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UOOu Liui\rn% 


& Bourse of ILectitres 











Author of 

A Historical Introduction to the Study of the Books of the New Testament 






r I "HIS volume, like that already published under the 
title of * An Introduction to the New Testament,' 
contains lectures delivered in the ordinary course of 
instruction to my class in the Divinity School of the 
Dublin University. The character of the audience 
addressed in such lectures renders necessary a mode 
of treatment different from that which would be suitable 
in a work originally intended for publication. A lec- 
turer does not aim at that completeness which is 
demanded by the purchaser of a book, who expects to 
find in it all the information he needs on the subject 
with which it deals, and who objects to be sent to look 
for it elsewhere. The teacher of a class of intelli- 
gent young men cannot but feel that the knowledge 
which he can hope to communicate to them directly is 
insignificant in comparison with what they will acquire 
by their own reading, if he can only interest them in 
the study. He has no wish to save them the trouble of 
reading books, and thinks it would be waste of time to 
spend much in telling them what they are likely to read 
for themselves elsewhere. It is not his duty to write a 
new book for their use if he can refer them to sources 


whence the same information can be satisfactorily ob- 
tained. And he naturally adopts a colloquial style as 
best adapted for retaining the attention of the hearers 
of a long viva voce lecture. 

On account of the differences I have indicated, I had 
not thought my lectures suitable for publication in their 
actual form, though I at times entertained intentions 
of writing theological works for which these lectures 
might supply materials. But time went on without 
my finding or making leisure to carry any of my con- 
templated projects into execution ; until, three or four 
years ago, I was led to consider the possibility that if 
I were to die leaving lectures behind me, the pious zeal 
of some of my friends might cause them to be published 
posthumously. I felt that if any of my lectures were 
to be printed, I should much prefer that it were done 
before they were quite out of date, and while they could 
have the benefit of my own revision. So I determined 
to try the experiment of printing some of them ; and I 
selected those on the New Testament, as being on the 
subject most likely to be generally interesting. Having 
found by experience that there was no likelihood of my 
casting my lectures into any different form, I sent them 
to be, printed just as they were, though in the course of 
their passing through the press I found so many points 
omitted, or imperfectly treated, that I was led to make 
additions which considerably increased the bulk of the 

The favourable reception which that volume has 
met with has encouraged me to print another series 
of lectures. For the reasons stated in the Introductory 


Lecture, I do not expect the subject to be so generally 
interesting as that of the former volume ; and yet I 
have in the same lecture given reasons for considering 
the investigation to be one that ought not to be neg- 
lected. But I frankly confess that I have had more 
pleasure in that part of my professorial work which 
engaged me in the defence of truths held in common 
by all who love our Blessed Lord, than when it was my 
duty to discuss points on which Christians differ among 
themselves. It has, however, been a pleasant thought 
to me, that in the present series of lectures I was doing 
what in me lay to remove what is now the greatest 
obstacle to the union of Christians. There is, I think, 
abundant evidence that at the present day the pres- 
sure of the conflict with unbelief is drawing Christians 
closer together. When we regard the state of mutual 
feeling between members of the Anglican Church on 
the one hand, and on the other the Greek Church, 
or the German Old Catholics, or the Scotch Pres- 
byterians, or the Scandinavian Churches, I think we 
can discern in all cases a growing sense that there 
are things in which we all agree, more important 
than the things on which we differ. And the prospect 
is not altogether unhopeful that, by further discus- 
sions and mutual explanations, such an approxima- 
tion of opinion might be arrived at that there would 
be at least no bar to intercommunion. But as the 
Roman Church is at present disposed, there can be no 
union with her except on the terms of absolute sub- 
mission ; that submission, moreover, involving an ac- 
knowledgment that we from our hearts believe things 

viii PREFACE. 

to be true, which we have good reasons for knowing 
to be false. The nature of the claims of Rome clearly 
shuts out that possibility of reconciliation in her case, 
which may be hoped for in other cases from retracta- 
tions or mutual explanations ; so that, by every effort 
to bring about the withdrawal of these claims, we 
are doing something to remove the main obstacle to 
the reunion of Christendom. 

I am not so silly as to imagine that any perceptible 
effect can follow from adding one to the many demon- 
strations that have been given that the claims of which 
I speak are unfounded. But no false opinion can resist 
for ever the continual dropping of repeated disproofs. 
We may point out instance after instance in which 
papal authority has been given to decisions now known 
to be erroneous, and in each case some ingenious 
attempt may be made to show that the attribute of in- 
fallibility did not attach to the erroneous decision ; but 
sooner or later men must awake to see that the result 
of all this special pleading is that, whereas they ex- 
pected to find a guide who would always lead them 
right, they have got instead a guide who can find some 
plausible excuse to make every time he leads them 
wrong. I do not think it absolutely impossible that, 
under the pressure of historical disproof, some such 
modification of the theory of Roman Infallibility may 
eventually be made as will amount to a practical with- 
drawal of it. The theory of Development, which has 
now found extensive acceptance in the Roman Com- 
munion, involves the belief that the Church of the 
present day is, in some respects, wiser than the Church 


of earlier times. When that theory has been itself a 
little further developed, it may be found to give the 
Church the right to review the decisions of earlier 
times, and to abandon claims formerly made, but which 
experience has shown to be untenable. 

In the present series of lectures I have not entered 
into the details of the controversy with Roman Ca- 
tholics. I was able to refer my class to many good 
books which have been written on the subject. But 
arguments are useless if addressed to those who pro- 
fess to be above argument. As the controversy is 
conducted at the present day, everything turns on the 
power claimed for the Pope of determining and de- 
claring, without any attempt to produce evidence, 
what are or are not Apostolic traditions. There really 
is but one question to be settled : Are we bound 
to receive undoubtingly the Pope's unproved asser- 
tions, without any attempt to test by argument 
whether they are true or not ? He may declare in 
words that he has no commission to make revelation 
of new doctrine, but only to hand down faithfully the 
revelation made through the Apostles ; but what does 
that avail if we are bound to take his word whether 
a doctrine be new or not ? He may propound a doc- 
trine such as that of the Immaculate Conception of 
the Blessed Virgin, which it is certain that the Church 
for centuries never regarded as part of the revelation 
made through the Apostles, and it is held that we 
are bound not only to believe that doctrine to be 
true, but also to believe, on the Pope's authority, that 
it is old. 


These lectures were not written for Roman Catho- 
lics ; and I do not expect them to fall into the hands of 
any, except of those who deal in controversy, and who, 
perhaps, may take up the volume in order to see if it 
contains anything that needs to be answered. If any 
such there should be, I beg of them to remember that 
they are overhearing what members of another commu- 
nion say when they are quite by themselves, and, there- 
fore, that they must not be offended if they meet the 
proverbial fate of listeners in hearing some things not 
complimentary. If they should think that I have not 
done justice to their side of the question in the view I 
have presented of it, I earnestly request them to believe 
that my error has been involuntary; that it has been 
my desire to know and to report fairly, the strongest 
arguments that can be used in defence of the Roman 
claims ; and that if there be stronger than those which 
I have attempted to answer, my omission arises either 
from ignorance of them, or because the constitution of 
my intellect is such that I could see no force in them. 

