synod declares that the Christian 'truth
and discipline are contained in written books and unwritten traditions.'
They were well aware that the controversy then was, whether the
Christian doctrine was only _in part_ contained in Scripture. But they
did not dare to frame their decree openly in accordance with the modern
Romish view; they did not venture to affirm, as they might easily have
done, that the Christian verity 'was contained _partly_ in written
books, and _partly_ in unwritten traditions.'"--_Palmer on the Church_,
vol. 2, p. 15. Vid. Difficulties of Angl. vol. ii. pp. 11, 12.

[340:1] Opp. t. 1, p. 4.

[341:1] Opp. t. i. pp. 4, 5.

[341:2] Ibid. p. 9.

[342:1] Proem. 5.

[342:2] p. 4.

[345:1] Lengerke, de Ephr. S. pp. 78-80.

[346:1] pp. 24-26.

[346:2] p. 27.

[348:1] Euseb. Hist. iv. 14, v. 20.

[349:1] Contr. Hær. iii. 3, § 4.

[349:2] Ed. Potter, p. 897.

[350:1] Ed. Potter, p. 899.

[350:2] Clem. Strom. vii. 17. Origen in Matth. Comm. Ser. 46. Euseb.
Hist. vi. 2, fin. Epiph. Hær. 57, p. 480. Routh, t. 2, p. 465.

[352:1] Eur. Civil. pp. 394-398.




Since religious systems, true and false, have one and the same great and
comprehensive subject-matter, they necessarily interfere with one
another as rivals, both in those points in which they agree together,
and in those in which they differ. That Christianity on its rise was in
these circumstances of competition and controversy, is sufficiently
evident even from a foregoing Chapter: it was surrounded by rites,
sects, and philosophies, which contemplated the same questions,
sometimes advocated the same truths, and in no slight degree wore the
same external appearance. It could not stand still, it could not take
its own way, and let them take theirs: they came across its path, and a
conflict was inevitable. The very nature of a true philosophy relatively
to other systems is to be polemical, eclectic, unitive: Christianity was
polemical; it could not but be eclectic; but was it also unitive? Had it
the power, while keeping its own identity, of absorbing its antagonists,
as Aaron's rod, according to St. Jerome's illustration, devoured the
rods of the sorcerers of Egypt? Did it incorporate them into itself, or
was it dissolved into them? Did it assimilate them into its own
substance, or, keeping its name, was it simply infected by them? In a
word, were its developments faithful or corrupt? Nor is this a question
merely of the early centuries. When we consider the deep interest of the
controversies which Christianity raises, the various characters of mind
it has swayed, the range of subjects which it embraces, the many
countries it has entered, the deep philosophies it has encountered, the
vicissitudes it has undergone, and the length of time through which it
has lasted, it requires some assignable explanation, why we should not
consider it substantially modified and changed, that is, corrupted, from
the first, by the numberless influences to which it has been exposed.


Now there was this cardinal distinction between Christianity and the
religions and philosophies by which it was surrounded, nay even the
Judaism of the day, that it referred all truth and revelation to one
source, and that the Supreme and Only God. Pagan rites which honoured
one or other out of ten thousand deities; philosophies which scarcely
taught any source of revelation at all; Gnostic heresies which were
based on Dualism, adored angels, or ascribed the two Testaments to
distinct authors, could not regard truth as one, unalterable,
consistent, imperative, and saving. But Christianity started with the
principle that there was but "one God and one Mediator," and that He,
"who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the
fathers by the Prophets, had in these last days spoken unto us by His
Son." He had never left Himself without witness, and now He had come,
not to undo the past, but to fulfil and perfect it. His Apostles, and
they alone, possessed, venerated, and protected a Divine Message, as
both sacred and sanctifying; and, in the collision and conflict of
opinions, in ancient times or modern, it was that Message, and not any
vague or antagonist teaching, that was to succeed in purifying,
assimilating, transmuting, and taking into itself the many-coloured
beliefs, forms of worship, codes of duty, schools of thought, through
which it was ever moving. It was Grace, and it was Truth.

§ 1. _The Assimilating Power of Dogmatic Truth._

That there is a truth then; that there is one truth; that religious
error is in itself of an immoral nature; that its maintainers, unless
involuntarily such, are guilty in maintaining it; that it is to be
dreaded; that the search for truth is not the gratification of
curiosity; that its attainment has nothing of the excitement of a
discovery; that the mind is below truth, not above it, and is bound, not
to descant upon it, but to venerate it; that truth and falsehood are set
before us for the trial of our hearts; that our choice is an awful
giving forth of lots on which salvation or rejection is inscribed; that
"before all things it is necessary to hold the Catholic faith;" that "he
that would be saved must thus think," and not otherwise; that, "if thou
criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if
thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasure,
then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge
of God,"--this is the dogmatical principle, which has strength.

That truth and falsehood in religion are but matter of opinion; that one
doctrine is as good as another; that the Governor of the world does not
intend that we should gain the truth; that there is no truth; that we
are not more acceptable to God by believing this than by believing that;
that no one is answerable for his opinions; that they are a matter of
necessity or accident; that it is enough if we sincerely hold what we
profess; that our merit lies in seeking, not in possessing; that it is
a duty to follow what seems to us true, without a fear lest it should
not be true; that it may be a gain to succeed, and can be no harm to
fail; that we may take up and lay down opinions at pleasure; that belief
belongs to the mere intellect, not to the heart also; that we may safely
trust to ourselves in matters of Faith, and need no other guide,--this
is the principle of philosophies and heresies, which is very weakness.


Two opinions encounter; each may be abstractedly true; or again, each
may be a subtle, comprehensive doctrine, vigorous, elastic, expansive,
various; one is held as a matter of indifference, the other as a matter
of life and death; one is held by the intellect only, the other also by
the heart: it is plain which of the two must succumb to the other. Such
was the conflict of Christianity with the old established Paganism,
which was almost dead before Christianity appeared; with the Oriental
Mysteries, flitting wildly to and fro like spectres; with the Gnostics,
who made Knowledge all in all, despised the many, and called Catholics
mere children in the Truth; with the Neo-platonists, men of literature,
pedants, visionaries, or courtiers; with the Manichees, who professed to
seek Truth by Reason, not by Faith; with the fluctuating teachers of the
school of Antioch, the time-serving Eusebians, and the reckless
versatile Arians; with the fanatic Montanists and harsh Novatians, who
shrank from the Catholic doctrine, without power to propagate their own.
These sects had no stay or consistence, yet they contained elements of
truth amid their error, and had Christianity been as they, it might have
resolved into them; but it had that hold of the truth which gave its
teaching a gravity, a directness, a consistency, a sternness, and a
force, to which its rivals for the most part were strangers. It could
not call evil good, or good evil, because it discerned the difference
between them; it could not make light of what was so solemn, or desert
what was so solid. Hence, in the collision, it broke in pieces its
antagonists, and divided the spoils.


This was but another form of the spirit that made martyrs. Dogmatism was
in teaching, what confession was in act. Each was the same strong
principle of life in a different aspect, distinguishing the faith which
was displayed in it from the world's philosophies on the one side, and
the world's religions on the other. The heathen sects and the heresies
of Christian history were dissolved by the breath of opinion which made
them; paganism shuddered and died at the very sight of the sword of
persecution, which it had itself unsheathed. Intellect and force were
applied as tests both upon the divine and upon the human work; they
prevailed with the human, they did but become instruments of the Divine.
"No one," says St. Justin, "has so believed Socrates as to die for the
doctrine which he taught." "No one was ever found undergoing death for
faith in the sun."[359:1] Thus Christianity grew in its proportions,
gaining aliment and medicine from all that it came near, yet preserving
its original type, from its perception and its love of what had been
revealed once for all and was no private imagination.


There are writers who refer to the first centuries of the Church as a
time when opinion was free, and the conscience exempt from the
obligation or temptation to take on trust what it had not proved; and
that, apparently on the mere ground that the series of great
theological decisions did not commence till the fourth. This seems to be
M. Guizot's meaning when he says that Christianity "in the early ages
was a belief, a sentiment, an individual conviction;"[360:1] that "the
Christian society appears as a pure association of men animated by the
same sentiments and professing the same creed. The first Christians," he
continues, "assembled to enjoy together the same emotions, the same
religious convictions. We do not find any doctrinal system established,
any form of discipline or of laws, or any body of magistrates."[360:2]
What can be meant by saying that Christianity had no magistrates in the
earliest ages?--but, any how, in statements such as these the
distinction is not properly recognized between a principle and its
exhibitions and instances, even if the fact were as is represented. The
principle indeed of Dogmatism developes into Councils in the course of
time; but it was active, nay sovereign from the first, in every part of
Christendom. A conviction that truth was one; that it was a gift from
without, a sacred trust, an inestimable blessing; that it was to be
reverenced, guarded, defended, transmitted; that its absence was a
grievous want, and its loss an unutterable calamity; and again, the
stern words and acts of St. John, of Polycarp, Ignatius, Irenæus,
Clement, Tertullian, and Origen;--all this is quite consistent with
perplexity or mistake as to what was truth in particular cases, in what
way doubtful questions were to be decided, or what were the limits of
the Revelation. Councils and Popes are the guardians and instruments of
the dogmatic principle: they are not that principle themselves; they
presuppose the principle; they are summoned into action at the call of
the principle, and the principle might act even before they had their
legitimate place, and exercised a recognized power, in the movements of
the Christian body.


The instance of Conscience, which has already served us in illustration,
may assist us here. What Conscience is in the history of an individual
mind, such was the dogmatic principle in the history of Christianity.
Both in the one case and the other, there is the gradual formation of a
directing power out of a principle. The natural voice of Conscience is
far more imperative in testifying and enforcing a rule of duty, than
successful in determining that duty in particular cases. It acts as a
messenger from above, and says that there is a right and a wrong, and
that the right must be followed; but it is variously, and therefore
erroneously, trained in the instance of various persons. It mistakes
error for truth; and yet we believe that on the whole, and even in those
cases where it is ill-instructed, if its voice be diligently obeyed, it
will gradually be cleared, simplified, and perfected, so that minds,
starting differently will, if honest, in course of time converge to one
and the same truth. I do not hereby imply that there is indistinctness
so great as this in the theology of the first centuries; but so far is
plain, that the early Church and Fathers exercised far more a ruler's
than a doctor's office: it was the age of Martyrs, of acting not of
thinking. Doctors succeeded Martyrs, as light and peace of conscience
follow upon obedience to it; yet, even before the Church had grown into
the full measure of its doctrines, it was rooted in its principles.


So far, however, may be granted to M. Guizot, that even principles were
not so well understood and so carefully handled at first, as they were
afterwards. In the early period, we see traces of a conflict, as well as
of a variety, in theological elements, which were in course of
combination, but which required adjustment and management before they
could be used with precision as one. In a thousand instances of a minor
character, the statements of the early Fathers are but tokens of the
multiplicity of openings which the mind of the Church was making into
the treasure-house of Truth; real openings, but incomplete or irregular.
Nay, the doctrines even of the heretical bodies are indices and
anticipations of the mind of the Church. As the first step in settling a
question of doctrine is to raise and debate it, so heresies in every age
may be taken as the measure of the existing state of thought in the
Church, and of the movement of her theology; they determine in what way
the current is setting, and the rate at which it flows.


Thus, St. Clement may be called the representative of the eclectic
element, and Tertullian of the dogmatic, neither element as yet being
fully understood by Catholics; and Clement perhaps went too far in his
accommodation to philosophy, and Tertullian asserted with exaggeration
the immutability of the Creed. Nay, the two antagonist principles of
dogmatism and assimilation are found in Tertullian alone, though with
some deficiency of amalgamation, and with a greater leaning towards the
dogmatic. Though the Montanists professed to pass over the subject of
doctrine, it is chiefly in Tertullian's Montanistic works that his
strong statements occur of the unalterableness of the Creed; and
extravagance on the subject is not only in keeping with the stern and
vehement temper of that Father, but with the general severity and
harshness of his sect. On the other hand the very foundation of
Montanism is development, though not of doctrine, yet of discipline and
conduct. It is said that its founder professed himself the promised
Comforter, through whom the Church was to be perfected; he provided
prophets as organs of the new revelation, and called Catholics Psychici
or animal. Tertullian distinctly recognizes even the process of
development in one of his Montanistic works. After speaking of an
innovation upon usage, which his newly revealed truth required, he
proceeds, "Therefore hath the Lord sent the Paraclete, that, since human
infirmity could not take all things in at once, discipline might be
gradually directed, regulated and brought to perfection by the Lord's
Vicar, the Holy Ghost. 'I have yet many things to say to you,' He saith,
&c. What is this dispensation of the Paraclete but this, that discipline
is directed, Scriptures opened, intellect reformed, improvements
effected? Nothing can take place without age, and all things wait their
time. In short, the Preacher says 'There is a time for all things.'
Behold the creature itself gradually advancing to fruit. At first there
is a seed, and a stalk springs out of the seed, and from the stalk
bursts out a shrub, and then its branches and foliage grow vigorous, and
all that we mean by a tree is unfolded; then there is the swelling of
the bud, and the bud is resolved into a blossom, and the blossom is
opened into a fruit, and is for a while rudimental and unformed, till,
by degrees following out its life, it is matured into mellowness of
flavour. So too righteousness, (for there is the same God both of
righteousness and of the creation,) was at first in its rudiments, a
nature fearing God; thence, by means of Law and Prophets, it advanced
into infancy; thence, by the gospel, it burst forth into its youth; and
now by the Paraclete, it is fashioned into maturity."[363:1]


Not in one principle or doctrine only, but in its whole system,
Montanism is a remarkable anticipation or presage of developments which
soon began to show themselves in the Church, though they were not
perfected for centuries after. Its rigid maintenance of the original
Creed, yet its admission of a development, at least in the ritual, has
just been instanced in the person of Tertullian. Equally Catholic in
their principle, whether in fact or anticipation, were most of the other
peculiarities of Montanism: its rigorous fasts, its visions, its
commendation of celibacy and martyrdom, its contempt of temporal goods,
its penitential discipline, and its maintenance of a centre of unity.
The doctrinal determinations and the ecclesiastical usages of the middle
ages are the true fulfilment of its self-willed and abortive attempts at
precipitating the growth of the Church. The favour shown to it for a
while by Pope Victor is an evidence of its external resemblance to
orthodoxy; and the celebrated Martyrs and Saints in Africa, in the
beginning of the third century, Perpetua and Felicitas, or at least
their Acts, betoken that same peculiar temper of religion, which, when
cut off from the Church a few years afterwards, quickly degenerated into
a heresy. A parallel instance occurs in the case of the Donatists. They
held a doctrine on the subject of Baptism similar to that of St.
Cyprian: "Vincentius Lirinensis," says Gibbon, referring to Tillemont's
remarks on that resemblance, "has explained why the Donatists are
eternally burning with the devil, while St. Cyprian reigns in heaven
with Jesus Christ."[364:1] And his reason is intelligible: it is, says
Tillemont, "as St. Augustine often says, because the Donatists had
broken the bond of peace and charity with the other Churches, which St.
Cyprian had preserved so carefully."[364:2]


These are specimens of the raw material, as it may be called, which,
whether as found in individual Fathers within the pale of the Church, or
in heretics external to it, she had the power, by means of the
continuity and firmness of her principles, to convert to her own uses.
She alone has succeeded in thus rejecting evil without sacrificing the
good, and in holding together in one things which in all other schools
are incompatible. Gnostic or Platonic words are found in the inspired
theology of St. John; to the Platonists Unitarian writers trace the
doctrine of our Lord's divinity; Gibbon the idea of the Incarnation to
the Gnostics. The Gnostics too seem first to have systematically thrown
the intellect upon matters of faith; and the very term "Gnostic" has
been taken by Clement to express his perfect Christian. And, though
ascetics existed from the beginning, the notion of a religion higher
than the Christianity of the many, was first prominently brought forward
by the Gnostics, Montanists, Novatians, and Manichees. And while the
prophets of the Montanists prefigure the Church's Doctors, and their
professed inspiration her infallibility, and their revelations her
developments, and the heresiarch himself is the unsightly anticipation
of St. Francis, in Novatian again we discern the aspiration of nature
after such creations of grace as St. Benedict or St. Bruno. And so the
effort of Sabellius to complete the enunciation of the mystery of the
Ever-blessed Trinity failed: it became a heresy; grace would not be
constrained; the course of thought could not be forced;--at length it
was realized in the true Unitarianism of St. Augustine.