With regard to the manner in which I have ex- 
pressed myself, it is possible they may object to my 
habitual use of the term Romanists to denote the mem- 
bers of their Church. In the older Church of England 
books of controversy the word commonly used was 
' Papists,' and the religion was called ' Popery.' In 
modern times the word Papist is supposed to be offen- 
sive, though I do not know why men should be 
ashamed of being called after the Pope, who give him 
now even a more prominent place in their religious 
system than he held three hundred years ago. I have, 


however, avoided using a term which, whether rightly 
or wrongly, is imagined to be offensive, though I sus- 
pect that the real reason for objecting to it is a desire 
to be known by no other name than ' Catholics.' Pro- 
testants who know nothing of theology are apt freely 
to concede the appellation, having no other idea con- 
nected with it than that it is the name of a sect ; but those 
who know better feel that it is a degradation of a noble 
word to limit it in such a way. And, in truth, if it 
is possible to convey insult by a title, what is really 
insulting is that one section of Christians should ap- 
propriate to themselves the title ' Catholic ' as their ex- 
clusive right, and thus, by implication, deny it to others. 
This is so obvious that they do not now insist on being 
called Catholics pure and simple, and are satisfied if 
other people will speak of them as Roman Catholics. It 
is a compromise which I am willing to accept in my 
intercourse with persons of that religion ; but I observe 
that when they are by themselves they always drop the 
' Roman/ and call themselves * Catholics.' So they 
have no cause to be offended if, when we are by our- 
selves, we drop the ' Catholic ' and call them ' Roman.' 
We may fairly object to an inconvenient periphrasis. 
If we must not speak of members of the Roman Church 
without tacking Catholic to their name, must we not also, 
if we claim an equal right in the title, add it to our own 
name ? While, however, we could describe our brethren 
in England as Anglo-Catholic, how are those of us who 
live in Ireland or Scotland or America to call ourselves ? 
If any sect say the Unitarian were to claim the exclu- 
sive title of Christians, and when this were refused them, 


should insist, at least, in being known, not as Unita- 
rians, but as Unitarian Christians, would not that be 
felt to be the old claim in disguise, since it would be 
inconvenient to us to be obliged to make a similar addi- 
tion to our own name ? What I should understand by a 
Roman Catholic would be a member of the Catholic 
Church whose home was Rome. A member of the 
Catholic Church who lived in England would, of neces- 
sity, be an Anglo-Catholic. If he wanted there to be a 
Roman Catholic, he would be no Catholic at all, but a 
schismatic. To speak honestly, of all the sects into 
which Christendom is divided, none appears to me less 
entitled to the name Catholic than the Roman. Fir- 
milian, long ago, thus addressed a former bishop of 
Rome (and this great bishop Firmilian must be re- 
garded as expressing the sentiments not only of the 
Eastern Church of the third century, but also of St. 
Cyprian, to whose translation, no doubt, we owe our 
knowledge of his letter) : ' How great is the sin of 
which you have incurred the guilt in cutting yourself 
off from so many Christian flocks. For, do not deceive 
yourself, it is yourself you have cut off : since he is the 
real schismatic who makes himself an apostate from the 
communion of ecclesiastical unity. While you think that 
you can cut off all from your communion, it is yourself 
whom you cut off from communion with all.' At the 
present day the bishop of Rome has broken communion 
with more than half of Christendom, merely because 
it will not yield him an obedience to which he has no 
just right. To me he appears to have as little claim 
to the title Catholic as had the Donatists of old, who, 

PREFACE. xiii 

no matter how many bishops they had in their ad- 
herence, were rightly deemed schismatics, because they 
had unjustly broken communion with the rest of the 
Christian world. 

I might, however, have conquered my objection to 
the name Roman Catholic, if it were not that it seems to 
draw with it the word Roman-catholicism, one of some 
abominable words that have been introduced in our 
generation. To me, ' Catholic' and * -ism' repre- 
sent ideas which absolutely refuse to coalesce. Roman 
Catholics hold many doctrines which I believe to be true 
and Catholic ; but what is meant by Roman-catholicism 
is that part of the belief of Roman Catholics which 
is not Catholic, and is not true. 

The majority of the lectures in this volume were 
written about the year 1870; and as they were not 
intended for publication, they contained no references 
to authorities. This has caused me some inconvenience, 
as, since the time these lectures were written, my read- 
ing has taken other directions. I have, however, been 
able to supply references to the ancient authorities 
cited ; but I have not thought it worth while to give the 
labour necessary to note what use I have made of the 
literature current at the time the lectures were written. 

I have to acknowledge the assistance given me 
by my friends, Dr. Gwynn and Dr. Quarry, who have 
been kind enough to read the proofs of this volume ; 
and I have to thank the Rev. W. K. Ormsby for help 
given me in the preparation of the Index. 


Page 183, line 2, for 1854 read 1852. 
,, 200, ,, 8, ,, a read a. 
222, ,, 38, ,, in read on. 
256, 13, Protestant read Protestantism. 





Reasons for the recent decline of interest in the controversy, pp. 2 5. 
(a) Disestablishment, p. 2 ; (b) reaction against anti-Romanist over-state- 
ments, pp. 2, 3 ; (c) increased circulation of Roman Catholic books of 
devotion, p. 4 ; (d) the struggle with unbelief, p. 4 ; (e) the growth of 
scepticism, p. 5. The study, nevertheless, profitable, p. 6. Controversy, 
though not always expedient, p. 6, sometimes necessary in self- 
defence, p. 7. The examination of the Roman claims, a duty, p. 8. 
The use of the word Protestant, p. 9. What must be proved to clear us 
from the guilt of schism, p. 10. Apparent antagonism to Scripture of 
Roman Catholic doctrines, p. 1 1 ; yet discussion, on Scripture grounds, 
often, in practice, ineffective, p. 12. The danger of using weak argu- 
ments, p. 13. The untrustworthiness of controversial quotations, p. 15. 
The spirit in which controversy ought to be engaged in, p. 16. 



Evident from a priori considerations, p. 17 ; from the history of the 
controversy in recent times, p. 18. Disproof of Romish doctrines in the 
Tracts for the Times, p. 19 ; by men who afterwards became Romanists 
themselves, p. 19. What is really meant by acceptance of the Roman 
claim to Infallibility, p. 19. Modern changes in Romish teaching, p. 20. 
Definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, p. 20. The 
Pope's personal infallibility, p. 20. The Vatican Council, p. 21. Origin 
of the Old Catholics, p. 22 ; their inconsistency, p. 23. Changes in 
Roman Catholic text-books made necessary by Vatican Council, p. 24. 
Bailly's Theology, p. 24. Keenan's Catechism, p. 25. Roman Catholics 
acknowledge that the Bible alone furnishes no sufficient basis for their 
system, p. 27 ; in this they differ from early Fathers, p. 27. Bellarmine's 
rule respecting tradition, p. 28. Jewel's challenge, p. 28. 


Newman's Essay on Development, pp. 2941 ; anticipations of the 
theory, p. 30; applications of it, p. 31 ; it completely abandons the old 
lUicnce made by R. C. advocates, p. 32. The Council of Trent Milner, 
Wiseman, p. 32. Veneration for the Fathers traditional in Roman Church, 
p. 33 ; this veneration not consistent with theory of Development, p. 33. 
The controversy between Bossuet and Jurieu, p. 34. The theory of 
Development then maintained by the Calvinist, p. 34 ; and also by Petau, 
p. 34. Bossuet's opposition to the theory, p. 35. Bishop Bull's great 
work, p. 35. Newman's Essay doubtfully received at first, p. 36. A 
Romanist advocate strongly tempted to accept it, p. 37. Newman on 
Invocation of the Virgin, p. 37. The doctrine of Development concedes 
all that the opponents of Romanism require, p. 38 ; useless to Romanists 
if not supplemented by doctrine of Infallibility, p. 38. The doctrine of 
Development would equally serve to justify Protestantism, p. 39. Great 
historic difficulty in the way of the doctrine, p. 39. Local limitation of 
alleged developments, p. 40. Superiority of Protestant developments, 
p. 40. Manning and Spurgeon, p. 42. Infidel tendency of Roman 
Catholic line of argument, p. 43. 

Particular topics of controversy cannot be safely neglected, p. 44. 
Ordinary history of conversions from Romanism, p. 45. 


PRIVATE JUDGMENT, pp. 4652. Source of the craving for an infallible 
guide, p. 46. Private judgment and infallibility not opposed, p. 46. 
Necessity of private judgment, p. 47. Proof that submission to Rome 
rests on an act of private judgment, p. 47. How to use private judg- 
ment, p. 49. On what grounds deference is claimed for the authority 
of the Pope, p. 50. The deference which a learned divine may claim is 
not rightly compared to that which a physician may demand from his 
patients, p. 51. Basis of a Roman Catholic's faith, p. 51. No proof of 
infallibility possible without arguing in a circle, p. 52. Bishop Clifford's 
attempt to escape this difficulty, p. 55. Newman's method, p. 57 In 
Church of Rome, no subsequent verification of her teaching possible 
p. 58. Mallock's revival of Newman's argument, p. 59. Infidel tendency 
of his position, p. 59. 




Capes' reasons for returning to the Church of England, p. 61 To 
what kind of certainty Roman Catholics lay claim, p.6i. The theory 




Newman's Grammar of Assent, pp. 63 77. How we get beliefs, 
p. 63. Locke's dictum as to the assent with which we ought to 
entertain beliefs, p. 65. Clifford's Ethics of Belief, p. 65. On what 
depends our confidence in traditional belief, p. 66 ; on what our con- 
fidence in the Church's teaching, p. 67. Newman's theory of an 
' illative sense,' p. 68. Can a man be certain of anything without being 
infallible? p. 71. About what things may we be thus certain? p. 72. 
The authority of the Pope not one of them, p. 72. No sharp line to be 
drawn between certainty and high probability, p. 73. Indefectibility, 
whether an attribute of certainty, p. 74. The more we talk of certainty 
the less we have, p. 76. 


Milner's three axioms, p. 78. The two rules of faith which he pronounces 
fallacious, p. 79. The insecurity of reliance on a supposed immediate 
personal revelation, p. 79. The doctrine about Faith laid down by the 
Vatican Council, p. 80. The foundation of a Roman Catholic's confi- 
dence proved by Milner to be fallacious, p. 81. Milner's second fallacious 
rule, p. 81. Roman Catholic controversialists inconsistent in refusing to 
admit the inerrancy of Scripture, p. 82. The argument, ' If our Lord 
had intended His people to learn His religion from a book, He would 
have written it Himself,' p. 82. The Bible as a guide does not satisfy 
the conditions imposed by Milner's axioms, p. 84. Milner's alleged true 
rule, p. 84. This rule not secure or never-failing, p. 84. Bossuet's 
Variations, p. 85. A Protestant not much affected by the argument from 
variations, p. 85. What is really proved by the existence of variations, 
p. 86. Bossuet has been treated by the predominant Roman Catholic 
school of the present day as no better than a Protestant, p. 87. Examina- 
tion of Milner's axioms, p. 88. Monstrous character of the claim made in 
them, p. 88. His maxim, when amended, may be used against the Church 
of Rome, p. 89. Patristic authority for asserting that the obscurities of 
Scripture do not affect essential matters, p. 89. The decrees of Councils 
not even intelligible to the unlearned, p. 90. Explicit and implicit belief, 
p. 91. Fides Carbonarii, p. 92. Material and formal heresy, p. 93. 
This theory represents the Church as making the way of salvation more 
difficult, p. 93. Of what things Roman Catholics are now required to 
have explicit knowledge, p. 94. The teaching on this subject of Inno- 
cent IV., p. 95. Later editions of Furniss's What every Christian must 
know, p. 95. Necessity for an infallible guide only arises where explicit 
knowledge is required, p. 96. An act of faith, p. 97. A Protestant 
safe, even if Roman Infallibility is a revealed doctrine, p. 97. 


xviii CONTENTS. 




Falsity of Milner's axiom if asserted of truths important, but not neces- 
sary to salvation, pp. 98-107. No infallible means provided for finding 
the true Church, p. 98 ; none for obtaining secular knowledge, p. 99. 
The analogy of disease and its remedies, p. 100. The analogy of the 
case of sin and holiness, p. 100. The Church not secured against the 
temporary prevalence of great moral corruption, p. 101. Testimony of 
Baronius, p. 101. Like safeguards vouchsafed by God against sin and 
against error, p. 102. Same considerations available for mitigating the 
difficulty of the existence of evil and of error, p. 103. Physical evil, p. 103. 
Defects of knowledge, p. 104. The prevalence of sin, p. 105. Benumb- 
ing effect of the doctrine of infallibility, p. 106. Testimony of Mr. 
Maskell, p. 106. The unreality of unintelligent faith, p. 107. 