Doctrine too is percolated, as it were, through different minds,
beginning with writers of inferior authority in the Church, and issuing
at length in the enunciation of her Doctors. Origen, Tertullian, nay
Eusebius and the Antiochenes, supply the materials, from which the
Fathers have wrought out comments or treatises. St. Gregory Nazianzen
and St. Basil digested into form the theological principles of Origen;
St. Hilary and St. Ambrose are both indebted to the same great writer in
their interpretations of Scripture; St. Ambrose again has taken his
comment on St. Luke from Eusebius, and certain of his Tracts from Philo;
St. Cyprian called Tertullian his Master; and traces of Tertullian, in
his almost heretical treatises, may be detected in the most finished
sentences of St. Leo. The school of Antioch, in spite of the heretical
taint of various of its Masters, formed the genius of St. Chrysostom.
And the Apocryphal gospels have contributed many things for the devotion
and edification of Catholic believers.[366:1]

The deep meditation which seems to have been exercised by the Fathers on
points of doctrine, the disputes and turbulence yet lucid determination
which characterize the Councils, the indecision of Popes, are all in
different ways, at least when viewed together, portions and indications
of the same process. The theology of the Church is no random combination
of various opinions, but a diligent, patient working out of one doctrine
from many materials. The conduct of Popes, Councils, Fathers, betokens
the slow, painful, anxious taking up of new truths into an existing body
of belief. St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Leo are conspicuous for
the repetition _in terminis_ of their own theological statements; on the
contrary, it has been observed of the heterodox Tertullian, that his
works "indicate no ordinary fertility of mind in that he so little
repeats himself or recurs to favourite thoughts, as is frequently the
case even with the great St. Augustine."[366:2]


Here we see the difference between originality of mind and the gift and
calling of a Doctor in the Church; the holy Fathers just mentioned were
intently fixing their minds on what they taught, grasping it more and
more closely, viewing it on various sides, trying its consistency,
weighing their own separate expressions. And thus if in some cases they
were even left in ignorance, the next generation of teachers completed
their work, for the same unwearied anxious process of thought went on.
St. Gregory Nyssen finishes the investigations of St. Athanasius; St.
Leo guards the polemical statements of St. Cyril. Clement may hold a
purgatory, yet tend to consider all punishment purgatorial; St. Cyprian
may hold the unsanctified state of heretics, but include in his doctrine
a denial of their baptism; St. Hippolytus may believe in the personal
existence of the Word from eternity, yet speak confusedly on the
eternity of His Sonship; the Council of Antioch might put aside the
Homoüsion, and the Council of Nicæa impose it; St. Hilary may believe in
a purgatory, yet confine it to the day of judgment; St. Athanasius and
other Fathers may treat with almost supernatural exactness the doctrine
of our Lord's incarnation, yet imply, as far as words go, that He was
ignorant viewed in His human nature; the Athanasian Creed may admit the
illustration of soul and body, and later Fathers may discountenance it;
St. Augustine might first be opposed to the employment of force in
religion, and then acquiesce in it. Prayers for the faithful departed
may be found in the early liturgies, yet with an indistinctness which
included the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs in the same rank with the
imperfect Christian whose sins were as yet unexpiated; and succeeding
times might keep what was exact, and supply what was deficient.
Aristotle might be reprobated by certain early Fathers, yet furnish the
phraseology for theological definitions afterwards. And in a different
subject-matter, St. Isidore and others might be suspicious of the
decoration of Churches; St. Paulinus and St. Helena advance it. And thus
we are brought on to dwell upon the office of grace, as well as of
truth, in enabling the Church's creed to develope and to absorb without
the risk of corruption.

§ 2. _The Assimilating Power of Sacramental Grace._

There is in truth a certain virtue or grace in the Gospel which changes
the quality of doctrines, opinions, usages, actions, and personal
characters when incorporated with it, and makes them right and
acceptable to its Divine Author, whereas before they were either
infected with evil, or at best but shadows of the truth. This is the
principle, above spoken of, which I have called the Sacramental. "We
know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness," is an
enunciation of the principle;--or, the declaration of the Apostle of the
Gentiles, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are
passed away, behold all things are become new." Thus it is that outward
rites, which are but worthless in themselves, lose their earthly
character and become Sacraments under the Gospel; circumcision, as St.
Paul says, is carnal and has come to an end, yet Baptism is a perpetual
ordinance, as being grafted upon a system which is grace and truth.
Elsewhere, he parallels, while he contrasts, "the cup of the Lord" and
"the cup of devils," in this respect, that to partake of either is to
hold communion with the source from which it comes; and he adds
presently, that "we have been all made to drink into one spirit." So
again he says, no one is justified by the works of the old Law; while
both he implies, and St. James declares, that Christians are justified
by works of the New Law. Again he contrasts the exercises of the
intellect as exhibited by heathen and Christian. "Howbeit," he says,
after condemning heathen wisdom, "we speak wisdom among them that are
perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world;" and it is plain that nowhere
need we look for more glowing eloquence, more distinct profession of
reasoning, more careful assertion of doctrine, than is to be found in
the Apostle's writings.


In like manner when the Jewish exorcists attempted to "call over them
which had evil spirits the Name of the Lord Jesus," the evil spirit
professed not to know them, and inflicted on them a bodily injury; on
the other hand, the occasion of this attempt of theirs was a stupendous
instance or type, in the person of St. Paul, of the very principle I am
illustrating. "God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so
that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons,
and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of
them." The grace given him was communicable, diffusive; an influence
passing from him to others, and making what it touched spiritual, as
enthusiasm may be or tastes or panics.

Parallel instances occur of the operation of this principle in the
history of the Church, from the time that the Apostles were taken from
it. St. Paul denounces distinctions in meat and drink, the observance of
Sabbaths and holydays, and of ordinances, and the worship of Angels; yet
Christians, from the first, were rigid in their stated fastings,
venerated, as St. Justin tells us, the Angelic intelligences,[369:1] and
established the observance of the Lord's day as soon as persecution


In like manner Celsus objects that Christians did not "endure the sight
of temples, altars, and statues;" Porphyry, that "they blame the rites
of worship, victims, and frankincense;" the heathen disputant in
Minucius asks, "Why have Christians no altars, no temples, no
conspicuous images?" and "no sacrifices;" and yet it is plain from
Tertullian that Christians had altars of their own, and sacrifices and
priests. And that they had churches is again and again proved by
Eusebius who had seen "the houses of prayer levelled" in the Dioclesian
persecution; from the history too of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, nay from
Clement.[370:1] Again, St. Justin and Minucius speak of the form of the
Cross in terms of reverence, quite inconsistent with the doctrine that
external emblems of religion may not be venerated. Tertullian speaks of
Christians signing themselves with it whatever they set about, whether
they walk, eat, or lie down to sleep. In Eusebius's life of Constantine,
the figure of the Cross holds a most conspicuous place; the Emperor sees
it in the sky and is converted; he places it upon his standards; he
inserts it into his own hand when he puts up his statue; wherever the
Cross is displayed in his battles, he conquers; he appoints fifty men to
carry it; he engraves it on his soldiers' arms; and Licinius dreads its
power. Shortly after, Julian plainly accuses Christians of worshipping
the wood of the Cross, though they refused to worship the _ancile_. In a
later age the worship of images was introduced.[370:2]


The principle of the distinction, by which these observances were pious
in Christianity and superstitious in paganism, is implied in such
passages of Tertullian, Lactantius, and others, as speak of evil spirits
lurking under the pagan statues. It is intimated also by Origen, who,
after saying that Scripture so strongly "forbids temples, altars, and
images," that Christians are "ready to go to death, if necessary, rather
than pollute their notion of the God of all by any such transgression,"
assigns as a reason "that, as far as possible, they might not fall into
the notion that images were gods." St. Augustine, in replying to
Porphyry, is more express; "Those," he says, "who are acquainted with
Old and New Testament do not blame in the pagan religion the erection of
temples or institution of priesthoods, but that these are done to idols
and devils. . . True religion blames in their superstitions, not so much
their sacrificing, for the ancient saints sacrificed to the True God, as
their sacrificing to false gods."[371:1] To Faustus the Manichee he
answers, "We have some things in common with the gentiles, but our
purpose is different."[371:2] And St. Jerome asks Vigilantius, who made
objections to lights and oil, "Because we once worshipped idols, is that
a reason why we should not worship God, for fear of seeming to address
him with an honour like that which was paid to idols and then was
detestable, whereas this is paid to Martyrs and therefore to be


Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of
evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of
demon-worship to an evangelical use, and feeling also that these usages
had originally come from primitive revelations and from the instinct of
nature, though they had been corrupted; and that they must invent what
they needed, if they did not use what they found; and that they were
moreover possessed of the very archetypes, of which paganism attempted
the shadows; the rulers of the Church from early times were prepared,
should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the
existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of
the educated class.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus supplies the first instance on record of this
economy. He was the Apostle of Pontus, and one of his methods for
governing an untoward population is thus related by St. Gregory of
Nyssa. "On returning," he says, "to the city, after revisiting the
country round about, he increased the devotion of the people everywhere
by instituting festive meetings in honour of those who had fought for
the faith. The bodies of the Martyrs were distributed in different
places, and the people assembled and made merry, as the year came round,
holding festival in their honour. This indeed was a proof of his great
wisdom . . . for, perceiving that the childish and untrained populace
were retained in their idolatrous error by creature comforts, in order
that what was of first importance should at any rate be secured to them,
viz. that they should look to God in place of their vain rites, he
allowed them to be merry, jovial, and gay at the monuments of the holy
Martyrs, as if their behaviour would in time undergo a spontaneous
change into greater seriousness and strictness, since faith would lead
them to it; which has actually been the happy issue in that population,
all carnal gratification having turned into a spiritual form of
rejoicing."[372:1] There is no reason to suppose that the licence here
spoken of passed the limits of harmless though rude festivity; for
it is observable that the same reason, the need of holydays for the
multitude, is assigned by Origen, St. Gregory's master, to explain
the establishment of the Lord's Day also, and the Paschal and the
Pentecostal festivals, which have never been viewed as unlawful
compliances; and, moreover, the people were in fact eventually reclaimed
from their gross habits by his indulgent policy, a successful issue
which could not have followed an accommodation to what was sinful.


The example set by St. Gregory in an age of persecution was impetuously
followed when a time of peace succeeded. In the course of the fourth
century two movements or developments spread over the face of
Christendom, with a rapidity characteristic of the Church; the one
ascetic, the other ritual or ceremonial. We are told in various ways by
Eusebius,[373:1] that Constantine, in order to recommend the new
religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to
which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go
into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made
familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to
particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees;
incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness;
holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars,
processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure,
the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date,
perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison,[373:2] are all
of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.


The eighth book of Theodoret's work _Adversus Gentiles_, which is "On
the Martyrs," treats so largely on the subject, that we must content
ourselves with only a specimen of the illustrations which it affords, of
the principle acted on by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus. "Time, which makes
all things decay," he says, speaking of the Martyrs, "has preserved
their glory incorruptible. For as the noble souls of those conquerors
traverse the heavens, and take part in the spiritual choirs, so their
bodies are not consigned to separate tombs, but cities and towns divide
them among them; and call them saviours of souls and bodies, and
physicians, and honour them as the protectors and guardians of cities,
and, using their intervention with the Lord of all, obtain through them
divine gifts. And though each body be divided, the grace remains
indivisible; and that small, that tiny particle is equal in power with
the Martyr that hath never been dispersed about. For the grace which is
ever blossoming distributes the gifts, measuring the bounty according to
the faith of those who come for it.

"Yet not even this persuades you to celebrate their God, but ye laugh
and mock at the honour which is paid them by all, and consider it a
pollution to approach their tombs. But though all men made a jest of
them, yet at least the Greeks could not decently complain, to whom
belonged libations and expiations, and heroes and demi-gods and deified
men. To Hercules, though a man . . . and compelled to serve Eurystheus,
they built temples, and constructed altars, and offered sacrifices in
honour, and allotted feasts; and that, not Spartans only and Athenians,
but the whole of Greece and the greater part of Europe."


Then, after going through the history of many heathen deities, and
referring to the doctrine of the philosophers about great men, and to
the monuments of kings and emperors, all of which at once are witnesses
and are inferior, to the greatness of the Martyrs, he continues: "To
their shrines we come, not once or twice a year or five times, but often
do we hold celebrations; often, nay daily, do we present hymns to their
Lord. And the sound in health ask for its preservation, and those who
struggle with any disease for a release from their sufferings; the
childless for children, the barren to become mothers, and those who
enjoy the blessing for its safe keeping. Those too who are setting out
for a foreign land beg that the Martyrs may be their fellow-travellers
and guides of the journey; those who have come safe back acknowledge the
grace, not coming to them as to gods, but beseeching them as divine men,
and asking their intercession. And that they obtain what they ask in
faith, their dedications openly witness, in token of their cure. For
some bring likenesses of eyes, others of feet, others of hands; some of
gold, others of silver; and their Lord accepts even the small and cheap,
measuring the gift by the offerer's ability. . . . . Philosophers and
Orators are consigned to oblivion, and kings and captains are not known
even by name to the many; but the names of the Martyrs are better known
to all than the names of those dearest to them. And they make a point of
giving them to their children, with a view of gaining for them thereby
safety and protection. . . . Nay, of the so-called gods, so utterly have
the sacred places been destroyed, that not even their outline remains,
nor the shape of their altars is known to men of this generation, while
their materials have been dedicated to the shrines of the Martyrs. For
the Lord has introduced His own dead in place of your gods; of the one
He hath made a riddance, on the other He hath conferred their honours.
For the Pandian festival, the Diasia, and the Dionysia, and your other
such, we have the feasts of Peter, of Paul, of Thomas, of Sergius, of
Marcellus, of Leontius, of Panteleëmon, of Antony, of Maurice, and of
the other Martyrs; and for that old-world procession, and indecency of
work and word, are held modest festivities, without intemperance, or
revel, or laughter, but with divine hymns, and attendance on holy
discourses and prayers, adorned with laudable tears." This was the view
of the "Evidences of Christianity" which a Bishop of the fifth century
offered for the conversion of unbelievers.


The introduction of Images was still later, and met with more opposition
in the West than in the East. It is grounded on the same great principle
which I am illustrating; and as I have given extracts from Theodoret for
the developments of the fourth and fifth centuries, so will I now cite
St. John Damascene in defence of the further developments of the eighth.

"As to the passages you adduce," he says to his opponents, "they
abominate not the worship paid to our Images, but that of the Greeks,
who made them gods. It needs not therefore, because of the absurd use of
the Greeks, to abolish our use which is so pious. Enchanters and wizards
use adjurations, so does the Church over its Catechumens; but they
invoke devils, and she invokes God against devils. Greeks dedicate
images to devils, and call them gods; but we to True God Incarnate, and
to God's servants and friends, who drive away the troops of
devils."[376:1] Again, "As the holy Fathers overthrew the temples and
shrines of the devils, and raised in their places shrines in the names
of Saints and we worship them, so also they overthrew the images of the
devils, and in their stead raised images of Christ, and God's Mother,
and the Saints. And under the Old Covenant, Israel neither raised
temples in the name of men, nor was memory of man made a festival; for,
as yet, man's nature was under a curse, and death was condemnation, and
therefore was lamented, and a corpse was reckoned unclean and he who
touched it; but now that the Godhead has been combined with our nature,
as some life-giving and saving medicine, our nature has been glorified
and is trans-elemented into incorruption. Wherefore the death of Saints
is made a feast, and temples are raised to them, and Images are
painted. . . For the Image is a triumph, and a manifestation, and a
monument in memory of the victory of those who have done nobly and
excelled, and of the shame of the devils defeated and overthrown." Once
more, "If because of the Law thou dost forbid Images, you will soon have
to sabbatize and be circumcised, for these ordinances the Law commands
as indispensable; nay, to observe the whole law, and not to keep the
festival of the Lord's Pascha out of Jerusalem: but know that if you
keep the Law, Christ hath profited you nothing. . . . . But away with
this, for whoever of you are justified in the Law have fallen from


It is quite consistent with the tenor of these remarks to observe, or to
allow, that real superstitions have sometimes obtained in parts of
Christendom from its intercourse with the heathen; or have even been
admitted, or all but admitted, though commonly resisted strenuously, by
authorities in the Church, in consequence of the resemblance which
exists between the heathen rites and certain portions of her ritual. As
philosophy has at times corrupted her divines, so has paganism
corrupted her worshippers; and as the more intellectual have been
involved in heresy, so have the ignorant been corrupted by superstition.
Thus St. Chrysostom is vehement against the superstitious usages which
Jews and Gentiles were introducing among Christians at Antioch and
Constantinople. "What shall we say," he asks in one place, "about the
amulets and bells which are hung upon the hands, and the scarlet woof,
and other things full of such extreme folly; when they ought to invest
the child with nothing else save the protection of the Cross? But now
that is despised which hath converted the whole world, and given the
sore wound to the devil, and overthrown all his power; while the thread,
and the woof, and the other amulets of that kind, are entrusted with the
child's safety." After mentioning further superstitions, he proceeds,
"Now that among Greeks such things should be done, is no wonder; but
among the worshippers of the Cross, and partakers in unspeakable
mysteries, and professors of such morality, that such unseemliness
should prevail, this is especially to be deplored again and

And in like manner St. Augustine suppressed the feasts called Agapæ,
which had been allowed the African Christians on their first conversion.
"It is time," he says, "for men who dare not deny that they are
Christians, to begin to live according to the will of Christ, and, now
being Christians, to reject what was only allowed that they might become
Christians." The people objected the example of the Vatican Church at
Rome, where such feasts were observed every day; St. Augustine answered,
"I have heard that it has been often prohibited, but the place is far
off from the Bishop's abode (the Lateran), and in so large a city there
is a multitude of carnal persons, especially of strangers who resort
daily thither."[378:2] And in like manner it certainly is possible that
the consciousness of the sanctifying power in Christianity may have
acted as a temptation to sins, whether of deceit or of violence; as if
the habit or state of grace destroyed the sinfulness of certain acts, or
as if the end justified the means.


It is but enunciating in other words the principle we are tracing, to
say that the Church has been entrusted with the dispensation of grace.
For if she can convert heathen appointments into spiritual rites and
usages, what is this but to be in possession of a treasure, and to
exercise a discretionary power in its application? Hence there has been
from the first much variety and change, in the Sacramental acts and
instruments which she has used. While the Eastern and African Churches
baptized heretics on their reconciliation, the Church of Rome, as the
Catholic Church since, maintained that imposition of hands was
sufficient, if their prior baptism had been formally correct. The
ceremony of imposition of hands was used on various occasions with a
distinct meaning; at the rite of Catechumens, on admitting heretics, in
Confirmation, in Ordination, in Benediction. Baptism was sometimes
administered by immersion, sometimes by infusion. Infant Baptism was not
at first enforced as afterwards. Children or even infants were admitted
to the Eucharist in the African Church and the rest of the West, as now
in the Greek. Oil had various uses, as for healing the sick, or as in
the rite of extreme unction. Indulgences in works or in periods of
penance, had a different meaning, according to circumstances. In like
manner the Sign of the Cross was one of the earliest means of grace;
then holy seasons, and holy places, and pilgrimage to them; holy water;
prescribed prayers, or other observances; garments, as the scapular,
and sacred vestments; the rosary; the crucifix. And for some wise
purpose doubtless, such as that of showing the power of the Church in
the dispensation of divine grace, as well as the perfection and
spirituality of the Eucharistic Presence, the Chalice is in the West
withheld from all but the celebrant in the Holy Eucharist.


Since it has been represented as if the power of assimilation, spoken of
in this Chapter, is in my meaning nothing more than a mere accretion of
doctrines or rites from without, I am led to quote the following passage
in further illustration of it from my "Essays," vol. ii. p. 231:--

     "The phenomenon, admitted on all hands, is this:--That great
     portion of what is generally received as Christian truth is,
     in its rudiments or in its separate parts, to be found in
     heathen philosophies and religions. For instance, the doctrine
     of a Trinity is found both in the East and in the West; so is
     the ceremony of washing; so is the rite of sacrifice. The
     doctrine of the Divine Word is Platonic; the doctrine of the
     Incarnation is Indian; of a divine kingdom is Judaic; of
     Angels and demons is Magian; the connexion of sin with the
     body is Gnostic; celibacy is known to Bonze and Talapoin; a
     sacerdotal order is Egyptian; the idea of a new birth is
     Chinese and Eleusinian; belief in sacramental virtue is
     Pythagorean; and honours to the dead are a polytheism. Such is
     the general nature of the fact before us; Mr. Milman argues
     from it,--'These things are in heathenism, therefore they are
     not Christian:' we, on the contrary, prefer to say, 'these
     things are in Christianity, therefore they are not heathen.'
     That is, we prefer to say, and we think that Scripture bears
     us out in saying, that from the beginning the Moral Governor
     of the world has scattered the seeds of truth far and wide
     over its extent; that these have variously taken root, and
     grown up as in the wilderness, wild plants indeed but living;
     and hence that, as the inferior animals have tokens of an
     immaterial principle in them, yet have not souls, so the
     philosophies and religions of men have their life in certain
     true ideas, though they are not directly divine. What man is
     amid the brute creation, such is the Church among the schools
     of the world; and as Adam gave names to the animals about him,
     so has the Church from the first looked round upon the earth,
     noting and visiting the doctrines she found there. She began
     in Chaldea, and then sojourned among the Canaanites, and went
     down into Egypt, and thence passed into Arabia, till she
     rested in her own land. Next she encountered the merchants of
     Tyre, and the wisdom of the East country, and the luxury of
     Sheba. Then she was carried away to Babylon, and wandered to
     the schools of Greece. And wherever she went, in trouble or in
     triumph, still she was a living spirit, the mind and voice of
     the Most High; 'sitting in the midst of the doctors, both
     hearing them and asking them questions;' claiming to herself
     what they said rightly, correcting their errors, supplying
     their defects, completing their beginnings, expanding their
     surmises, and thus gradually by means of them enlarging the
     range and refining the sense of her own teaching. So far then
     from her creed being of doubtful credit because it resembles
     foreign theologies, we even hold that one special way in which
     Providence has imparted divine knowledge to us has been by
     enabling her to draw and collect it together out of the world,
     and, in this sense, as in others, to 'suck the milk of the
     Gentiles and to suck the breast of kings.'

     "How far in fact this process has gone, is a question of
     history; and we believe it has before now been grossly
     exaggerated and misrepresented by those who, like Mr. Milman,
     have thought that its existence told against Catholic
     doctrine; but so little antecedent difficulty have we in the
     matter, that we could readily grant, unless it were a question
     of fact not of theory, that Balaam was an Eastern sage, or a
     Sibyl was inspired, or Solomon learnt of the sons of Mahol, or
     Moses was a scholar of the Egyptian hierophants. We are not
     distressed to be told that the doctrine of the angelic host
     came from Babylon, while we know that they did sing at the
     Nativity; nor that the vision of a Mediator is in Philo, if in
     very deed He died for us on Calvary. Nor are we afraid to
     allow, that, even after His coming, the Church has been a
     treasure-house, giving forth things old and new, casting the
     gold of fresh tributaries into her refiner's fire, or stamping
     upon her own, as time required it, a deeper impress of her
     Master's image.

     "The distinction between these two theories is broad and
     obvious. The advocates of the one imply that Revelation was a
     single, entire, solitary act, or nearly so, introducing a
     certain message; whereas we, who maintain the other, consider
     that Divine teaching has been in fact, what the analogy of
     nature would lead us to expect, 'at sundry times and in divers
     manners,' various, complex, progressive, and supplemental of
     itself. We consider the Christian doctrine, when analyzed, to
     appear, like the human frame, 'fearfully and wonderfully
     made;' but they think it some one tenet or certain principles
     given out at one time in their fulness, without gradual
     enlargement before Christ's coming or elucidation afterwards.
     They cast off all that they also find in Pharisee or heathen;
     we conceive that the Church, like Aaron's rod, devours the
     serpents of the magicians. They are ever hunting for a
     fabulous primitive simplicity; we repose in Catholic fulness.
     They seek what never has been found; we accept and use what
     even they acknowledge to be a substance. They are driven to
     maintain, on their part, that the Church's doctrine was never
     pure; we say that it can never be corrupt. We consider that a
     divine promise keeps the Church Catholic from doctrinal
     corruption; but on what promise, or on what encouragement,
     they are seeking for their visionary purity does not appear."


[359:1] Justin, Apol. ii. 10, Tryph. 121.

[360:1] Europ. Civ. p. 56, tr.

[360:2] p. 58.

[363:1] De Virg. Vol. 1.

[364:1] Hist. t. 3, p. 312.

[364:2] Mem. Eccl. t. 6, p. 83.

[366:1] Galland. t. 3, p. 673, note 3.

[366:2] Vid. Preface to Oxford Transl. of Tertullian, where the
character of his mind is admirably drawn out.

[369:1] Infra, pp. 411-415, &c.

[370:1] Orig. c. Cels. vii. 63, viii. 17 (vid. not. Bened. in loc.),
August. Ep. 102, 16; Minuc. F. 10, and 32; Tertull. de Orat. fin. ad
Uxor. i. fin. Euseb. Hist. viii. 2; Clem. Strom. vii. 6, p. 846.

[370:2] Tertull. de Cor. 3; Just. Apol. i. 65; Minuc. F. 20; Julian ap.
Cyr. vi. p. 194, Spanh.

[371:1] Epp. 102, 18.

[371:2] Contr. Faust. 20, 23.

[371:3] Lact. ii. 15, 16; Tertull. Spect. 12; Origen, c. Cels. vii.
64-66, August. Ep. 102, 18; Contr. Faust. xx. 23; Hieron. c. Vigil. 8.

[372:1] Vit. Thaum. p. 1006.

[373:1] V. Const. iii. 1, iv. 23, &c.

[373:2] According to Dr. E. D. Clarke, Travels, vol. i. p. 352.

[376:1] De Imag. i. 24.

[377:1] Ibid. ii. 11. 14.

[378:1] Hom. xii. in Cor. 1, Oxf. Tr.

[378:2] Fleury, Hist. xx. 11, Oxf. Tr.




Logical Sequence has been set down above as a fourth test of fidelity in
development, and shall now be briefly illustrated in the history of
Christian doctrine. That is, I mean to give instances of one doctrine
leading to another; so that, if the former be admitted, the latter can
hardly be denied, and the latter can hardly be called a corruption
without taking exception to the former. And I use "logical sequence" in
contrast both to that process of incorporation and assimilation which
was last under review, and also to that principle of science, which has
put into order and defended the developments after they have been made.
Accordingly it will include any progress of the mind from one judgment
to another, as, for instance, by way of moral fitness, which may not
admit of analysis into premiss and conclusion. Thus St. Peter argued in
the case of Cornelius and his friends, "Can any man forbid water that
these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well
as we?"

Such is the series of doctrinal truths, which start from the dogma of
our Lord's Divinity, and again from such texts of Scripture as "Thou art
Peter," and which I should have introduced here, had I not already used
them for a previous purpose in the Fourth Chapter. I shall confine
myself then for an example to the instance of the developments which
follow on the consideration of sin after Baptism, a subject which was
touched upon in the same Chapter.

§ 1. _Pardons._

It is not necessary here to enlarge on the benefits which the primitive
Church held to be conveyed to the soul by means of the Sacrament of
Baptism. Its distinguishing gift, which is in point to mention, was the
plenary forgiveness of sins past. It was also held that the Sacrament
could not be repeated. The question immediately followed, how, since
there was but "one Baptism for the remission of sins," the guilt of such
sin was to be removed as was incurred after its administration. There
must be some provision in the revealed system for so obvious a need.
What could be done for those who had received the one remission of sins,
and had sinned since? Some who thought upon the subject appear to have
conceived that the Church was empowered to grant one, and one only,
reconciliation after grievous offences. Three sins seemed to many, at
least in the West, to be irremissible, idolatry, murder, and adultery.
But such a system of Church discipline, however suited to a small
community, and even expedient in a time of persecution, could not exist
in Christianity, as it spread into the _orbis terrarum_, and gathered
like a net of every kind. A more indulgent rule gradually gained ground;
yet the Spanish Church adhered to the ancient even in the fourth
century, and a portion of the African in the third, and in the remaining
portion there was a relaxation only as regards the crime of


Meanwhile a protest was made against the growing innovation: at the
beginning of the third century Montanus, who was a zealot for the more
primitive rule, shrank from the laxity, as he considered it, of the
Asian Churches;[385:1] as, in a different subject-matter, Jovinian and
Vigilantius were offended at the developments in divine worship in the
century which followed. The Montanists had recourse to the See of Rome,
and at first with some appearance of success. Again, in Africa, where
there had been in the first instance a schism headed by Felicissimus in
favour of a milder discipline than St. Cyprian approved, a far more
formidable stand was soon made in favour of Antiquity, headed by
Novatus, who originally had been of the party of Felicissimus. This was
taken up at Rome by Novatian, who professed to adhere to the original,
or at least the primitive rule of the Church, viz. that those who had
once fallen from the faith could in no case be received again.[385:2]
The controversy seems to have found the following issue,--whether the
Church had the _means_ of pardoning sins committed after Baptism, which
the Novatians, at least practically, denied. "It is fitting," says the
Novatian Acesius, "to exhort those who have sinned after Baptism to
repentance, but to expect hope of remission, not from the priests, but
from God, who hath power to forgive sins."[385:3] The schism spread into
the East, and led to the appointment of a penitentiary priest in the
Catholic Churches. By the end of the third century as many as four
degrees of penance were appointed, through which offenders had to pass
in order to a reconciliation.

§ 2. _Penances._

The length and severity of the penance varied with times and places.
Sometimes, as we have seen, it lasted, in the case of grave offences,
through life and on to death, without any reconciliation; at other times
it ended only in the _viaticum_; and if, after reconciliation they did
not die, their ordinary penance was still binding on them either for
life or for a certain time. In other cases it lasted ten, fifteen, or
twenty years. But in all cases, from the first, the Bishop had the power
of shortening it, and of altering the nature and quality of the
punishment. Thus in the instance of the Emperor Theodosius, whom St.
Ambrose shut out from communion for the massacre at Thessalonica,
"according to the mildest rules of ecclesiastical discipline, which were
established in the fourth century," says Gibbon, "the crime of homicide
was expiated by the penitence of twenty years; and as it was impossible,
in the period of human life, to purge the accumulated guilt of the
massacre . . . the murderer should have been excluded from the holy
communion till the hour of his death." He goes on to say that the public
edification which resulted from the humiliation of so illustrious a
penitent was a reason for abridging the punishment. "It was sufficient
that the Emperor of the Romans, stripped of the ensigns of royalty,
should appear in a mournful and suppliant posture, and that, in the
midst of the Church of Milan, he should humbly solicit with sighs and
tears the pardon of his sins." His penance was shortened to an interval
of about eight months. Hence arose the phrase of a "_pœnitentia
legitima, plena, et justa_;" which signifies a penance sufficient,
perhaps in length of time, perhaps in intensity of punishment.

§ 3. _Satisfactions._

Here a serious question presented itself to the minds of Christians,
which was now to be wrought out:--Were these punishments merely signs
of contrition, or in any sense satisfactions for sin? If the former,
they might be absolutely remitted at the discretion of the Church, as
soon as true repentance was discovered; the end had then been attained,
and nothing more was necessary. Thus St. Chrysostom says in one of his
Homilies,[387:1] "I require not continuance of time, but the correction
of the soul. Show your contrition, show your reformation, and all is
done." Yet, though there might be a reason of the moment for shortening
the penance imposed by the Church, this does not at all decide the
question whether that ecclesiastical penance be not part of an expiation
made to the Almighty Judge for the sin; and supposing this really to be
the case, the question follows, How is the complement of that
satisfaction to be wrought out, which on just grounds of present
expedience has been suspended by the Church now?

As to this question, it cannot be doubted that the Fathers considered
penance as not a mere expression of contrition, but as an act done
directly towards God and a means of averting His anger. "If the sinner
spare not himself, he will be spared by God," says the writer who goes
under the name of St. Ambrose. "Let him lie in sackcloth, and by the
austerity of his life make amends for the offence of his past
pleasures," says St. Jerome. "As we have sinned greatly," says St.
Cyprian, "let us weep greatly; for a deep wound diligent and long
tending must not be wanting, the repentance must not fall short of the
offence." "Take heed to thyself," says St. Basil, "that, in proportion
to the fault, thou admit also the restoration from the remedy."[387:2]
If so, the question follows which was above contemplated,--if in
consequence of death, or in the exercise of the Church's discretion,
the "_plena pœnitentia_" is not accomplished in its ecclesiastical
shape, how and when will the residue be exacted?