In no subject can we dispense with teachers, p. 108 ; but our teachers are 
not infallible, p. 109. What is really meant by an infallible Church, 
p. 1 10. The analogy of University teaching, p. 1 10. The conditions of 
progress for the human race, p. in. Mutual concessions on this subject 
have now left little room for controversy, p. 112. How Christ intended 
us to learn His religion, p. 113. The service actually rendered by the 
Church, p. 115; may be fully admitted without owning her infallibility, 
p. 115. True analogy to the relation between a Christian teacher and 
his pupils, p. 115. If the Church be infallible, the Bible is useless and 
mischievous, p. 116. The early Church encouraged Bible-reading, p. 116. 
St. Chrysostom on the study of Scripture, pp. 118-121. What Roman 
Catholics say in reply, p. 121. Discouragement of Bible-reading by 
modern Church of Rome, p. 123. 


Dr. Hawkins' formula, p. 124. The method of the Church of England, 
p. 124. The method of the Council of Trent, p. 125. The rule of faith, 
as laid down by Bellarmine, p. 125. Fallacy in the argument that the 
Word of God has equal claims to acceptance whether it comes to you by 
writing or orally, p. 125. The question about the rule of faith a subordi- 



nate one in this controversy, p. 126. The meaning of the Roman appeal 
to tradition, p. 127. Canon of the Council of Trent concerning the inter- 
pretation of Scripture, p. 127 ; embodied with a variation in the Creed 
of Pope Pius IV., p. 128. Romish rule of faith complicated, p. 128 ; and 
modern, p. 129. Tradition, as a rule of faith, needs the supplement of 
the doctrine of Infallibility, p. 130. Uncertainty of tradition, p. 131. 
A priori arguments for sufficiency of Scripture dismissed, p. 131. Suf- 
ficiency of Scripture cannot be proved by Scripture itself, p. 132. What is 
meant by Roman Catholic appeal to tradition, p. 132. Whether there 
can be new traditions, p. 133. The objection that the N. T. itself rests 
on the authority of tradition, p. 134. Absence of trustworthy traditions 
concerning the Apostolic age, p. 134; examples, p. 134. Why we do not 
use traditions independent of Scripture as proof of Christian doctrine, 
P- 137. 



Ambiguity in the phrase 'rule of faith,' p. 138. The authority of the 
Creeds, p. 138. Ambiguity of word ' tradition,' p. 139. Bellarmine's 
threefold division of traditions, p. 139. The use of the word ' tradition' in 
the Thirty-nine Articles, p. 140. Tertullian's list of Church customs un- 
authorized by Scripture, p. 141. 'Tradition,' as signifying the 'res tradita' 
and the ' modus tradendi,' p. 141. Proof by tradition that the Scriptures 
are a full and perfect rule of faith, p. 142. St. Basil, p. 142. St. Cyprian, 
p. 143. St. Augustine, p. 145. St. Jerome, p. 146. Tertullian's trea- 
tise on Prescription, pp. 146-150. Tradition and the Gnostics, p. 148. 
The argument from the unity of different Churches loses its force in the 
hands of Roman Catholics, p. 150. 


The claims of tradition to interpret Scripture may be used so as to super- 
sede Scripture, p. 152. Newman's attempt to reconcile the Sixth Article 
with Roman teaching, p. 152. The doctrine and practice of Athanasius, 
p. 153. The use of tradition in excluding new-fangled interpretations, 
p. 154 ; for instance, of the text 'Thou art Peter,' p. 154. Use of tradi- 
tion in matters of ritual, p. 155. Washing of feet, p. 155. Baptism by 
affusion, Extreme Unction, p. 156. Use of tradition in proof of abstract 
doctrine, p. 157. Patristical Messianic interpretations, St. Barnabas, 
p. 158. Cardinal Newman's examples, p. 159. General principle of 



early Patristical interpretation of O. T., p. 159; Patristical interpretation 
and the Blessed Virgin, p. 161. 

The two great schools of interpretation, p. 161. Allegorical inter- 
pretation of the Alexandrian school, p. 162 ; its spread to the West, p. 
163. The method used in answering heathen objections, p. 164. The 
Syrian School its founders, p. 165. Origen's three senses of Scripture, 
p. 1 66. The mediaeval division, p. 166. Dangers of the allegorical 
method, p. 167. 


LIBILITY . . i6q 

The existence somewhere of an infallible guide usually taken for granted 
by Romanists without proof, p. 170. The notes of the Church, p. 170. 
Timidity of the Church of Rome in exercising her supposed gift of infal- 
libility, p. 172. Seymour's Mornings with the Jesuits, p. 173. Has the 
Church of Rome formally claimed infallibility, p. 173. The lateness of 
the claim disproves its validity, p. 175. Disputes as to the organ of 
infallibility, p. 175. Ambiguity of word ' authority,' p. 177. The inter- 
ference of the one kind of authority always welcomed, that of the other 
deprecated, p. 177. The history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Con- 
ception, p. 179. Sixtus IV. ; the Council of Trent, p. 180. Bishop 
Milner's view, p. 182. Pius IX., p. 183. The controversy about oppor- 
tunism, p. 184. The congregations de auxiliis, p. 185. Bellarmine's 
share in the controversy, p. 185. Fear of secession shows want of faith 
in Roman claims, p. 186. 



Roman teaching has a double face, p. 188 : (i) No authorized commen- 
tary on Sxaipture, p. 189 ; Macnamara's Bible and the Rhemish notes, 
p. 189 ; the Romish doctrine concerning the punishment of heretics, 
p. 190. Why heretics, who did not recant, were burnt alive, p. 192 ; 
Leo X. on the burning of heretics, p. 192. (2) Catechisms not secured 
from error, p. 191 ; (3) nor is the teaching of ordinary priests, p. 193; 
nor even of canonized saints ; Liguori, p. 195 ; his Mariolatry ; his moral 
theology, p. 195; Newman's defence, p. 196. (4) No guarantee of the 
truth of the miracles related in the Breviary or in Bulls of canonization, 
p. 197 ; the holy house at Loretto, p. 197. (5) Alleged divine revela- 
tions : their truth not guaranteed, p. 198 ; St. Philumena, p. 198. 





Popular Romanism and the Romanism of Trent, p. 201 ; the former has 
better claims than the latter to represent the true teaching of the Church, 
p. 202. The idea of Pusey's Eirenicon, p. 202. The two forms of 
Romanism rest on different rules of faith, p. 204. Imagined recipients 
of Divine revelations, p. 204 ; their acceptance by Roman Catholics, p. 205. 
Revelations about Purgatory : Faber, Louvet, p. 206. The Dialogues of 
Gregory the Great, p. 207. The map of Purgatory, p. 208 ; the ordinary 
time of stay in Purgatory, p. 210. Atrocity of the sufferings there, p. 211. 
St. Patrick's Purgatory, p. 212. Silence of the infallible guide as to the 
truth of these stories, p. 214. Growth of belief in the Roman Church, 
p. 215 ; the Pope's neglect to direct that growth, p. 215. Father Ryder's 
reply, p. 216. The Montanists and private revelations, p. 217 ; such reve- 
lations encroach on the supreme authority of Scripture, p. 218. The 
miracle of La Salette, p. 219. No real faith in easy acceptance of alleged 
revelations, p. 220. The miracle of Lourdes, p. 221. Pilgrimages made 
easy, p. 221. The Pope's infallibity does not extend to matters of fact, 
p. 222. Use made of this principle in the Jansenist controversy, p. 222. 
Modern miracles the foundation of doctrines, p. 223. Marguerite Marie 
Alacoque; the devotion to the Sacred Heart, p. 224. 