§ 4. _Purgatory._

Clement of Alexandria answers this particular question very distinctly,
according to Bishop Kaye, though not in some other points expressing
himself conformably to the doctrine afterwards received. "Clement," says
that author, "distinguishes between sins committed before and after
baptism: the former are remitted at baptism; the latter are purged by
discipline. . . . The necessity of this purifying discipline is such,
that if it does not take place in this life, it must after death, and is
then to be effected by fire, not by a destructive, but a discriminating
fire, pervading the soul which passes through it."[388:1]

There is a celebrated passage in St. Cyprian, on the subject of the
punishment of lapsed Christians, which certainly seems to express the
same doctrine. "St. Cyprian is arguing in favour of readmitting the
lapsed, when penitent; and his argument seems to be that it does not
follow that we absolve them simply because we simply restore them to the
Church. He writes thus to Antonian: 'It is one thing to stand for
pardon, another to arrive at glory; one to be sent to prison (_missum in
carcerem_) and not to go out till the last farthing be paid, another to
receive at once the reward of faith and virtue; one thing to be
tormented for sin in long pain, and so to be cleansed and purged a long
while by fire (_purgari diu igne_), another to be washed from all sin in
martyrdom; one thing, in short, to wait for the Lord's sentence in the
Day of Judgment, another at once to be crowned by Him.' Some understand
this passage to refer to the penitential discipline of the Church which
was imposed on the penitent; and, as far as the context goes, certainly
no sense could be more apposite. Yet . . . the words in themselves seem
to go beyond any mere ecclesiastical, though virtually divine censure;
especially '_missum in carcerem_' and '_purgari diu igne_.'"[389:1]


The Acts of the Martyrs St. Perpetua and St. Felicitas, which are prior
to St. Cyprian, confirm this interpretation. In the course of the
narrative, St. Perpetua prays for her brother Dinocrates, who had died
at the age of seven; and has a vision of a dark place, and next of a
pool of water, which he was not tall enough to reach. She goes on
praying; and in a second vision the water descended to him, and he was
able to drink, and went to play as children use. "Then I knew," she
says, "that he was translated from his place of punishment."[389:2]

The prayers in the Eucharistic Service for the faithful departed,
inculcate, at least according to the belief of the fourth century, the
same doctrine, that the sins of accepted and elect souls, which were not
expiated here, would receive punishment hereafter. Certainly such was
St. Cyril's belief: "I know that many say," he observes, "what is a soul
profited, which departs from this world either with sins or without
sins, if it be commemorated in the [Eucharistic] Prayer? Now, surely, if
when a king had banished certain who had given him offence, their
connexions should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those
under his vengeance, would he not grant a respite to their punishments?
In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who
have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up
Christ, sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God, both
for them and for ourselves."[390:1]


Thus we see how, as time went on, the doctrine of Purgatory was brought
home to the minds of the faithful as a portion or form of Penance due
for post-baptismal sin. And thus the apprehension of this doctrine and
the practice of Infant Baptism would grow into general reception
together. Cardinal Fisher gives another reason for Purgatory being then
developed out of earlier points of faith. He says, "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."[390:2]


An author, who quotes this passage, analyzes the circumstances and the
reflections which prepared the Christian mind for the doctrine, when it
was first insisted on, and his remarks with a few corrections may be
accepted here. "Most men," he says, "to our apprehensions, are too
little formed in religious habits either for heaven or for hell, yet
there is no middle state when Christ comes in judgment. In consequence
it is obvious to have recourse to the interval before His coming, as a
time during which this incompleteness may be remedied; as a season, not
of changing the spiritual bent and character of the soul departed,
whatever that be, for probation ends with mortal life, but of developing
it in a more determinate form, whether of good or of evil. Again, when
the mind once allows itself to speculate, it will discern in such a
provision a means, whereby those, who, not without true faith at bottom,
yet have committed great crimes, or those who have been carried off in
youth while still undecided, or who die after a barren though not an
immoral or scandalous life, may receive such chastisement as may prepare
them for heaven, and render it consistent with God's justice to admit
them thither. Again, the inequality of the sufferings of Christians in
this life, compared one with another, leads the mind to the same
speculations; the intense suffering, for instance, which some men
undergo on their death-bed, seeming as if but an anticipation in their
case of what comes after death upon others, who, without greater claim
on God's forbearance, live without chastisement, and die easily. The
mind will inevitably dwell upon such thoughts, unless it has been taught
to subdue them by education or by the fear or the experience of their


"Various suppositions have, accordingly, been made, as pure
suppositions, as mere specimens of the capabilities (if one may so
speak) of the Divine Dispensation, as efforts of the mind reaching
forward and venturing beyond its depth into the abyss of the Divine
Counsels. If one supposition could be hazarded, sufficient to solve the
problem, the existence of ten thousand others is conceivable, unless
indeed the resources of God's Providence are exactly commensurate with
man's discernment of them. Religious men, amid these searchings of
heart, have naturally gone to Scripture for relief; to see if the
inspired word anywhere gave them any clue for their inquiries. And from
what was there found, and from the speculations of reason upon it,
various notions have been hazarded at different times; for instance,
that there is a certain momentary ordeal to be undergone by all men
after this life, more or less severe according to their spiritual
state; or that certain gross sins in good men will be thus visited, or
their lighter failings and habitual imperfections; or that the very
sight of Divine Perfection in the invisible world will be in itself a
pain, while it constitutes the purification of the imperfect but
believing soul; or that, happiness admitting of various degrees of
intensity, penitents late in life may sink for ever into a state,
blissful as far as it goes, but more or less approaching to
unconsciousness; and infants dying after baptism may be as gems paving
the courts of heaven, or as the living wheels of the Prophet's vision;
while matured Saints may excel in capacity of bliss, as well as in
dignity, the highest Archangels.


"Now, as to the punishments and satisfactions for sin, the texts to
which the minds of the early Christians seem to have been principally
drawn, and from which they ventured to argue in behalf of these vague
notions, were these two: 'The fire shall try every man's work,' &c., and
'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' These
passages, with which many more were found to accord, directed their
thoughts one way, as making mention of 'fire,' whatever was meant by the
word, as the instrument of trial and purification; and that, at some
time between the present time and the Judgment, or at the Judgment.

"As the doctrine, thus suggested by certain striking texts, grew in
popularity and definiteness, and verged towards its present Roman form,
it seemed a key to many others. Great portions of the books of Psalms,
Job, and the Lamentations, which express the feelings of religious men
under suffering, would powerfully recommend it by the forcible and most
affecting and awful meaning which they received from it. When this was
once suggested, all other meanings would seem tame and inadequate.

"To these may be added various passages from the Prophets, as that in
the beginning of the third chapter of Malachi, which speaks of fire as
the instrument of judgment and purification, when Christ comes to visit
His Church.

"Moreover, there were other texts of obscure and indeterminate bearing,
which seemed on this hypothesis to receive a profitable meaning; such as
our Lord's words in the Sermon on the Mount, 'Verily, I say unto thee,
thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost
farthing;' and St. John's expression in the Apocalypse, that 'no man in
heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the


When then an answer had to be made to the question, how is
post-baptismal sin to be remitted, there was an abundance of passages in
Scripture to make easy to the faith of the inquirer the definitive
decision of the Church.

§ 5. _Meritorious Works._

The doctrine of post-baptismal sin, especially when realized in the
doctrine of Purgatory, leads the inquirer to fresh developments beyond
itself. Its effect is to convert a Scripture statement, which might seem
only of temporary application, into a universal and perpetual truth.
When St. Paul and St. Barnabas would "confirm the souls of the
disciples," they taught them "that we must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God." It is obvious what very practical
results would follow on such an announcement, in the instance of those
who simply accepted the Apostolic decision; and in like manner a
conviction that sin must have its punishment, here or hereafter, and
that we all must suffer, how overpowering will be its effect, what a new
light does it cast on the history of the soul, what a change does it
make in our judgment of the external world, what a reversal of our
natural wishes and aims for the future! Is a doctrine conceivable which
would so elevate the mind above this present state, and teach it so
successfully to dare difficult things, and to be reckless of danger and
pain? He who believes that suffer he must, and that delayed punishment
may be the greater, will be above the world, will admire nothing, fear
nothing, desire nothing. He has within his breast a source of greatness,
self-denial, heroism. This is the secret spring of strenuous efforts and
persevering toil, of the sacrifice of fortune, friends, ease,
reputation, happiness. There is, it is true, a higher class of motives
which will be felt by the Saint; who will do from love what all
Christians, who act acceptably, do from faith. And, moreover, the
ordinary measures of charity which Christians possess, suffice for
securing such respectable attention to religious duties as the routine
necessities of the Church require. But if we would raise an army of
devoted men to resist the world, to oppose sin and error, to relieve
misery, or to propagate the truth, we must be provided with motives
which keenly affect the many. Christian love is too rare a gift,
philanthropy is too weak a material, for the occasion. Nor is there an
influence to be found to suit our purpose, besides this solemn
conviction, which arises out of the very rudiments of Christian
theology, and is taught by its most ancient masters,--this sense of the
awfulness of post-baptismal sin. It is in vain to look out for
missionaries for China or Africa, or evangelists for our great towns, or
Christian attendants on the sick, or teachers of the ignorant, on such a
scale of numbers as the need requires, without the doctrine of
Purgatory. For thus the sins of youth are turned to account by the
profitable penance of manhood; and terrors, which the philosopher scorns
in the individual, become the benefactors and earn the gratitude of

§ 6. _The Monastic Rule._

But there is one form of Penance which has been more prevalent and
uniform than any other, out of which the forms just noticed have grown,
or on which they have been engrafted,--the Monastic Rule. In the first
ages, the doctrine of the punishments of sin, whether in this world or
in the next, was little called for. The rigid discipline of the infant
Church was the preventive of greater offences, and its persecutions the
penance of their commission; but when the Canons were relaxed and
confessorship ceased, then some substitute was needed, and such was
Monachism, being at once a sort of continuation of primeval innocence,
and a school of self-chastisement. And, as it is a great principle in
economical and political science that everything should be turned to
account, and there should be no waste, so, in the instance of
Christianity, the penitential observances of individuals, which were
necessarily on a large scale as its professors increased, took the form
of works, whether for the defence of the Church, or the spiritual and
temporal good of mankind.


In no aspect of the Divine system do we see more striking developments
than in the successive fortunes of Monachism. Little did the youth
Antony foresee, when he set off to fight the evil one in the wilderness,
what a sublime and various history he was opening, a history which had
its first developments even in his own lifetime. He was himself a
hermit in the desert; but when others followed his example, he was
obliged to give them guidance, and thus he found himself, by degrees, at
the head of a large family of solitaries, five thousand of whom were
scattered in the district of Nitria alone. He lived to see a second
stage in the development; the huts in which they lived were brought
together, sometimes round a church, and a sort of subordinate community,
or college, formed among certain individuals of their number. St.
Pachomius was the first who imposed a general rule of discipline upon
the brethren, gave them a common dress, and set before them the objects
to which the religious life was dedicated. Manual labour, study,
devotion, bodily mortification, were now their peculiarities; and the
institution, thus defined, spread and established itself through Eastern
and Western Christendom.

The penitential character of Monachism is not prominent in St. Antony,
though it is distinctly noticed by Pliny in his description of the
Essenes of the Dead Sea, who anticipated the monastic life at the rise
of Christianity. In St. Basil, however, it becomes a distinguishing
feature;--so much so that the monastic profession was made a
disqualification for the pastoral office,[396:1] and in theory involved
an absolute separation from mankind; though in St. Basil's, as well as
St. Antony's disciples, it performed the office of resisting heresy.

Next, the monasteries, which in their ecclesiastical capacity had been
at first separate churches under a Presbyter or Abbot, became schools
for the education of the clergy.[396:2]


Centuries passed, and after many extravagant shapes of the institution,
and much wildness and insubordination in its members, a new development
took place under St. Benedict. Revising and digesting the provisions of
St. Antony, St. Pachomius, and St. Basil, he bound together his monks by
a perpetual vow, brought them into the cloister, united the separate
convents into one Order,[397:1] and added objects of an ecclesiastical
and civil nature to that of personal edification. Of these objects,
agriculture seemed to St. Benedict himself of first importance; but in a
very short time it was superseded by study and education, and the
monasteries of the following centuries became the schools and libraries,
and the monks the chroniclers and copyists, of a dark period. Centuries
later, the Benedictine Order was divided into separate Congregations,
and propagated in separate monastic bodies. The Congregation of Cluni
was the most celebrated of the former; and of the latter, the hermit
order of the Camaldoli and the agricultural Cistercians.


Both a unity and an originality are observable in the successive phases
under which Monachism has shown itself; and while its developments bring
it more and more into the ecclesiastical system, and subordinate it to
the governing power, they are true to their first idea, and spring fresh
and fresh from the parent stock, which from time immemorial had thriven
in Syria and Egypt. The sheepskin and desert of St. Antony did but
revive "the mantle"[397:2] and the mountain of the first Carmelite, and
St. Basil's penitential exercises had already been practised by the
Therapeutæ. In like manner the Congregational principle, which is
ascribed to St. Benedict, had been anticipated by St. Antony and St.
Pachomius; and after centuries of disorder, another function of early
Monachism, for which there had been little call for centuries, the
defence of Catholic truth, was exercised with singular success by the
rival orders of Dominicans and Franciscans.

St. Benedict had come as if to preserve a principle of civilization, and
a refuge for learning, at a time when the old framework of society was
falling, and new political creations were taking their place. And when
the young intellect within them began to stir, and a change of another
kind discovered itself, then appeared St. Francis and St. Dominic to
teach and chastise it; and in proportion as Monachism assumed this
public office, so did the principle of penance, which had been the chief
characteristic of its earlier forms, hold a less prominent place. The
Tertiaries indeed, or members of the third order of St. Francis and St.
Dominic, were penitents; but the friar himself, instead of a penitent,
was made a priest, and was allowed to quit cloister. Nay, they assumed
the character of what may be called an Ecumenical Order, as being
supported by begging, not by endowments, and being under the
jurisdiction, not of the local Bishop, but of the Holy See. The
Dominicans too came forward especially as a learned body, and as
entrusted with the office of preaching, at a time when the mind of
Europe seemed to be developing into infidelity. They filled the chairs
at the Universities, while the strength of the Franciscans lay among the
lower orders.


At length, in the last era of ecclesiastical revolution, another
principle of early Monachism, which had been but partially developed,
was brought out into singular prominence in the history of the Jesuits.
"Obedience," said an ancient abbot, "is a monk's service, with which he
shall be heard in prayer, and shall stand with confidence by the
Crucified, for so the Lord came to the cross, being made obedient even
unto death;"[399:1] but it was reserved for modern times to furnish the
perfect illustration of this virtue, and to receive the full blessing
which follows it. The great Society, which bears no earthly name, still
more secular in its organization, and still more simply dependent on the
See of St. Peter, has been still more distinguished than any Order
before it for the rule of obedience, while it has compensated the danger
of its free intercourse with the world by its scientific adherence to
devotional exercises. The hermitage, the cloister, the inquisitor, and
the friar were suited to other states of society; with the Jesuits, as
well as with the religious Communities, which are their juniors,
usefulness, secular and religious, literature, education, the
confessional, preaching, the oversight of the poor, missions, the care
of the sick, have been chief objects of attention; great cities have
been the scene of operation: bodily austerities and the ceremonial of
devotion have been made of but secondary importance. Yet it may fairly
be questioned, whether, in an intellectual age, when freedom both of
thought and of action is so dearly prized, a greater penance can be
devised for the soldier of Christ than the absolute surrender of
judgment and will to the command of another.


[385:1] Gieseler, Text-book, vol. i. p. 108.

[385:2] Gieseler, ibid. p. 164.

[385:3] Socr. Hist. i. 10.

[387:1] Hom. 14, in 2 Cor. fin.

[387:2] Vid. Tertull. Oxf. tr. pp. 374, 5.

[388:1] Clem. ch. 12. Vid. also Tertull. de Anim. fin.

[389:1] Tracts for the Times, No. 79, p. 38.

[389:2] Ruinart, Mart. p. 96.

[390:1] Mystagog. 5.

[390:2] [Vid. Via Media, vol. i. p 72.]

[393:1] [Via Media, vol. i. pp. 174-177.]

[396:1] Gieseler, vol. ii. p. 288.

[396:2] Ibid. p. 279.

[397:1] Or rather his successors, as St. Benedict of Anian, were the
founders of the Order; but minute accuracy on these points is
unnecessary in a mere sketch of the history.

[397:2] μηλωτής, 2 Kings ii. Sept. Vid. also, "They wandered about in
sheepskins and goatskins" (Heb. xi. 37).

[399:1] Rosweyde, V. P. p. 618.




It has been set down above as a fifth argument in favour of the fidelity
of developments, ethical or political, if the doctrine from which they
have proceeded has, in any early stage of its history, given indications
of those opinions and practices in which it has ended. Supposing then
the so-called Catholic doctrines and practices are true and legitimate
developments, and not corruptions, we may expect from the force of logic
to find instances of them in the first centuries. And this I conceive to
be the case: the records indeed of those times are scanty, and we have
little means of determining what daily Christian life then was: we know
little of the thoughts, and the prayers, and the meditations, and the
discourses of the early disciples of Christ, at a time when these
professed developments were not recognized and duly located in the
theological system; yet it appears, even from what remains, that the
atmosphere of the Church was, as it were, charged with them from the
first, and delivered itself of them from time to time, in this way or
that, in various places and persons, as occasion elicited them,
testifying the presence of a vast body of thought within it, which one
day would take shape and position.

§ 1. _Resurrection and Relics._

As a chief specimen of what I am pointing out, I will direct attention
to a characteristic principle of Christianity, whether in the East or in
the West, which is at present both a special stumbling-block and a
subject of scoffing with Protestants and free-thinkers of every shade
and colour: I mean the devotions which both Greeks and Latins show
towards bones, blood, the heart, the hair, bits of clothes, scapulars,
cords, medals, beads, and the like, and the miraculous powers which they
often ascribe to them. Now, the principle from which these beliefs and
usages proceed is the doctrine that Matter is susceptible of grace, or
capable of a union with a Divine Presence and influence. This principle,
as we shall see, was in the first age both energetically manifested and
variously developed; and that chiefly in consequence of the
diametrically opposite doctrine of the schools and the religions of the
day. And thus its exhibition in that primitive age becomes also an
instance of a statement often made in controversy, that the profession
and the developments of a doctrine are according to the emergency of the
time, and that silence at a certain period implies, not that it was not
then held, but that it was not questioned.


Christianity began by considering Matter as a creature of God, and in
itself "very good." It taught that Matter, as well as Spirit, had become
corrupt, in the instance of Adam; and it contemplated its recovery. It
taught that the Highest had taken a portion of that corrupt mass upon
Himself, in order to the sanctification of the whole; that, as a
firstfruits of His purpose, He had purified from all sin that very
portion of it which He took into His Eternal Person, and thereunto had
taken it from a Virgin Womb, which He had filled with the abundance of
His Spirit. Moreover, it taught that during His earthly sojourn He had
been subject to the natural infirmities of man, and had suffered from
those ills to which flesh is heir. It taught that the Highest had in
that flesh died on the Cross, and that His blood had an expiatory power;
moreover, that He had risen again in that flesh, and had carried that
flesh with Him into heaven, and that from that flesh, glorified and
deified in Him, He never would be divided. As a first consequence of
these awful doctrines comes that of the resurrection of the bodies of
His Saints, and of their future glorification with Him; next, that of
the sanctity of their relics; further, that of the merit of Virginity;
and, lastly, that of the prerogatives of Mary, Mother of God. All these
doctrines are more or less developed in the Ante-nicene period, though
in very various degrees, from the nature of the case.


And they were all objects of offence or of scorn to philosophers,
priests, or populace of the day. With varieties of opinions which need
not be mentioned, it was a fundamental doctrine in the schools, whether
Greek or Oriental, that Matter was essentially evil. It had not been
created by the Supreme God; it was in eternal enmity with Him; it was
the source of all pollution; and it was irreclaimable. Such was the
doctrine of Platonist, Gnostic, and Manichee:--whereas then St. John had
laid it down that "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is
come in the flesh is the spirit of Antichrist:" the Gnostics obstinately
denied the Incarnation, and held that Christ was but a phantom, or had
come on the man Jesus at his baptism, and left him at his passion. The
one great topic of preaching with Apostles and Evangelists was the
Resurrection of Christ and of all mankind after Him; but when the
philosophers of Athens heard St. Paul, "some mocked," and others
contemptuously put aside the doctrine. The birth from a Virgin implied,
not only that the body was not intrinsically evil, but that one state of
it was holier than another, and St. Paul explained that, while marriage
was good, celibacy was better; but the Gnostics, holding the utter
malignity of Matter, one and all condemned marriage as sinful, and,
whether they observed continence or not, or abstained from eating flesh
or not, maintained that all functions of our animal nature were evil and


"Perish the thought," says Manes, "that our Lord Jesus Christ should
have descended through the womb of a woman." "He descended," says
Marcion, "but without touching her or taking aught from her." "Through
her, not of her," said another. "It is absurd to assert," says a
disciple of Bardesanes, "that this flesh in which we are imprisoned
shall rise again, for it is well called a burden, a tomb, and a chain."
"They execrate the funeral-pile," says Cæcilius, speaking of Christians,
"as if bodies, though withdrawn from the flames, did not all resolve
into dust by years, whether beasts tear, or sea swallows, or earth
covers, or flame wastes." According to the old Paganism, both the
educated and vulgar held corpses and sepulchres in aversion. They
quickly rid themselves of the remains even of their friends, thinking
their presence a pollution, and felt the same terror even of
burying-places which assails the ignorant and superstitious now. It is
recorded of Hannibal that, on his return to the African coast from
Italy, he changed his landing-place to avoid a ruined sepulchre. "May
the god who passes between heaven and hell," says Apuleius in his
_Apology_, "present to thy eyes, O Emilian, all that haunts the night,
all that alarms in burying-places, all that terrifies in tombs." George
of Cappadocia could not direct a more bitter taunt against the
Alexandrian Pagans than to call the temple of Serapis a sepulchre. The
case had been the same even among the Jews; the Rabbins taught, that
even the corpses of holy men "did but serve to diffuse infection and
defilement." "When deaths were Judaical," says the writer who goes under
the name of St. Basil, "corpses were an abomination; when death is for
Christ, the relics of Saints are precious. It was anciently said to the
Priests and the Nazarites, 'If any one shall touch a corpse, he shall be
unclean till evening, and he shall wash his garment;' now, on the
contrary, if any one shall touch a Martyr's bones, by reason of the
grace dwelling in the body, he receives some participation of his
sanctity."[404:1] Nay, Christianity taught a reverence for the bodies
even of heathen. The care of the dead is one of the praises which, as we
have seen above, is extorted in their favour from the Emperor Julian;
and it was exemplified during the mortality which spread through the
Roman world in the time of St. Cyprian. "They did good," says Pontius of
the Christians of Carthage, "in the profusion of exuberant works to all,
and not only to the household of faith. They did somewhat more than is
recorded of the incomparable benevolence of Tobias. The slain of the
king and the outcasts, whom Tobias gathered together, were of his own
kin only."[404:2]


Far more of course than such general reverence was the honour that they
showed to the bodies of the Saints. They ascribed virtue to their
martyred tabernacles, and treasured, as something supernatural, their
blood, their ashes, and their bones. When St. Cyprian was beheaded, his
brethren brought napkins to soak up his blood. "Only the harder portion
of the holy relics remained," say the Acts of St. Ignatius, who was
exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre, "which were conveyed to
Antioch, and deposited in linen, bequeathed, by the grace that was in
the Martyr, to that holy Church as a priceless treasure." The Jews
attempted to deprive the brethren of St. Polycarp's body, "lest, leaving
the Crucified, they begin to worship him," say his Acts; "ignorant,"
they continue, "that we can never leave Christ;" and they add, "We,
having taken up his bones which were more costly than precious stones,
and refined more than gold, deposited them where was fitting; and there
when we meet together, as we can, the Lord will grant us to celebrate
with joy and gladness the birthday of his martyrdom." On one occasion in
Palestine, the Imperial authorities disinterred the bodies and cast them
into the sea, "lest as their opinion went," says Eusebius, "there should
be those who in their sepulchres and monuments might think them gods,
and treat them with divine worship."

Julian, who had been a Christian, and knew the Christian history more
intimately than a mere infidel would know it, traces the superstition,
as he considers it, to the very lifetime of St. John, that is, as early
as there were Martyrs to honour; makes the honour paid them
contemporaneous with the worship paid to our Lord, and equally distinct
and formal; and, moreover, declares that first it was secret, which for
various reasons it was likely to have been. "Neither Paul," he says,
"nor Matthew, nor Luke, nor Mark, dared to call Jesus God; but honest
John, having perceived that a great multitude had been caught by this
disease in many of the Greek and Italian cities, and hearing, I suppose,
that the monuments of Peter and Paul were, secretly indeed, but still
hearing that they were honoured, first dared to say it." "Who can feel
fitting abomination?" he says elsewhere; "you have filled all places
with tombs and monuments, though it has been nowhere told you to tumble
down at tombs or to honour them. . . . . If Jesus said that they were
full of uncleanness, why do ye invoke God at them?" The tone of Faustus
the Manichæan is the same. "Ye have turned," he says to St. Augustine,
"the idols" of the heathen "into your Martyrs, whom ye honour
(_colitis_) with similar prayers (_votis_)."[406:1]


It is remarkable that the attention of both Christians and their
opponents turned from the relics of the Martyrs to their persons.
Basilides at least, who was founder of one of the most impious Gnostic
sects, spoke of them with disrespect; he considered that their
sufferings were the penalty of secret sins or evil desires, or
transgressions committed in another body, and a sign of divine favour
only because they were allowed to connect them with the cause of
Christ.[406:2] On the other hand, it was the doctrine of the Church that
Martyrdom was meritorious, that it had a certain supernatural efficacy
in it, and that the blood of the Saints received from the grace of the
One Redeemer a certain expiatory power. Martyrdom stood in the place of
Baptism, where the Sacrament had not been administered. It exempted the
soul from all preparatory waiting, and gained its immediate admittance
into glory. "All crimes are pardoned for the sake of this work," says

And in proportion to the near approach of the martyrs to their Almighty
Judge, was their high dignity and power. St. Dionysius speaks of their
reigning with Christ; Origen even conjectures that "as we are redeemed
by the precious blood of Jesus, so some are redeemed by the precious
blood of the Martyrs." St. Cyprian seems to explain his meaning when he
says, "We believe that the merits of Martyrs and the works of the just
avail much with the Judge," that is, for those who were lapsed, "when,
after the end of this age and the world, Christ's people shall stand
before His judgment-seat." Accordingly they were considered to intercede
for the Church militant in their state of glory, and for individuals
whom they had known. St. Potamiæna of Alexandria, in the first years of
the third century, when taken out for execution, promised to obtain
after her departure the salvation of the officer who led her out; and
did appear to him, according to Eusebius, on the third day, and
prophesied his own speedy martyrdom. And St. Theodosia in Palestine came
to certain confessors who were in bonds, "to request them," as Eusebius
tells us, "to remember her when they came to the Lord's Presence."
Tertullian, when a Montanist, betrays the existence of the doctrine in
the Catholic body by protesting against it.[407:1]

§ 2. _The Virgin Life._

Next to the prerogatives of bodily suffering or Martyrdom came, in the
estimation of the early Church, the prerogatives of bodily, as well as
moral, purity or Virginity; another form of the general principle which
I am here illustrating. "The first reward," says St. Cyprian to the
Virgins, "is for the Martyrs an hundredfold; the second, sixtyfold, is
for yourselves."[407:2] Their state and its merit is recognized by a
_consensus_ of the Ante-nicene writers; of whom Athenagoras distinctly
connects Virginity with the privilege of divine communion: "You will
find many of our people," he says to the Emperor Marcus, "both men and
women, grown old in their single state, in hope thereby of a closer
union with God."[408:1]


Among the numerous authorities which might be cited, I will confine
myself to a work, elaborate in itself, and important from its author.
St. Methodius was a Bishop and Martyr of the latter years of the
Ante-nicene period, and is celebrated as the most variously endowed
divine of his day. His learning, elegance in composition, and eloquence,
are all commemorated.[408:2] The work in question, the _Convivium
Virginum_, is a conference in which ten Virgins successively take part,
in praise of the state of life to which they have themselves been
specially called. I do not wish to deny that there are portions of it
which strangely grate upon the feelings of an age, which is formed on
principles of which marriage is the centre. But here we are concerned
with its doctrine. Of the speakers in this Colloquy, three at least are
real persons prior to St. Methodius's time; of these Thecla, whom
tradition associates with St. Paul, is one, and Marcella, who in the
Roman Breviary is considered to be St. Martha's servant, and who is said
to have been the woman who exclaimed, "Blessed is the womb that bare
Thee," &c., is described as a still older servant of Christ. The latter
opens the discourse, and her subject is the gradual development of the
doctrine of Virginity in the Divine Dispensations; Theophila, who
follows, enlarges on the sanctity of Matrimony, with which the special
glory of the higher state does not interfere; Thalia discourses on the
mystical union which exists between Christ and His Church, and on the
seventh chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians; Theopatra on
the merit of Virginity; Thallusa exhorts to a watchful guardianship of
the gift; Agatha shows the necessity of other virtues and good works, in
order to the real praise of their peculiar profession; Procilla extols
Virginity as the special instrument of becoming a spouse of Christ;
Thecla treats of it as the great combatant in the warfare between heaven
and hell, good and evil; Tysiana with reference to the Resurrection; and
Domnina allegorizes Jothan's parable in Judges ix. Virtue, who has been
introduced as the principal personage in the representation from the
first, closes the discussion with an exhortation to inward purity, and
they answer her by an hymn to our Lord as the Spouse of His Saints.


It is observable that St. Methodius plainly speaks of the profession of
Virginity as a vow. "I will explain," says one of his speakers, "how we
are dedicated to the Lord. What is enacted in the Book of Numbers, 'to
vow a vow mightily,' shows what I am insisting on at great length, that
Chastity is a mighty vow beyond all vows."[409:1] This language is not
peculiar to St. Methodius among the Ante-nicene Fathers. "Let such as
promise Virginity and break their profession be ranked among digamists,"
says the Council of Ancyra in the beginning of the fourth century.
Tertullian speaks of being "married to Christ," and marriage implies a
vow; he proceeds, "to Him thou hast pledged (_sponsasti_) thy ripeness
of age;" and before he had expressly spoken of the _continentiæ votum_.
Origen speaks of "devoting one's body to God" in chastity; and St.
Cyprian "of Christ's Virgin, dedicated to Him and destined for His
sanctity," and elsewhere of "members dedicated to Christ, and for ever
devoted by virtuous chastity to the praise of continence;" and Eusebius
of those "who had consecrated themselves body and soul to a pure and
all-holy life."[410:1]

§ 3. _Cultus of Saints and Angels._

The Spanish Church supplies us with an anticipation of the later
devotions to Saints and Angels. The Canons are extant of a Council of
Illiberis, held shortly before the Council of Nicæa, and representative
of course of the doctrine of the third century. Among these occurs the
following: "It is decreed, that pictures ought not to be in church, lest
what is worshipped or adored be painted on the walls."[410:2] Now these
words are commonly taken to be decisive against the use of pictures in
the Spanish Church at that era. Let us grant it; let us grant that the
use of all pictures is forbidden, pictures not only of our Lord, and
sacred emblems, as of the Lamb and the Dove, but pictures of Angels and
Saints also. It is not fair to restrict the words, nor are
controversialists found desirous of doing so; they take them to include
the images of the Saints. "For keeping of pictures out of the Church,
the Canon of the Eliberine or Illiberitine Council, held in Spain, about
the time of Constantine the Great, is most plain,"[410:3] says Ussher:
he is speaking of "the representations of God and of Christ, and of
Angels and of Saints."[410:4] "The Council of Eliberis is very ancient,
and of great fame," says Taylor, "in which it is expressly forbidden
that what is worshipped should be depicted on the walls, and that
therefore pictures ought not to be in churches."[411:1] He too is
speaking of the Saints. I repeat, let us grant this freely. This
inference then seems to be undeniable, that the Spanish Church
considered the Saints to be in the number of objects either of "worship
or adoration;" for it is of such objects that the representations are
forbidden. The very drift of the prohibition is this,--_lest_ what is in
itself an object of worship (_quod colitur_) should be worshipped _in
painting_; unless then Saints and Angels were objects of worship, their
pictures would have been allowed.


This mention of Angels leads me to a memorable passage about the honour
due to them in Justin Martyr.

St. Justin, after "answering the charge of Atheism," as Dr. Burton says,
"which was brought against Christians of his day, and observing that
they were punished for not worshipping evil demons which were not really
gods," continues, "But Him, (God,) and the Son who came from Him, and
taught us these things, and the host of the other good Angels who follow
and resemble Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, paying
them a reasonable and true honour, and not grudging to deliver to any
one, who wishes to learn, as we ourselves have been taught."[411:2]

A more express testimony to the _cultus Angelorum_ cannot be required;
nor is it unnatural in the connexion in which it occurs, considering St.
Justin has been speaking of the heathen worship of demons, and therefore
would be led without effort to mention, not only the incommunicable
adoration paid to the One God, who "will not give His glory to another,"
but such inferior honour as may be paid to creatures, without sin on the
side whether of giver or receiver. Nor is the construction of the
original Greek harsher than is found in other authors; nor need it
surprise us in one whose style is not accurate, that two words should be
used in combination to express worship, and that one should include
Angels, and that the other should not.


The following is Dr. Burton's account of the passage:

"Scultetus, a Protestant divine of Heidelberg, in his _Medulla Theologiæ
Patrum_, which appeared in 1605, gave a totally different meaning to the
passage; and instead of connecting '_the host_' with '_we worship_,'
connected it with '_taught us_.' The words would then be rendered thus:
'But Him, and the Son who came from Him, who also gave us instructions
concerning these things, and concerning the host of the other good
angels we worship,' &c. This interpretation is adopted and defended at
some length by Bishop Bull, and by Stephen Le Moyne; and even the
Benedictine Le Nourry supposed Justin to mean that Christ had taught us
not to worship the bad angels, as well as the existence of good angels.
Grabe, in his edition of 'Justin's Apology,' which was printed in 1703,
adopted another interpretation, which had been before proposed by Le
Moyne and by Cave. This also connects '_the host_' with '_taught_,' and
would require us to render the passage thus: '. . . and the Son who came
from Him, who also taught these things to us, and to the host of the
other Angels,' &c. It might be thought that Langus, who published a
Latin translation of Justin in 1565, meant to adopt one of these
interpretations, or at least to connect '_host_' with '_taught these
things_.' Both of them certainly are ingenious, and are not perhaps
opposed to the literal construction of the Greek words; but I cannot say
that they are satisfactory, or that I am surprised at Roman Catholic
writers describing them as forced and violent attempts to evade a
difficulty. If the words enclosed in brackets were removed, the whole
passage would certainly contain a strong argument in favour of the
Trinity; but as they now stand, Roman Catholic writers will naturally
quote them as supporting the worship of Angels.