Biblical criticism, pp. 226-229. The edition of the Vulgate prepared by 
Sixtus V., p. 226. Bellarmine's way of accounting for its errors, p. 228. 
The Clementine edition, p. 229. 

The case of Galileo, pp. 229-254. Galileo's discoveries, p. 230 ; 
his views as to the interpretation of Scripture, p. 232 ; in expressing 
these views he did not travel out of his province, p. 233. How earlier 
Copernicans had avoided collision with the Church, p. 234. How 
Galileo escaped condemnation in 1616, p. 235. The report of the 
'qualifiers' in Galileo's case, p. 236. The decree of the Congregation 
of the Index, p. 237. Prohibitory and expurgatory indexes, p. 237. 
The Jesuits' 'Newton,' p. 238. Roman despotism leads to scepticism, 
p. 238. Abandonment of the attempt to insist on the immobility of the 
earth, p. 239. The Abbe Cloquet and Father Ryder, p. 240. Galileo's 
Dialogue, p. 241 ; his summons before the Inquisition and his condemna- 
tion, p. 242 ; how treated after his abjuration, p. 243 ; can his treatment 
be described as lenient, p. 244 ; had he been tortured, p. 246. The apology 
that the scientific arguments used by Galileo were not conclusive, p. 247. 
It is not merely the doctrine of the Pope's personal infallibility that is 



affected by the case of Galileo, p. 248. The apology that the question at 
issue did not concern faith or morals, p. 248. How far the Pope was per- 
sonally responsible for Galileo's condemnation, p. 249. Modern parallel 
cases, p. 250. The apology that the Pope exercised only his disciplinary, 
not his teaching power, p. 251. The apology that the condemnation wants 
the customary clause of Papal confirmation, p. 252. Papal measures for 
the publication of the sentence on Galileo, p. 253. Mr. St. George Mivart 
on Galileo's case, p. 254. 


The Gallican Theory, p. 257. Louis XIV. and his disputes with the 
Pope, p. 258. The four Gallican Propositions of 1682, p. 259. The 
Council of Constance, p. 260. Whether the French bishops were unani- 
mous on this occasion, p. 261. Cause of the want of permanence of Gal- 
licanism, p. 261 ; Gallicanism after the death of Louis XIV., p. 262. 
Causes of reaction in France in favour of Ultramontanism, p. 263. Preva- 
lence until lately of Gallican principles in Ireland, p. 263 ; practical inu- 
tility of the Gallican rules, p. 265. The phrase of Vincentius Lirinensis, 
p. 265. ' Securus judicat orbis terrarum,' p. 266. The Donatists the true 
antitype of the Romanists, p. 267. Numbers no test of truth, p. 267. 
Christ's promises to His Church, p. 268. Protestant views on Infalli- 
bility, p. 269. Causes tending to produce a corruption of Christian Doc- 
trine, p. 270. The theory of development inconsistent with respect for 
the Fathers, p. 270; or with respect for Scripture, p. 271. There is a 
true development of Christian doctrine, p. 271. The doctrine of develop- 
ment fatal to the Gallican theory, p. 272. Dr. Pusey's theory of infalli- 
bility and Harper's criticism on it, p. 273. 


The claim of Councils to be regarded as the main organ of the Church's 
Infallibility is no longer upheld, p. 274. Local Councils, the need for 
them, p. 275. The Quartodeciman controversy, p. 276. The real services 
rendered by Councils may be acknowledged without overlooking their im- 
perfections, p. 277. In what consists the real value of their decisions, p. 279. 
The badness of the arguments used at Councils, p. 280. The dictum of 
St. Francis de Sales, p. 280. Constantine's attempt to silence the Arian 
disputes, p. 280. The idea of the infallibility of the Roman bishops could 
not then have arisen, p. 281. Councils unnecessaay if the Pope be infal- 
lible, p. 282. The Nicene Council, p. 283. Scantiness of original materials 
of knowledge of its proceedings, p. 283. Athanasius, p. 284. The term 

CONTENTS. xxiii 

' Homoousios,' p. 285 ; objections to its introduction, p. 286. Proofs of 

the veneration in which the decrees of the General Councils have been 
held, p. 287 ; yet they did not possess this authority from the first, p. 287 ; 
it was no point of faith to receive them as infallible, p. 288. What recep- 
tion is given to Councils by our Church, p. 289. What General Councils 
acknowledged by the Church of England, p. 289. The Council of Con- 
stantinople, pp. 290 295. Gregory Nazianzen, p. 290. The schism at 
Antioch; Meletius, p. 291. Gregory's treatment by the Council, p. 292 ; 
his resentment, p. 293. 


Why the decision of the Nicene Council was not regarded as final, 
p. 296 ; the third and fourth General Councils, p. 297. Cyril of Alex- 
andria, pp. 298 303. Newman's defence of Cyril's character, p. 301. 
The unfairness of the proceedings at Ephesus, p. 304. By what 
kind of majority must the acts of a Council be carried, p. 304. How 
unanimity is at present obtained, p. 305. The condemnation of 
Nestorius really obtained not at Ephesus but at Constantinople, p. 305 ; 
and by what means, p. 306. The presidency of Councils did not belong 
to the Roman representative, p. 307. Opposite parties victorious at third 
and at fourth Council, p. 307. Theological violence at Alexandria, p. 308. 
The Robber Synod, p. 309. Acclamations at Councils, p. 310. Disorder 
at Council of Trent, p. 312. The ill success of Chalcedon, p. 313. 
Badness of arguments used at Councils, p. 314. The second Council of 
Nicaea, p. 314. The Council of Constance, p. 315. The Council of 
Florence, p. 316. The Vatican Council, p. 317; the unfairness of the 
representation there, 318 ; and of the manner of conducting business, p. 
319. How a vote was arrived at, p. 321. How the chance of arriving at 
truth is prejudiced by the claim to infallibility, p. 322. 


The theory which makes the Pope the organ of infallibility is that which 
the a priori arguments require, p. 323. This theory, however, condemned 
by its novelty, p. 324. To establish the Pope's supremacy would not be 
enough to prove his infallibility, p. 325. 