"There is, however, this difficulty in such a construction of the
passage: it proves too much. By coupling the Angels with the three
persons of the Trinity, as objects of religious adoration, it seems to
go beyond even what Roman Catholics themselves would maintain concerning
the worship of Angels. Their well-known distinction between _latria_ and
_dulia_ would be entirely confounded; and the difficulty felt by the
Benedictine editor appears to have been as great, as his attempt to
explain it is unsuccessful, when he wrote as follows: 'Our adversaries
in vain object the twofold expression, _we worship and adore_. For the
former is applied to Angels themselves, regard being had to the
distinction between the creature and the Creator; the latter by no means
necessarily includes the Angels.' This sentence requires concessions,
which no opponent could be expected to make; and if one of the two
terms, _we worship_ and _adore_, may be applied to Angels, it is
unreasonable to contend that the other must not also. Perhaps, however,
the passage may be explained so as to admit a distinction of this kind.
The interpretations of Scultetus and Grabe have not found many
advocates; and upon the whole I should be inclined to conclude, that the
clause, which relates to the Angels, is connected particularly with the
words, '_paying them a reasonable and true honour_.'"[414:1]

Two violent alterations of the text have also been proposed: one to
transfer the clause which creates the difficulty, after the words
_paying them honour_; the other to substitute στρατηγὸν (_commander_)
for στρατὸν (_host_).


Presently Dr. Burton continues:--"Justin, as I observed, is defending
the Christians from the charge of Atheism; and after saying that the
gods, whom they refused to worship, were no gods, but evil demons, he
points out what were the Beings who were worshipped by the Christians.
He names the true God, who is the source of all virtue; the Son, who
proceeded from Him; the good and ministering spirits; and the Holy
Ghost. To these Beings, he says, we pay all the worship, adoration, and
honour, which is due to each of them; _i. e._ worship where worship is
due, honour where honour is due. The Christians were accused of
worshipping no gods, that is, of acknowledging no superior beings at
all. Justin shows that so far was this from being true, that they
acknowledged more than one order of spiritual Beings; they offered
divine worship to the true God, and they also believed in the existence
of good spirits, which were entitled to honour and respect. If the
reader will view the passage as a whole, he will perhaps see that there
is nothing violent in thus restricting the words _worship and adore_,
and _honouring_, to certain parts of it respectively. It may seem
strange that Justin should mention the ministering spirits before the
Holy Ghost: but this is a difficulty which presses upon the Roman
Catholics as much as upon ourselves; and we may perhaps adopt the
explanation of the Bishop of Lincoln,[414:2] who says, 'I have sometimes
thought that in this passage, "_and the host_," is equivalent to "_with
the host_," and that Justin had in his mind the glorified state of
Christ, when He should come to judge the world, surrounded by the host
of heaven.' The bishop then brings several passages from Justin, where
the Son of God is spoken of as attended by a company of Angels; and if
this idea was then in Justin's mind, it might account for his naming the
ministering spirits immediately after the Son of God, rather than after
the Holy Ghost, which would have been the natural and proper

This passage of St. Justin is the more remarkable, because it cannot be
denied that there was a worship of the Angels at that day, of which St.
Paul speaks, which was Jewish and Gnostic, and utterly reprobated by the

§ 4. _Office of the Blessed Virgin._

The special prerogatives of St. Mary, the _Virgo Virginum_, are
intimately involved in the doctrine of the Incarnation itself, with
which these remarks began, and have already been dwelt upon above. As is
well known, they were not fully recognized in the Catholic ritual till a
late date, but they were not a new thing in the Church, or strange to
her earlier teachers. St. Justin, St. Irenæus, and others, had
distinctly laid it down, that she not only had an office, but bore a
part, and was a voluntary agent, in the actual process of redemption, as
Eve had been instrumental and responsible in Adam's fall. They taught
that, as the first woman might have foiled the Tempter and did not, so,
if Mary had been disobedient or unbelieving on Gabriel's message, the
Divine Economy would have been frustrated. And certainly the parallel
between "the Mother of all living" and the Mother of the Redeemer may be
gathered from a comparison of the first chapters of Scripture with the
last. It was noticed in a former place, that the only passage where the
serpent is directly identified with the evil spirit occurs in the
twelfth chapter of the Revelation; now it is observable that the
recognition, when made, is found in the course of a vision of a "woman
clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet:" thus two women are
brought into contrast with each other. Moreover, as it is said in the
Apocalypse, "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went about to make
war with the remnant of her seed," so is it prophesied in Genesis, "I
will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her
Seed. He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." Also
the enmity was to exist, not only between the Serpent and the Seed of
the woman, but between the serpent and the woman herself; and here too
there is a correspondence in the Apocalyptic vision. If then there is
reason for thinking that this mystery at the close of the Scripture
record answers to the mystery in the beginning of it, and that "the
Woman" mentioned in both passages is one and the same, then she can be
none other than St. Mary, thus introduced prophetically to our notice
immediately on the transgression of Eve.


Here, however, we are not so much concerned to interpret Scripture as to
examine the Fathers. Thus St. Justin says, "Eve, being a virgin and
incorrupt, having conceived the word from the Serpent, bore disobedience
and death; but Mary the Virgin, receiving faith and joy, when Gabriel
the Angel evangelized her, answered, 'Be it unto me according to thy
word.'"[416:1] And Tertullian says that, whereas Eve believed the
Serpent, and Mary believed Gabriel, "the fault of Eve in believing, Mary
by believing hath blotted out."[416:2] St. Irenæus speaks more
explicitly: "As Eve," he says . . . "becoming disobedient, became the
cause of death to herself and to all mankind, so Mary too, having the
predestined Man, and yet a Virgin, being obedient, became cause of
salvation both to herself and to all mankind."[417:1] This becomes the
received doctrine in the Post-nicene Church.

One well-known instance occurs in the history of the third century of
St. Mary's interposition, and it is remarkable from the names of the two
persons, who were, one the subject, the other the historian of it. St.
Gregory Nyssen, a native of Cappadocia in the fourth century, relates
that his name-sake Bishop of Neo-cæsarea, surnamed Thaumaturgus, in the
preceding century, shortly before he was called to the priesthood,
received in a vision a Creed, which is still extant, from the Blessed
Virgin at the hands of St. John. The account runs thus: He was deeply
pondering theological doctrine, which the heretics of the day depraved.
"In such thoughts," says his name-sake of Nyssa, "he was passing the
night, when one appeared, as if in human form, aged in appearance,
saintly in the fashion of his garments, and very venerable both in grace
of countenance and general mien. . . . Following with his eyes his
extended hand, he saw another appearance opposite to the former, in
shape of a woman, but more than human. . . . When his eyes could not
bear the apparition, he heard them conversing together on the subject
of his doubts; and thereby not only gained a true knowledge of the
faith, but learned their names, as they addressed each other by their
respective appellations. And thus he is said to have heard the person in
woman's shape bid 'John the Evangelist' disclose to the young man the
mystery of godliness; and he answered that he was ready to comply in
this matter with the wish of 'the Mother of the Lord,' and enunciated a
formulary, well-turned and complete, and so vanished."

Gregory proceeds to rehearse the Creed thus given, "There is One God,
Father of a Living Word," &c.[418:1] Bull, after quoting it in his work
upon the Nicene Faith, refers to this history of its origin, and adds,
"No one should think it incredible that such a providence should befall
a man whose whole life was conspicuous for revelations and miracles, as
all ecclesiastical writers who have mentioned him (and who has not?)
witness with one voice."[418:2]


It is remarkable that St. Gregory Nazianzen relates an instance, even
more pointed, of St. Mary's intercession, contemporaneous with this
appearance to Thaumaturgus; but it is attended with mistake in the
narrative, which weakens its cogency as an evidence of the belief, not
indeed of the fourth century, in which St. Gregory lived, but of the
third. He speaks of a Christian woman having recourse to the protection
of St. Mary, and obtaining the conversion of a heathen who had attempted
to practise on her by magical arts. They were both martyred.

In both these instances the Blessed Virgin appears especially in that
character of Patroness or Paraclete, which St. Irenæus and other Fathers
describe, and which the Medieval Church exhibits,--a loving Mother with


[404:1] Act. Arch. p. 85. Athan. c. Apoll. ii. 3.--Adam. Dial. iii.
init. Minuc. Dial. 11. Apul. Apol. p. 535. Kortholt. Cal. p. 63. Calmet,
Dict. t. 2, p. 736. Basil in Ps. 115, 4.

[404:2] Vit. S. Cypr. 10.

[406:1] Act. Procons. 5. Ruinart, Act. Mart. pp. 22, 44. Euseb. Hist.
viii. 6. Julian, ap. Cyr. pp. 327, 335. August. c. Faust. xx. 4.

[406:2] Clem. Strom. iv. 12.

[407:1] Tertull. Apol. fin. Euseb. Hist. vi. 42. Orig. ad Martyr. 50.
Ruinart, Act. Mart. pp. 122, 323.

[407:2] De Hab. Virg. 12.

[408:1] Athenag. Leg. 33.

[408:2] Lumper, Hist. t. 13, p. 439.

[409:1] Galland. t. 3, p. 670.

[410:1] Routh, Reliqu. t. 3, p. 414. Tertull. de Virg. Vel. 16 and 11.
Orig. in Num. Hom. 24, 2. Cyprian. Ep. 4, p. 8, ed. Fell. Ep. 62, p.
147. Euseb. V. Const. iv. 26.

[410:2] Placuit picturas in ecclesiâ esse non debere, ne quod colitur
aut adoratur, in parietibus depingatur. Can. 36.

[410:3] Answ. to a Jes. 10, p. 437.

[410:4] P. 430. The "colitur _aut_ adoratur" marks a difference of

[411:1] Dissuasive, i. 1, 8.

[411:2] Ἐκεῖνον τε, καὶ τὸν παρ' αὐτοῦ υἱὸν ἐλθόντα καὶ διδάξαντα ἡμᾶς ταῦτα, [καὶ τὸν τῶν
ἄλλων ἑπομένων καὶ ἐξομοιουμένων ἀγαθῶν ἀγγέλων στρατὸν,] πνεῦμα τε τὸ προφητικὸν σεβόμεθα καὶ
προσκυνοῦμεν, λόγῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ τιμῶντες καὶ παντὶ βουλομένῳ μαθεῖν, ὡς ἐδιδαχθημεν, ἀφθόνως
παραδιδόντες.--_Apol._ i. 6. The passage is parallel to the Prayer in the
Breviary: "Sacrosanctæ et individuæ Trinitati, Crucifixi Domini nostri
Jesu Christi humanitati, beatissimæ et gloriosissimæ semperque Virginis
Mariæ fœcundæ integritati, et omnium Sanctorum universitati, sit
sempiterna laus, honor, virtus, et gloria ab omni creaturâ," &c.

[414:1] Test. Trin. pp. 16, 17, 18.

[414:2] Dr. Kaye.

[415:1] Pp. 19-21.

[416:1] Tryph. 100.

[416:2] Carn. Christ. 17.

[417:1] Hær. iii. 22, § 4.

[418:1] Nyss. Opp. t. ii. p. 977.

[418:2] Def. F. N. ii. 12.




It is the general pretext of heretics that they are but serving and
protecting Christianity by their innovations; and it is their charge
against what by this time we may surely call the Catholic Church, that
her successive definitions of doctrine have but overlaid and obscured
it. That is, they assume, what we have no wish to deny, that a true
development is that which is conservative of its original, and a
corruption is that which tends to its destruction. This has already been
set down as a Sixth Test, discriminative of a development from a
corruption, and must now be applied to the Catholic doctrines; though
this Essay has so far exceeded its proposed limits, that both reader and
writer may well be weary, and may content themselves with a brief
consideration of the portions of the subject which remain.

It has been observed already that a strict correspondence between the
various members of a development, and those of the doctrine from which
it is derived, is more than we have any right to expect. The bodily
structure of a grown man is not merely that of a magnified boy; he
differs from what he was in his make and proportions; still manhood is
the perfection of boyhood, adding something of its own, yet keeping
what it finds. "Ut nihil novum," says Vincentius, "proferatur in
senibus, quod non in pueris jam antea latitaverit." This character of
addition,--that is, of a change which is in one sense real and
perceptible, yet without loss or reversal of what was before, but, on
the contrary, protective and confirmative of it,--in many respects and
in a special way belongs to Christianity.



If we take the simplest and most general view of its history, as
existing in an individual mind, or in the Church at large, we shall see
in it an instance of this peculiarity. It is the birth of something
virtually new, because latent in what was before. Thus we know that no
temper of mind is acceptable in the Divine Presence without love; it is
love which makes Christian fear differ from servile dread, and true
faith differ from the faith of devils; yet in the beginning of the
religious life, fear is the prominent evangelical grace, and love is but
latent in fear, and has in course of time to be developed out of what
seems its contradictory. Then, when it is developed, it takes that
prominent place which fear held before, yet protecting not superseding
it. Love is added, not fear removed, and the mind is but perfected in
grace by what seems a revolution. "They that sow in tears, reap in joy;"
yet afterwards still they are "sorrowful," though "alway rejoicing."

And so was it with the Church at large. She started with suffering,
which turned to victory; but when she was set free from the house of her
prison, she did not quit it so much as turn it into a cell. Meekness
inherited the earth; strength came forth from weakness; the poor made
many rich; yet meekness and poverty remained. The rulers of the world
were Monks, when they could not be Martyrs.


Immediately on the overthrow of the heathen power, two movements
simultaneously ran through the world from East to West, as quickly as
the lightning in the prophecy, a development of worship and of
asceticism. Hence, while the world's first reproach in heathen times had
been that Christianity was a dark malevolent magic, its second has been
that it is a joyous carnal paganism;--according to that saying, "We have
piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye
have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they
say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they
say, Behold a man gluttonous and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and
sinners." Yet our Lord too was "a man of sorrows" all the while, but
softened His austerity by His gracious gentleness.


The like characteristic attends also on the mystery of His Incarnation.
He was first God and He became man; but Eutyches and heretics of his
school refused to admit that He was man, lest they should deny that He
was God. In consequence the Catholic Fathers are frequent and unanimous
in their asseverations, that "the Word" had become flesh, not to His
loss, but by an addition. Each Nature is distinct, but the created
Nature lives in and by the Eternal. "Non amittendo quod erat, sed
sumendo quod non erat," is the Church's principle. And hence, though the
course of development, as was observed in a former Chapter, has been to
bring into prominence the divine aspect of our Lord's mediation, this
has been attended by even a more open manifestation of the doctrine of
His atoning sufferings. The passion of our Lord is one of the most
imperative and engrossing subjects of Catholic teaching. It is the great
topic of meditations and prayers; it is brought into continual
remembrance by the sign of the Cross; it is preached to the world in the
Crucifix; it is variously honoured by the many houses of prayer, and
associations of religious men, and pious institutions and undertakings,
which in some way or other are placed under the name and the shadow of
Jesus, or the Saviour, or the Redeemer, or His Cross, or His Passion, or
His sacred Heart.


Here a singular development may be mentioned of the doctrine of the
Cross, which some have thought so contrary to its original
meaning,[422:1] as to be a manifest corruption; I mean the introduction
of the Sign of the meek Jesus into the armies of men, and the use of an
emblem of peace as a protection in battle. If light has no communion
with darkness, or Christ with Belial, what has He to do with Moloch, who
would not call down fire on His enemies, and came not to destroy but to
save? Yet this seeming anomaly is but one instance of a great law which
is seen in developments generally, that changes which appear at first
sight to contradict that out of which they grew, are really its
protection or illustration. Our Lord Himself is represented in the
Prophets as a combatant inflicting wounds while He received them, as
coming from Bozrah with dyed garments, sprinkled and red in His apparel
with the blood of His enemies; and, whereas no war is lawful but what is
just, it surely beseems that they who are engaged in so dreadful a
commission as that of taking away life at the price of their own,
should at least have the support of His Presence, and fight under the
mystical influence of His Name, who redeemed His elect as a combatant by
the Blood of Atonement, with the slaughter of His foes, the sudden
overthrow of the Jews, and the slow and awful fall of the Pagan Empire.
And if the wars of Christian nations have often been unjust, this is a
reason against much more than the use of religious symbols by the
parties who engage in them, though the pretence of religion may increase
the sin.


The same rule of development has been observed in respect of the
doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. It is the objection of the School of
Socinus, that belief in the Trinity is destructive of any true
maintenance of the Divine Unity, however strongly the latter may be
professed; but Petavius, as we have seen,[423:1] sets it down as one
especial recommendation of the Catholic doctrine, that it subserves that
original truth which at first sight it does but obscure and compromise.


This representation of the consistency of the Catholic system will be
found to be true, even in respect of those peculiarities of it, which
have been considered by Protestants most open to the charge of
corruption and innovation. It is maintained, for instance, that the
veneration paid to Images in the Catholic Church directly contradicts
the command of Scripture, and the usage of the primitive ages. As to
primitive usage, that part of the subject has been incidentally observed
upon already; here I will make one remark on the argument from

It may be reasonably questioned, then, whether the Commandment which
stands second in the Protestant Decalogue, on which the prohibition of
Images is grounded, was intended in its letter for more than temporary
observance. So far is certain, that, though none could surpass the later
Jews in its literal observance, nevertheless this did not save them from
the punishments attached to the violation of it. If this be so, the
literal observance is not its true and evangelical import.


"When the generation to come of your children shall rise up after you,"
says their inspired lawgiver, "and the stranger that shall come from a
far land shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and its
sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it; and that the whole land
thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor
beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, . . . even all nations shall
say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? What meaneth the
heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken
the covenants of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them
when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt; for they went and
served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and
whom He had not given them." Now the Jews of our Lord's day did not keep
this covenant, for they incurred the penalty; yet they kept the letter
of the Commandment rigidly, and were known among the heathen far and
wide for their devotion to the "Lord God of their fathers who brought
them out of the land of Egypt," and for their abhorrence of the "gods
whom He had not given them." If then adherence to the letter was no
protection to the Jews, departure from the letter may be no guilt in

It should be observed, moreover, that there certainly is a difference
between the two covenants in their respective view of symbols of the
Almighty. In the Old, it was blasphemy to represent Him under "the
similitude of a calf that eateth hay;" in the New, the Third Person of
the Holy Trinity has signified His Presence by the appearance of a Dove,
and the Second Person has presented His sacred Humanity for worship
under the name of the Lamb.


It follows that, if the letter of the Decalogue is but partially binding
on Christians, it is as justifiable, in setting it before persons under
instruction, to omit such parts as do not apply to them, as, when we
quote passages from the Pentateuch in Sermons or Lectures generally, to
pass over verses which refer simply to the temporal promises or the
ceremonial law, a practice which we allow without any intention or
appearance of dealing irreverently with the sacred text.



It has been anxiously asked, whether the honours paid to St. Mary, which
have grown out of devotion to her Almighty Lord and Son, do not, in
fact, tend to weaken that devotion; and whether, from the nature of the
case, it is possible so to exalt a creature without withdrawing the
heart from the Creator.

In addition to what has been said on this subject in foregoing Chapters,
I would here observe that the question is one of fact, not of
presumption or conjecture. The abstract lawfulness of the honours paid
to St. Mary, and their distinction in theory from the incommunicable
worship paid to God, are points which have already been dwelt upon; but
here the question turns upon their practicability or expedience, which
must be determined by the fact whether they are practicable, and whether
they have been found to be expedient.


Here I observe, first, that, to those who admit the authority of the
Fathers of Ephesus, the question is in no slight degree answered by
their sanction of the θεοτόκος, or "Mother of God," as a title of St.
Mary, and as given in order to protect the doctrine of the Incarnation,
and to preserve the faith of Catholics from a specious Humanitarianism.
And if we take a survey at least of Europe, we shall find that it is not
those religious communions which are characterized by devotion towards
the Blessed Virgin that have ceased to adore her Eternal Son, but those
very bodies, (when allowed by the law,) which have renounced devotion to
her. The regard for His glory, which was professed in that keen jealousy
of her exaltation, has not been supported by the event. They who were
accused of worshipping a creature in His stead, still worship Him; their
accusers, who hoped to worship Him so purely, they, wherever obstacles
to the development of their principles have been removed, have ceased to
worship Him altogether.


Next, it must be observed, that the tone of the devotion paid to the
Blessed Mary is altogether distinct from that which is paid to her
Eternal Son, and to the Holy Trinity, as we must certainly allow on
inspection of the Catholic services. The supreme and true worship paid
to the Almighty is severe, profound, awful, as well as tender,
confiding, and dutiful. Christ is addressed as true God, while He is
true Man; as our Creator and Judge, while He is most loving, gentle, and
gracious. On the other hand, towards St. Mary the language employed is
affectionate and ardent, as towards a mere child of Adam; though
subdued, as coming from her sinful kindred. How different, for instance,
is the tone of the _Dies Iræ_ from that of the _Stabat Mater_. In the
"Tristis et afflicta Mater Unigeniti," in the "Virgo virginum præclara
Mihi jam non sis amara, Pœnas mecum divide," in the "Fac me vere
tecum flere," we have an expression of the feelings with which we regard
one who is a creature and a mere human being; but in the "Rex tremendæ
majestatis qui salvandos salvas gratis, salva me Fons pietatis," the "Ne
me perdas illâ die," the "Juste judex ultionis, donum fac remissionis,"
the "Oro supplex et acclinis, cor contritum quasi cinis," the "Pie Jesu
Domine, dona eis requiem," we hear the voice of the creature raised in
hope and love, yet in deep awe to his Creator, Infinite Benefactor, and

Or again, how distinct is the language of the Breviary Services on the
Festival of Pentecost, or of the Holy Trinity, from the language of the
Services for the Assumption! How indescribably majestic, solemn, and
soothing is the "Veni Creator Spiritus," the "Altissimi donum Dei, Fons
vivus, ignis, charitas," or the "Vera et una Trinitas, una et summa
Deitas, sancta et una Unitas," the "Spes nostra, salus nostra, honor
noster, O beata Trinitas," the "Charitas Pater, gratia Filius,
communicatio Spiritus Sanctus, O beata Trinitas;" "Libera nos, salva
nos, vivifica nos, O beata Trinitas!" How fond, on the contrary, how
full of sympathy and affection, how stirring and animating, in the
Office for the Assumption, is the "Virgo prudentissima, quo progrederis,
quasi aurora valde rutilans? filia Sion, tota formosa et suavis es,
pulcra ut luna, electa ut sol;" the "Sicut dies verni circumdabant eam
flores rosarum, et lilia convallium;" the "Maria Virgo assumpta est ad
æthereum thalamum in quo Rex regum stellato sedet solio;" and the
"Gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum." And so again, the
Antiphon, the "Ad te clamamus exules filii Hevæ, ad te suspiramus
gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle," and "Eia ergo, advocata
nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte," and "O clemens,
O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria." Or the Hymn, "Ave Maris stella, Dei Mater
alma," and "Virgo singularis, inter omnes mitis, nos culpis solutos,
mites fac et castos."


Nor does it avail to object that, in this contrast of devotional
exercises, the human will supplant the Divine, from the infirmity of our
nature; for, I repeat, the question is one of fact, whether it has done
so. And next it must be asked, whether the character of much of the
Protestant devotion towards our Lord has been that of adoration at all;
and not rather such as we pay to an excellent human being, that is, no
higher devotion than that which Catholics pay to St. Mary, differing
from it, however, in often being familiar, rude, and earthly. Carnal
minds will ever create a carnal worship for themselves; and to forbid
them the service of the Saints will have no tendency to teach them the
worship of God.

Moreover, it must be observed, what is very important, that great and
constant as is the devotion which the Catholic pays to the Blessed Mary,
it has a special province, and has far more connexion with the public
services and the festive aspect of Christianity, and with certain
extraordinary offices which she holds, than with what is strictly
personal and primary in religion.

Two instances will serve in illustration of this, and they are but
samples of many others.[428:1]


(1.) For example, St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises are among the most
approved methods of devotion in the modern Catholic Church; they proceed
from one of the most celebrated of her Saints, and have the praise of
Popes, and of the most eminent masters of the spiritual life. A Bull of
Paul the Third's "approves, praises, and sanctions all and everything
contained in them;" indulgences are granted to the performance of them
by the same Pope, by Alexander the Seventh, and by Benedict the
Fourteenth. St. Carlo Borromeo declared that he learned more from them
than from all other books together; St. Francis de Sales calls them "a
holy method of reformation," and they are the model on which all the
extraordinary devotions of religious men or bodies, and the course of
missions, are conducted. If there is a document which is the
authoritative exponent of the inward communion of the members of the
modern Catholic Church with their God and Saviour, it is this work.

The Exercises are directed to the removal of obstacles in the way of the
soul's receiving and profiting by the gifts of God. They undertake to
effect this in three ways; by removing all objects of this world, and,
as it were, bringing the soul "into the solitude where God may speak to
its heart;" next, by setting before it the ultimate end of man, and its
own deviations from it, the beauty of holiness, and the pattern of
Christ; and, lastly, by giving rules for its correction. They consist of
a course of prayers, meditations, self-examinations, and the like, which
in its complete extent lasts thirty days; and these are divided into
three stages,--the _Via Purgativa_, in which sin is the main subject of
consideration; the _Via Illuminativa_, which is devoted to the
contemplation of our Lord's passion, involving the process of the
determination of our calling; and the _Via Unitiva_, in which we proceed
to the contemplation of our Lord's resurrection and ascension.


No more need be added in order to introduce the remark for which I have
referred to these Exercises; viz. that in a work so highly sanctioned,
so widely received, so intimately bearing upon the most sacred points of
personal religion, very slight mention occurs of devotion to the Blessed
Virgin, Mother of God. There is one mention of her in the rule given for
the first Prelude or preparation, in which the person meditating is
directed to consider as before him a church, or other place with Christ
in it, St. Mary, and whatever else is suitable to the subject of
meditation. Another is in the third Exercise, in which one of the three
addresses is made to our Lady, Christ's Mother, requesting earnestly
"her intercession with her Son;" to which is to be added the Ave Mary.
In the beginning of the Second Week there is a form of offering
ourselves to God in the presence of "His infinite goodness," and with
the witness of His "glorious Virgin Mother Mary, and the whole host of
heaven." At the end of the Meditation upon the Angel Gabriel's mission
to St. Mary, there is an address to each Divine Person, to "the Word
Incarnate and to His Mother." In the Meditation upon the Two Standards,
there is an address prescribed to St. Mary to implore grace from her Son
through her, with an Ave Mary after it.

In the beginning of the Third Week one address is prescribed to Christ;
or three, if devotion incites, to Mother, Son, and Father. In the
description given of three different modes of prayer we are told, if we
would imitate the Blessed Mary, we must recommend ourselves to her, as
having power with her Son, and presently the Ave Mary, _Salve Regina_,
and other forms are prescribed, as is usual after all prayers. And this
is pretty much the whole of the devotion, if it may so be called, which
is recommended towards St. Mary in the course of so many apparently as a
hundred and fifty Meditations, and those chiefly on the events in our
Lord's earthly history as recorded in Scripture. It would seem then that
whatever be the influence of the doctrines connected with the Blessed
Virgin and the Saints in the Catholic Church, at least they do not
impede or obscure the freest exercise and the fullest manifestation of
the devotional feelings towards God and Christ.


(2.) The other instance which I give in illustration is of a different
kind, but is suitable to mention. About forty little books have come
into my possession which are in circulation among the laity at Rome, and
answer to the smaller publications of the Christian Knowledge Society
among ourselves. They have been taken almost at hazard from a number of
such works, and are of various lengths; some running to as many as two
or three hundred pages, others consisting of scarce a dozen. They may be
divided into three classes:--a third part consists of books on practical
subjects; another third is upon the Incarnation and Passion; and of the
rest, a portion is upon the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist,
with two or three for the use of Missions, but the greater part is about
the Blessed Virgin.

As to the class on practical subjects, they are on such as the
following: "La Consolazione degl' Infermi;" "Pensieri di una donna sul
vestire moderno;" "L'Inferno Aperto;" "Il Purgatorio Aperto;" St.
Alphonso Liguori's "Massime eterne;" other Maxims by St. Francis de
Sales for every day in the year; "Pratica per ben confessarsi e
communicarsi;" and the like.

The titles of the second class on the Incarnation and Passion are such
as "Gesu dalla Croce al cuore del peccatore;" "Novena del Ss. Natale di
G. C.;" "Associazione pel culto perpetuo del divin cuore;" "Compendio
della Passione."

In the third are "Il Mese Eucaristico," "Il divoto di Maria," Feasts of
the Blessed Virgin, &c.


These books in all three divisions are, as even the titles of some of
them show, in great measure made up of Meditations; such are the "Breve
e pie Meditazioni" of P. Crasset; the "Meditazioni per ciascun giorno
del mese sulla Passione;" the "Meditazioni per l'ora Eucaristica." Now
of these it may be said generally, that in the body of the Meditation
St. Mary is hardly mentioned at all. For instance, in the Meditations on
the Passion, a book used for distribution, through two hundred and
seventy-seven pages St. Mary is not once named. In the Prayers for Mass
which are added, she is introduced, at the Confiteor, thus, "I pray the
Virgin, the Angels, the Apostles, and all the Saints of heaven to
intercede," &c.; and in the Preparation for Penance, she is once
addressed, after our Lord, as the Refuge of sinners, with the Saints and
Guardian Angel; and at the end of the Exercise there is a similar prayer
of four lines for the intercession of St. Mary, Angels and Saints of
heaven. In the Exercise for Communion, in a prayer to our Lord, "my only
and infinite good, my treasure, my life, my paradise, my all," the
merits of the Saints are mentioned, "especially of St. Mary." She is
also mentioned with Angels and Saints at the termination.

In a collection of "Spiritual Lauds" for Missions, of thirty-six Hymns,
we find as many as eleven addressed to St. Mary, or relating to her,
among which are translations of the _Ave Maris Stella_, and the _Stabat
Mater_, and the _Salve Regina_; and one is on "the sinner's reliance on
Mary." Five, however, which are upon Repentance, are entirely engaged
upon the subjects of our Lord and sin, with the exception of an address
to St. Mary at the end of two of them. Seven others, upon sin, the
Crucifixion, and the Four Last Things, do not mention the Blessed
Virgin's name.

To the Manual for the Perpetual Adoration of the Divine Heart of Jesus
there is appended one chapter on the Immaculate Conception.


One of the most important of these books is the French _Pensez-y bien_,
which seems a favourite, since there are two translations of it, one of
them being the fifteenth edition; and it is used for distribution in
Missions. In these reflections there is scarcely a word said of St.
Mary. At the end there is a Method of reciting the Crown of the Seven
Dolours of the Virgin Mary, which contains seven prayers to her, and the
_Stabat Mater_.

One of the longest in the whole collection is a tract consisting
principally of Meditations on the Holy Communion; under the title of the
"Eucharistic Month," as already mentioned. In these "Preparations,"
"Aspirations," &c., St. Mary is but once mentioned, and that in a prayer
addressed to our Lord. "O my sweetest Brother," it says with an allusion
to the Canticles, "who, being made Man for my salvation, hast sucked the
milk from the virginal breast of her, who is my Mother by grace," &c. In
a small "Instruction" given to children on their first Communion, there
are the following questions and answers: "Is our Lady in the Host? No.
Are the Angels and the Saints? No. Why not? Because they have no place


Now coming to those in the third class, which directly relate to the
Blessed Mary, such as "Esercizio ad Onore dell' addolorato cuore di
Maria," "Novena di Preparazione alla festa dell' Assunzione," "Li
Quindici Misteri del Santo Rosario," the principal is Father Segneri's
"Il divoto di Maria," which requires a distinct notice. It is far from
the intention of these remarks to deny the high place which the Holy
Virgin holds in the devotion of Catholics; I am but bringing evidence of
its not interfering with that incommunicable and awful relation which
exists between the creature and the Creator; and, if the foregoing
instances show, as far as they go, that that relation is preserved
inviolate in such honours as are paid to St. Mary, so will this treatise
throw light upon the _rationale_ by which the distinction is preserved
between the worship of God and the honour of an exalted creature, and
that in singular accordance with the remarks made in the foregoing


This work of Segneri is written against persons who continue in sins
under pretence of their devotion to St. Mary, and in consequence he is
led to draw out the idea which good Catholics have of her. The idea is
this, that she is absolutely the first of created beings. Thus the
treatise says, that "God might have easily made a more beautiful
firmament, and a greener earth, but it was not possible to make a higher
Mother than the Virgin Mary; and in her formation there has been
conferred on mere creatures all the glory of which they are capable,
remaining mere creatures," p. 34. And as containing all created
perfection, she has all those attributes, which, as was noticed above,
the Arians and other heretics applied to our Lord, and which the Church
denied of Him as infinitely below His Supreme Majesty. Thus she is "the
created Idea in the making of the world," p. 20; "which, as being a more
exact copy of the Incarnate Idea than was elsewhere to be found, was
used as the original of the rest of the creation," p. 21. To her are
applied the words, "Ego primogenita prodivi ex ore Altissimi," because
she was predestinated in the Eternal Mind coevally with the Incarnation
of her Divine Son. But to Him alone the title of Wisdom Incarnate is
reserved, p. 25. Again, Christ is the First-born by nature; the Virgin
in a less sublime order, viz. that of adoption. Again, if omnipotence is
ascribed to her, it is a participated omnipotence (as she and all Saints
have a participated sonship, divinity, glory, holiness, and worship),
and is explained by the words, "Quod Deus imperio, tu prece, Virgo,


Again, a special office is assigned to the Blessed Virgin, that is,
special as compared with all other Saints; but it is marked off with the
utmost precision from that assigned to our Lord. Thus she is said to
have been made "the arbitress of every _effect_ coming from God's
mercy." Because she is the Mother of God, the salvation of mankind is
said to be given to her prayers "_de congruo_, but _de condigno_ it is
due only to the blood of the Redeemer," p. 113. Merit is ascribed to
Christ, and prayer to St. Mary, p. 162. The whole may be expressed in
the words, "_Unica_ spes mea Jesus, et post Jesum Virgo Maria. Amen."