The Scripture Argument : Four things to be proved, p. 325. Ro- 
manists dispense with proof of two of them, p. 326. The three texts, 



p. 326. General presumption against the Roman Catholic theory, p. 326. 
No hint in the New Testament that Peter was to have a successor, p. 327. 
The text from St. Matthew, Dr. Murray's exposition of, p. 327 ; 
disagreement of the Fathers about this text, p. 328. Launoy : Mal- 
donatus, p. 329. St. Augustine's exposition, p. 330. The mere fact of 
diversity of interpretation is decisive against the Romanist theory, p. 331. 
Whether the same metaphor may be used with different applications, 
p. 332. To interpret the 'Rock' of St. Peter, need not conflict with the 
general doctrine of Scripture, p. 332. This interpretation required by 
the context, p. 333. Consideration of the occasion on which the words 
were spoken, p. 334. In what sense the Church was founded on Peter, 

P- 335- 

The text from St. Luke, p. 336. The words personal to St. Peter, 

p. 337 ; and conferred on him no exclusive privilege, p. 337. Paul un- 
conscious of Peter's privileges, p. 337. St. Chrysostom's commentary, 

P- 338. 

The text in St. John, p. 339. This also conferred no exclusive pri- 
vilege, p. 339. How the passage is explained by Cyril of Alexandria, 
p. 340. The Clementines make James, not Peter, the head of the Church, 
P- 340. 


Traditional account of Peter's Episcopate, p. 341. Peter not at Rome 
during any of the time on which the Canonical Scriptures throw much 
light, p. 341. Whether Peter was ever at Rome, p. 342. The ' immortal 
discussion at Rome,' p. 342. Reasons for believing in Peter's Roman 
martyrdom, p. 343. Peter the first absentee bishop, p. 344; and the 
first to give up a poorer see for a richer, p. 344. The story of the An- 
tiochene Episcopate, p. 345. The Roman Episcopate, p. 346. The 
account of Irenseus, p. 346. The Gospel preached at Rome before 
the arrival of any Apostle, p. 348. Dollinger on the origin of Episco- 
pacy, p. 350. How he explains away the story of Peter's twenty-five 
years' Episcopate, p. 351. The list of Hegesippus, p. 352. The list of 
Epiphanius, p. 353. Reasons for thinking that Epiphanius used Hege- 
sippus, p. 354. The real inventor of the story of Peter's Roman 
Episcopate, p. 355. Consequent perplexity of the chronology, p. 355. 
The true order of the first three bishops, p. 355. Inconvenience of too 
early a date for the commencement of the Roman Episcopate, p. 356. 
The chronology of Hippolytus, p. 357. Paul as much bishop of Rome 
as St. Peter, p. 358. Whether one Church could have two bishops at 
the same time, p. 359. How Epiphanius was led to his peculiar notions 
on this subject, p. 359. 




The historical test of interpretations of Scripture, p. 360. The oath 
taken by Roman Catholic bishops, p. 361. Newman abandons tradition 
as a basis for the doctrine of Papal Supremacy, p. 361. The basis of 
Development is insufficient, p. 362. Natural causes of Roman primacy, 
p. 364. Connexion between the ecclesiastical and the civil precedence 
of cities, p. 365. The claims of Jerusalem, p. 366. The munificence of 
the Roman Church, p. 368. The weakness of Constantinople in historical 
associations, p. 370. The Epistle of Clement of Rome, p. 371 ; this 
letter contains no attempt to domineer over provincial Churches, p. 373. 
The primacy resided, not in the bishop, but in the Church of Rome, 
p. 374. The Ignatian Epistles, p. 374. The testimony of Irenseus, 
p. 375. Victor and the Quartodecimans, p. 377. The Quartodeciman 
usage, why disliked in the West, p. 378. What was meant by excom- 
munication in the second century, p. 379. Victor's failure a disproof of 
Roman supremacy, p. 381. The Montanist controversy, p. 381. Ter- 
tullian's resistance to the absolutions given by the Roman bishop, p. 383. 
Hippolytus and Callistus, pp. 383 388. 



The difficulty at times of ascertaining who the bishop of Rome was, 
p. 389. The great Western schism, pp. 390 394. The appointment of 
the Roman bishop regarded as a matter of mere local concern, p. 395. 
The necessity of discriminating authorities geographically, p. 396. The 
notion of Roman supremacy took its origin from Rome, and is found 
nowhere except as propagated from Rome, p. 397. The cause of Rome 
helped by Eastern divisions, p. 398. What bishop of Rome first claimed 
privileges as Peter's successor, p. 399. Firmilian and Stephen, p. 400. 
Cyprian's earlier refusal to accept Stephen's authority, p. 401. The 
Donatist controversy, p. 403. The Council of Sardica, p. 405. The 
Semi-Arian Council of Antioch, p. 407. The case of Apiarius, p. 408. 
Apology for the Roman misquotation, p. 409. The Pope's liability to 
error with regard to matters of. fact, p. 410. The Jansenist controversy, 
p. 410. Western interference resisted at the time of the second General 
Council, p. 412. St. Jerome and the claims of Rome, p. 413. The 
Nicene sixth Canon, p. 414. The Roman patriarchate, p. 415. The 
Council of Constantinople, p. 416. The Council of Chalcedon, p. 416. 
The title of Universal bishop, p. 417. 





The claim to infallibility, how suggested, p. 419. The fall of Liberius, 
420 423. Felix II., 423. Zosimus and the Pelagian controversy, 
p. 424. Leo and the Eutychian controversy, p. 426. Vigilius and the 
fifth Council, p. 427. The case of Honorius, pp. 427437. When the 
Pope speaks ex cathedra, pp. 429 433. ' Obiter dicta ' : Pope Nicolas 
I. and the Bulgarians, p. 431. The condition approved by the Vatican 
Council, p. 432 ; Eugenius IV. and his instruction to the Armenians, 
p. 432. The Monothelite heresy, p. 434. If the Pope be infallible, he 
is still not an infallible guide, p. 436. 


The maximizers and the minimizers, p. 438. How to sum up the Roman 
Catholic doctrine about Papal Infallibility, p. 439. The Encyclical 
'quanta cura' and the Syllabus, pp. 439 442. The Roman claims have 
taken their growth out of two forgeries, p. 443. 

The Decretal Epistles, pp. 443 449. It was natural that Western 
bishops should seek advice from Rome, p. 443. The earliest genuine 
Decretal Epistle, p. 444. The use made of the forged decretals by- 
Pope Nicolas L, p. 445 ; and by Gregory VII., p. 445. The evi- 
dence of the spuriousness of the forged decretals, p. 447. The time 
and probable place of the forgery, p. 447. The excuse that this 
forgery did not originate at Rome, p. 449. Other Roman forgeries, 
P- 450. 

Modern defence of the exercise of the deposing power by the 
mediaeval Popes, pp. 451455 ; this defence puts the Papal claims 
on different grounds from that on which the Pope himself rested it, 
P- 455- The deposition of the Emperor Henry by Gregory VII., p. 456. 
Innocent III. on the papal power, p. 456. Boniface VIII. and the Bull 
' Unam sanctam,' p. 457. The claim to the deposing power a stumbling- 
block in the way of any theory of Infallibility, p. 458. The Pope's 
temporal power shown by Bellarmine to result necessarily when his 
infallibility is admitted, p. 459 ; the doctrine of Infallibility thus brought 
to an experimental test, p. 461. Manning's apology for the case of 
King John, p. 462. The Popes as temporal princes, p. 463 ; how they 
acquired their Italian States, p. 465 ; how they governed them, p. 465. 
Conclusion of the argument, pp. 467469. 