Again, a distinct _cultus_ is assigned to Mary, but the reason of it is
said to be the transcendent dignity of her Son. "A particular _cultus_
is due to the Virgin beyond comparison greater than that given to any
other Saint, because her dignity belongs to another order, namely to one
which in some sense belongs to the order of the Hypostatic Union itself,
and is necessarily connected with it," p. 41. And "Her being the Mother
of God is the source of all the extraordinary honours due to Mary," p.

It is remarkable that the "Monstra te esse Matrem" is explained, p. 158,
as "Show thyself to be _our_ Mother;" an interpretation which I think I
have found elsewhere in these Tracts, and also in a book commonly used
in religious houses, called the "Journal of Meditations," and

It must be kept in mind that my object here is not to prove the dogmatic
accuracy of what these popular publications teach concerning the
prerogatives of the Blessed Virgin, but to show that that teaching is
not such as to obscure the divine glory of her Son. We must ask for
clearer evidence before we are able to admit so grave a charge; and so
much may suffice on the Sixth Test of fidelity in the development of an
idea, as applied to the Catholic system.


[422:1] Supr. p. 173.

[423:1] Supr. p. 174.

[428:1] _E. g._ the "De Imitatione," the "Introduction à la Vie Dévote,"
the "Spiritual Combat," the "Anima Divota," the "Paradisus Animæ," the
"Regula Cleri," the "Garden of the Soul," &c. &c. [Also, the Roman
Catechism, drawn up expressly for Parish instruction, a book in which,
out of nearly 600 pages, scarcely half-a-dozen make mention of the
Blessed Virgin, though without any disparagement thereby, or thought of
disparagement, of her special prerogatives.]

[436:1] [Vid. Via Media, vol. ii. pp. 121-2.]




We have arrived at length at the seventh and last test, which was laid
down when we started, for distinguishing the true development of an idea
from its corruptions and perversions: it is this. A corruption, if
vigorous, is of brief duration, runs itself out quickly, and ends in
death; on the other hand, if it lasts, it fails in vigour and passes
into a decay. This general law gives us additional assistance in
determining the character of the developments of Christianity commonly
called Catholic.


When we consider the succession of ages during which the Catholic system
has endured, the severity of the trials it has undergone, the sudden and
wonderful changes without and within which have befallen it, the
incessant mental activity and the intellectual gifts of its maintainers,
the enthusiasm which it has kindled, the fury of the controversies which
have been carried on among its professors, the impetuosity of the
assaults made upon it, the ever-increasing responsibilities to which it
has been committed by the continuous development of its dogmas, it is
quite inconceivable that it should not have been broken up and lost,
were it a corruption of Christianity. Yet it is still living, if there
be a living religion or philosophy in the world; vigorous, energetic,
persuasive, progressive; _vires acquirit eundo_; it grows and is not
overgrown; it spreads out, yet is not enfeebled; it is ever germinating,
yet ever consistent with itself. Corruptions indeed are to be found
which sleep and are suspended; and these, as I have said, are usually
called "decays:" such is not the case with Catholicity; it does not
sleep, it is not stationary even now; and that its long series of
developments should be corruptions would be an instance of sustained
error, so novel, so unaccountable, so preternatural, as to be little
short of a miracle, and to rival those manifestations of Divine Power
which constitute the evidence of Christianity. We sometimes view with
surprise and awe the degree of pain and disarrangement which the human
frame can undergo without succumbing; yet at length there comes an end.
Fevers have their crisis, fatal or favourable; but this corruption of a
thousand years, if corruption it be, has ever been growing nearer death,
yet never reaching it, and has been strengthened, not debilitated, by
its excesses.


For instance: when the Empire was converted, multitudes, as is very
plain, came into the Church on but partially religious motives, and with
habits and opinions infected with the false worships which they had
professedly abandoned. History shows us what anxiety and effort it cost
her rulers to keep Paganism out of her pale. To this tendency must be
added the hazard which attended on the development of the Catholic
ritual, such as the honours publicly assigned to Saints and Martyrs, the
formal veneration of their relics, and the usages and observances which
followed. What was to hinder the rise of a sort of refined Pantheism,
and the overthrow of dogmatism _pari passu_ with the multiplication of
heavenly intercessors and patrons? If what is called in reproach
"Saint-worship" resembled the polytheism which it supplanted, or was a
corruption, how did Dogmatism survive? Dogmatism is a religion's
profession of its own reality as contrasted with other systems; but
polytheists are liberals, and hold that one religion is as good as
another. Yet the theological system was developing and strengthening, as
well as the monastic rule, which is intensely anti-pantheistic, all the
while the ritual was assimilating itself, as Protestants say, to the
Paganism of former ages.


Nor was the development of dogmatic theology, which was then taking
place, a silent and spontaneous process. It was wrought out and carried
through under the fiercest controversies, and amid the most fearful
risks. The Catholic faith was placed in a succession of perils, and
rocked to and fro like a vessel at sea. Large portions of Christendom
were, one after another, in heresy or in schism; the leading Churches
and the most authoritative schools fell from time to time into serious
error; three Popes, Liberius, Vigilius, Honorius, have left to posterity
the burden of their defence: but these disorders were no interruption to
the sustained and steady march of the sacred science from implicit
belief to formal statement. The series of ecclesiastical decisions, in
which its progress was ever and anon signified, alternate between the
one and the other side of the theological dogma especially in question,
as if fashioning it into shape by opposite strokes. The controversy
began in Apollinaris, who confused or denied the Two Natures in Christ,
and was condemned by Pope Damasus. A reaction followed, and Theodore of
Mopsuestia suggested by his teaching the doctrine of Two Persons. After
Nestorius had brought that heresy into public view, and had incurred in
consequence the anathema of the Third Ecumenical Council, the current of
controversy again shifted its direction; for Eutyches appeared,
maintained the One Nature, and was condemned at Chalcedon. Something
however was still wanting to the overthrow of the Nestorian doctrine of
Two Persons, and the Fifth Council was formally directed against the
writings of Theodore and his party. Then followed the Monothelite
heresy, which was a revival of the Eutychian or Monophysite, and was
condemned in the Sixth. Lastly, Nestorianism once more showed itself in
the Adoptionists of Spain, and gave occasion to the great Council of
Frankfort. Any one false step would have thrown the whole theory of the
doctrine into irretrievable confusion; but it was as if some one
individual and perspicacious intellect, to speak humanly, ruled the
theological discussion from first to last. That in the long course of
centuries, and in spite of the failure, in points of detail, of the most
gifted Fathers and Saints, the Church thus wrought out the one and only
consistent theory which can be taken on the great doctrine in dispute,
proves how clear, simple, and exact her vision of that doctrine was. But
it proves more than this. Is it not utterly incredible, that with this
thorough comprehension of so great a mystery, as far as the human mind
can know it, she should be at that very time in the commission of the
grossest errors in religious worship, and should be hiding the God and
Mediator, whose Incarnation she contemplated with so clear an intellect,
behind a crowd of idols?


The integrity of the Catholic developments is still more evident when
they are viewed in contrast with the history of other doctrinal systems.
Philosophies and religions of the world have each its day, and are parts
of a succession. They supplant and are in turn supplanted. But the
Catholic religion alone has had no limits; it alone has ever been
greater than the emergence, and can do what others cannot do. If it were
a falsehood, or a corruption, like the systems of men, it would be weak
as they are; whereas it is able even to impart to them a strength which
they have not, and it uses them for its own purposes, and locates them
in its own territory. The Church can extract good from evil, or at least
gets no harm from it. She inherits the promise made to the disciples,
that they should take up serpents, and, if they drank any deadly thing,
it should not hurt them. When evil has clung to her, and the barbarian
people have looked on with curiosity or in malice, till she should have
swollen or fallen down suddenly, she has shaken the venomous beast into
the fire, and felt no harm.


Eusebius has set before us this attribute of Catholicism in a passage in
his history. "These attempts," he says, speaking of the acts of the
enemy, "did not long avail him, Truth ever consolidating itself, and, as
time goes on, shining into broader day. For, while the devices of
adversaries were extinguished at once, undone by their very
impetuosity,--one heresy after another presenting its own novelty, the
former specimens ever dissolving and wasting variously in manifold and
multiform shapes,--the brightness of the Catholic and only true Church
went forward increasing and enlarging, yet ever in the same things, and
in the same way, beaming on the whole race of Greeks and barbarians with
the awfulness, and simplicity, and nobleness, and sobriety, and purity
of its divine polity and philosophy. Thus the calumny against our whole
creed died with its day, and there continued alone our Discipline,
sovereign among all, and acknowledged to be pre-eminent in awfulness,
sobriety, and divine and philosophical doctrines; so that no one of this
day dares to cast any base reproach upon our faith, nor any calumny,
such as it was once usual for our enemies to use."[442:1]


The Psalmist says, "We went through fire and water;" nor is it possible
to imagine trials fiercer or more various than those from which
Catholicism has come forth uninjured, as out of the Egyptian sea or the
Babylonian furnace. First of all were the bitter persecutions of the
Pagan Empire in the early centuries; then its sudden conversion, the
liberty of Christian worship, the development of the _cultus sanctorum_,
and the reception of Monachism into the ecclesiastical system. Then came
the irruption of the barbarians, and the occupation by them of the
_orbis terrarum_ from the North, and by the Saracens from the South.
Meanwhile the anxious and protracted controversy concerning the
Incarnation hung like some terrible disease upon the faith of the
Church. Then came the time of thick darkness; and afterwards two great
struggles, one with the material power, the other with the intellect, of
the world, terminating in the ecclesiastical monarchy, and in the
theology of the schools. And lastly came the great changes consequent
upon the controversies of the sixteenth century. Is it conceivable that
any one of those heresies, with which ecclesiastical history abounds,
should have gone through a hundredth part of these trials, yet have come
out of them so nearly what it was before, as Catholicism has done? Could
such a theology as Arianism have lasted through the scholastic contest?
or Montanism have endured to possess the world, without coming to a
crisis, and failing? or could the imbecility of the Manichean system, as
a religion, have escaped exposure, had it been brought into conflict
with the barbarians of the Empire, or the feudal system?


A similar contrast discovers itself in the respective effects and
fortunes of certain influential principles or usages, which have both
been introduced into the Catholic system, and are seen in operation
elsewhere. When a system really is corrupt, powerful agents, when
applied to it, do but develope that corruption, and bring it the more
speedily to an end. They stimulate it preternaturally; it puts forth its
strength, and dies in some memorable act. Very different has been the
history of Catholicism, when it has committed itself to such formidable
influences. It has borne, and can bear, principles or doctrines, which
in other systems of religion quickly degenerate into fanaticism or
infidelity. This might be shown at great length in the history of the
Aristotelic philosophy within and without the Church; or in the history
of Monachism, or of Mysticism;--not that there has not been at first a
conflict between these powerful and unruly elements and the Divine
System into which they were entering, but that it ended in the victory
of Catholicism. The theology of St. Thomas, nay of the Church of his
period, is built on that very Aristotelism, which the early Fathers
denounce as the source of all misbelief, and in particular of the Arian
and Monophysite heresies. The exercises of asceticism, which are so
graceful in St. Antony, so touching in St. Basil, and so awful in St.
Germanus, do but become a melancholy and gloomy superstition even in the
most pious persons who are cut off from Catholic communion. And while
the highest devotion in the Church is the mystical, and contemplation
has been the token of the most singularly favoured Saints, we need not
look deeply into the history of modern sects, for evidence of the
excesses in conduct, or the errors in doctrine, to which mystics have
been commonly led, who have boasted of their possession of reformed
truth, and have rejected what they called the corruptions of


It is true, there have been seasons when, from the operation of external
or internal causes, the Church has been thrown into what was almost a
state of _deliquium_; but her wonderful revivals, while the world was
triumphing over her, is a further evidence of the absence of corruption
in the system of doctrine and worship into which she has developed. If
corruption be an incipient disorganization, surely an abrupt and
absolute recurrence to the former state of vigour, after an interval, is
even less conceivable than a corruption that is permanent. Now this is
the case with the revivals I speak of. After violent exertion men are
exhausted and fall asleep; they awake the same as before, refreshed by
the temporary cessation of their activity; and such has been the slumber
and such the restoration of the Church. She pauses in her course, and
almost suspends her functions; she rises again, and she is herself once
more; all things are in their place and ready for action. Doctrine is
where it was, and usage, and precedence, and principle, and policy;
there may be changes, but they are consolidations or adaptations; all is
unequivocal and determinate, with an identity which there is no
disputing. Indeed it is one of the most popular charges against the
Catholic Church at this very time, that she is "incorrigible;"--change
she cannot, if we listen to St. Athanasius or St. Leo; change she never
will, if we believe the controversialist or alarmist of the present day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were the thoughts concerning the "Blessed Vision of Peace," of one
whose long-continued petition had been that the Most Merciful would not
despise the work of His own Hands, nor leave him to himself;--while yet
his eyes were dim, and his breast laden, and he could but employ Reason
in the things of Faith. And now, dear Reader, time is short, eternity is
long. Put not from you what you have here found; regard it not as mere
matter of present controversy; set not out resolved to refute it, and
looking about for the best way of doing so; seduce not yourself with the
imagination that it comes of disappointment, or disgust, or
restlessness, or wounded feeling, or undue sensibility, or other
weakness. Wrap not yourself round in the associations of years past; nor
determine that to be truth which you wish to be so, nor make an idol of
cherished anticipations. Time is short, eternity is long.



[442:1] Euseb. Hist. iv. 7, _ap._ Church of the Fathers [Historical
Sketches, vol. i. p. 408].



The abbreviations i. e. and e. g. have been spaced throughout the text
for consistency.

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 5: or the vicissitudes[original has vicissisudes] of
     human affairs

     Page 20: St. Justin was ready to concede to creatures.[period
     missing in original]

     Page 39: but is modified, or[original has or or] at least

     Page 100: professes to accept,[original has period] and which,
     do what he will

     Page 102: and more explicit than the text.[period missing in

     Page 118: which is unsuitable to the Ante-nicene[original has
     Antenicene] period

     Page 133: almost universality in the primitive Church.[133:1]
     [footnote anchor missing in original--position verified in an
     earlier edition]

     Page 172: whether fairly or not does not interfere[original
     has interefere]

     Page 227: a good-humoured superstition[original has

     Page 288: He explained St. Thomas's[original has extraneous

     Page 306: of Himeria in Osrhoene[original has Orshoëne]

     Page 309: During the interval, Dioscorus[original has
     Discorus] was tried

     Page 320: to contain scarcely[original has scarely] a single

     Page 336: derive its efficacy from human faith."[quotation
     mark missing in original]

     Page 344: orthodoxy will stand or fall together.[period
     missing in original]

     Page 365: true Unitarianism of St.[period missing in original]

     Page 416: as it is said in the Apocalypse,[original has
     extraneous quotation mark] "The dragon

     [13:2] British Critic, July, 1836, p. 193.[period missing in

     [18:3] Basil,[original has period] ed. Ben.[period missing in
     original] vol. 3,[comma missing in original] p. xcvi.

     [81:2] _Essay on Assent_, ch. vii. sect. 2.[period missing in

     [148:1] In Psalm 118, v. 3,[original has period] de Instit.
     Virg. 50.

     [162:1] Serm.[period missing in original] De Natal. iii. 3.

     [213:1] p. 296, t. 5, mem. p. 63, t. 16,[comma missing in
     original] mem. p. 267

     [216:1] Sueton. Tiber.[period missing in original] 36

     [234:3] [footnote number missing in original] Acad. Inscr. ibid.

     [235:1] Gibbon, Hist. ch.[period missing in original] 16, note

     [237:2] In hon. Rom. 62.[original has comma] In Act. S. Cypr.

     [259:1] Hær. 42,[original has period] p. 366.

     [280:1] De Gub.[period missing in original] D. iv. p. 73.

     [288:1] Lengerke, de Ephrem[original has extraneous period]
     Syr. pp. 73-75.

     [302:2] overthrow of all heresy, _especially_ the
     Arian,[original has period]

     [331:2] _Vid._ also _supr._[period missing in original] p.

     [369:1] Infra,[original has period] pp. 411-415, &c.

     [371:1] Epp.[period missing in original] 102, 18.

     [371:2] Contr. Faust.[original has comma] 20, 23.

     [371:3] August.[letter "s" not printed in original] Ep. 102,

     [399:1] Rosweyde,[original has period] V. P. p. 618.

     [442:1] Euseb.[period missing in original] Hist. iv. 7

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