CONTENTS. xxvii 



Constitutio Dogmatica de Fide Catholica, cc. i.-iv., 471. Canones, 
i. -IV., 477. Constitutio Dogmatica Primade Ecclesia Christi, cc. i.-vi., 
479. Suspensio Concilii, 484. 

INDEX 4.85 



WHEN I attended the Lectures of the Regius Professor 
of Divinity, now more than forty years ago, the pre- 
scribed division of his year's work was, that in one Term he 
gave a course of lectures on the Bible ; in another, on the 
Articles ; in the third, on the Liturgy. When I succeeded to 
the Chair myself, I found that, for several years previously, 
the subject of this Term's lectures, as set down in the Uni- 
versity Calendar, had been, not the Articles, but the Roman 
Catholic Controversy. It is easy to understand how the change 
took place. It was, of course, impossible in the Lectures of 
one Term to treat of all the Articles ; and, some selection 
being necessary, it was natural that the Professor, on whom 
the duty is imposed by statute of giving instruction on the 
controversies which our Church has to carry on with her 
adversaries, whether within or without the pale of Chris- 
tianity, should select for consideration the Articles bearing 
on the controversy which in this country is most pressing, 
and in which the members of our Church took the deepest 
interest the controversy with Rome. This limitation of my 
subject being only suggested by precedent, not imposed on 
me by authority, I was free to disregard it. As I have not 
done so, I think I ought to begin by telling you my reasons 
for agreeing with my predecessors in regarding the study of 
this controversy as profitable employment for the Lectures of 
this Term. 

I readily own, indeed, that I have found, both inside and 
outside the University, that this controversy does not excite 



the same interest now that it did even a dozen years ago. 
In your voluntary Society, in which the members read theo- 
logical essays on subjects of their own selection, I notice that 
topics bearing on this controversy are now but rarely chosen ; 
whereas I can remember when they predominated, almost to 
the exclusion of other subjects. There are many reasons for 
this decline of interest. 

One effect of Disestablishment, in not merely reviving the 
synodical action of the Church, but widely extending it, intro- 
ducing the laity into Church councils, and entrusting to them 
a share in the determination of most important questions, has 
been to concentrate the interest of our people on the subjects 
discussed in such assemblies ; and in this way our little 
disputes with each other have left us no time to think of the 
far wider differences that separate us from Rome on the one 
hand, and from various dissenting sects on the other. But 
besides this cause, special to ourselves, of decline of interest 
in the Roman Catholic controversy, there are others which 
have operated in England as well as here. 

First, I may mention a reaction against certain extreme 
anti-Romanist over-statements. It was only to be expected 
that, at the time of the Reformation, men who had with a vio- 
lent effort wrenched themselves away from beliefs in which 
they had been brought up, and who, for the exercise of this 
freedom of thought, were being persecuted to the death, should 
think far more of their points of difference from their perse- 
cutors than of the points on which they agreed with them. 
A considerable section of the men who had witnessed the 
bloody scenes of Queen Mary's reign scarcely thought of their 
adversaries as worshippers of the same God as themselves. 
The form in which one of the opponents of Queen Elizabeth's 
marriage with a French prince put the question as to the 
lawfulness of marriage with a Roman Catholic was, whether 
it was lawful for a child of God to wed with a son of the 
devil. When Fox, the Martyrologist, has to speak of the 
religious services, not merely of the Roman Catholics of his 
own day, but of the Church in the days before any reforma- 
tion had been attempted, he seems to regard them as fit 


subjects for ridicule and insult. It would be easy to quote 
specimens that would grate on the feelings of those of us 
who have least sympathy with Rome. When Fox has to 
tell of what he could well remember the prayers which the 
Romanists offered up on the occasion of the supposed preg- 
nancy of Queen Mary he mocks them with the taunt of 
Elijah, ' Cry up louder, you priests, peradventure your god is 
asleep.' He does not seem to have reflected that the prayers 
in question were addressed, not to Baal, but to the same God 
whom he worshipped himself. 

But modern conceptions of the proper attitude of mind 
of a historian require him to strive to enter impartially 
into the feelings of all his characters. We can now find 
apologies even for the magistrates who shed the blood 
of the first Christians, and whom their victims regarded 
in no other light than as the instruments of Satan. We 
can now recognize that many of them were grave magis- 
trates, simply anxious to do their duty in carrying out 
the law ; some of them humane men, who were sincerely 
grieved by what they regarded as the unreasonable obsti- 
nacy of those who left them no option but to proceed to 
the last extremities. One of the most harrowing and most 
authentic tales now extant of Christian heroism and heathen 
cruelty relates things done with the express sanction of 
Marcus Aurelius, the man who, of all the heathen of whom 
we have knowledge, approached nearest to Christian excel- 
lence; nay, who surpassed many professors of a better creed 
in purity of life, in meekness, gentleness, unselfish anxiety at 
any cost to do his duty. No wonder, then, that we can find apo- 
logies, too, for Roman Catholic persecutors, and believe that 
many a judge who sent a heretic to the stake may have been 
a conscientious, good man, fulfilling what he regarded as an 
unpleasant duty, and no more a monster of inhumanity than 
one of the hanging judges of George the Third's reign, who 
at one assizes sent scores of criminals to the gallows. If we 
can judge less harshly of Roman Catholic persecutors, it is 
still easier to judge mildly of ordinary Roman Catholics. 
With some of them we may perhaps be personally acquainted, 

B 2 


and may know them to be not only just and honourable in 
the ordinary affairs of life, but, according to their lights, sin- 
cerely pious, living in the devout belief of the cardinal truths 
of our faith. 

The feeling that there are many things in which we agree 
with Roman Catholics has been helped by the increased cir- 
culation among members of the Anglican Church of pre- 
Reformation, or distinctly Roman Catholic, books of devotion. 
In England especially, where Roman Catholics are few, and 
where the controversy with dissent has been the most urgent, 
members of the Established Church, besides the natural dis- 
position to indulgence towards the less formidable enemy, 
sympathize the more with those who share with them not 
onlyjtheir common Christianity, but also attachment to Epis- 
copacy and to an ancient liturgy. And I must not omit to 
mention that, with regard to Eucharistic doctrine, a great 
change has taken place during the last quarter of a century 
in the feelings of the English clergy. Views are held by men 
who pass as moderate which, when I was young, a man would 
be accounted violently extreme for maintaining ; while the 
opinions put forward by men who now rank as extreme would, 
in days that I can remember, have been considered absolutely 
outside the limits imposed by our Church's teaching. Hence 
has naturally sprung an inclination to sympathize with those 
with whom unity exists on this important subject, to the dis- 
regard^of differences perhaps in real truth more vital. 

In addition to the causes I have mentioned, the struggle 
with unbelief has benefited the cause of Romanism. In the 
first place, some of the minds less docile to authority, less 
inclined to mysticism, who, had they remained among us, 
would have been ranged strongly on the anti-Romanist side, 
have been lost to Christianity altogether ; and this fact has 
increased the proportion of sympathizers with Romanism 
among those who still remain. Again, there are many 
whose temptations are altogether on the side of scepticism, 
and who, feeling themselves in danger of being worsted in 
the cruel conflict with doubt, have recoiled towards Rome, 
under the idea that there they would be safer. Distressed at 


results to which free inquiry seemed to lead them, they have 
determined to attempt no more to think for themselves, but 
submit themselves resignedly to the yoke of authority ; and 
where can authority be found which gives more promise of 
relieving men of the responsibility of self-direction than that 
of a Church which claims to be infallible r In point of fact, a 
majority of the perverts which Rome has made in later years 
have been made through the road of scepticism ; and I have 
known Romish advocates unscrupulously use sceptical argu- 
ments, in order that their victims, despairing of finding 
elsewhere a solution of their doubts, might be so glad to 
welcome a Church which offered them certainty, as to be 
disinclined to make too minute an examination of her power 
to fulfil her promises. 

Once more, the growth of scepticism has produced in 
another way disinclination to the Roman controversy. There 
are many nominal members of our Church who adhere to the 
profession of a creed which was that of their fathers, but who 
have little concern for religious truth ; who are apt to think 
that a man's religion is his own affair, with which other peo- 
ple have no business to concern themselves; and that whether 
his belief be true or false does not really much matter. 
Such persons are apt to regard any attempt to show that 
Roman teaching is false as a wanton attack on poor, harmless 
Roman Catholics, and as little different from personal abuse 
of unoffending people. I fear it will be a long time before 
men are so philosophic as to understand that a man is not 
your enemy because he tries to correct errors in your opinions, 
and that the more important the subject the greater the ser- 
vice he will render you if he makes you change your false 
opinion for a true one. 

I have enumerated causes enough (and more might be 
added, if I were to speak of the influence of political changes) 
to explain the undoubted fact, that less interest is generally 
felt in the Roman Catholic controversy now than was felt 
twenty or thirty years ago. Yet I have no hesitation in 
presenting it to you as a subject, in acquiring a knowledge 
of which your time will be well spent. What use you are 


hereafter to make of your knowledge will depend upon cir- 
cumstances in which you must be guided by considerations 
of expediency. 

In different times, and in different circumstances, different 
dangers are formidable, and a man exercises a wise discre- 
tion in devoting his chief energies to combating the dangers 
which are most threatening at the time. Both in politics and 
in religion parties are apt to make the mistake of carrying on 
traditional warfare with enemies whose power has now de- 
cayed, and neglecting the silent growth of foes now far more 
formidable : in politics, for instance, delighting to weaken 
the executive government on account of instances of royal 
tyranny two hundred years ago, and taking no account of the 
opposite danger of anarchy : in religion, fearing only lest 
men should believe too much, and not noticing that in many 
places now the danger is lest they should not believe at all. 
I had occasion last Term to remark, thatjat different periods 
of St. Paul's life different controversies engaged him ; and I 
pointed out that to overlook this was the fundamental error 
of Baur, who denied the genuineness of all Paul's letters 
which did not give prominence to that controversy which is 
the main subject of the four letters that Baur admitted. 
Thus, I can quite acknowledge that different circumstances 
may make it wise to insist on different topics, and that it 
is not judicious to make the Roman controversy the main 
object at all times and in all places."! But a man must be 
blind, indeed, if he imagines that there is no danger from 
Romanism. Even in England it is often formidable. In 
Ireland there is no place where it is not pressing. 

I am not in the least ashamed of the object aimed at in 
the Roman Catholic controversy. I believe that the Church 
of Rome teaches false doctrine on many points which must 
be called important, if anything in religion can be called 
important ; and it is not merely that on some particular 
points the teaching of that Church is erroneous, but they 
who submit to her are obliged to surrender their under- 
standing to her, and submit to be led blindfold they know 
not whither. I count it, then, a very good work to release a 


man from Roman bondage a release of which I think he 
will be the better, both as regards the things of eternity 
and those of time. The only question, then, that I should be 
disposed to entertain as to the expediency of direct contro- 
versy with Roman Catholics is, whether or not such contro- 
versy may be expected to eventuate in their conversion. It 
is notorious that many controversial efforts have been made 
with no other result than that of embittering those to whom 
they were addressed. We are not commanded to cast our 
pearls before animals who are likely to turn again and rend 
us ; and if the state of men's feelings is such'as to indispose 
them for a candid consideration of the truths set before them, 
then prudence may forbid the attempt. Of course, what I 
am saying would apply to the use of prudence in preaching 
Christianity just as much as in preaching Protestantism. In 
either case we are blameworthy if we preach the truth to 
others in such a way as to make them less likely to accept it. 
But, fully granting all this, I hold that it is unworthy of any 
man who possesses knowledge to keep his knowledge to him- 
self, and rejoice in his own enlightenment, without making 
any effort to bring others to share in his privileges. Justly 
did the four lepers at the gate of Samaria feel their con- 
science smite them : ' We do not well ; this is a day of good 
tidings, and we hold our peace.' Had those to whom the 
light of Christianity was first given dealt so with our an- 
cestors, we should still be lying in heathen darkness. 

But, even if it should not be your duty hereafter to make 
any aggressive efforts for the dissemination of the truth, you 
may still be forced to take up the Roman Catholic contro- 
versy for the safety of the people committed to your own 
care. The most ardent admirer of peace societies may be 
forced to own that muskets and cannon have some use if an 
invasion be made on our own shores. And certainly our 
Roman Catholic countrymen have not that aversion to pro- 
selytism (at least when it is made in what they account the 
right direction) that some among ourselves recommend as a 
virtue. The poorer members of our Church 'especially are 
under constant pressure from the eagerness of their neigh- 



hours to win them over to the faith of 'the true Church'- 
pressure which it would often much advance their worldly 
interests to give way to. Why should they not give way, if 
you, who are their spiritual guides, can give them no reason 
for refusing to submit to the Roman claims ? 

And setting aside the consideration of our duty to others, 
our duty to ourselves requires us not to shrink from a full 
and candid examination of the validity of the Roman claims. 
Can we believe in our Lord's Divinity believe that He 
founded a Church, and not care to inquire whether or not it 
is true that He appointed a vicegerent upon earth to govern 
that Church, from whom His people are bound submissively 
to learn the truths of His religion, and apart from whom 
there can be no salvation ? Again, if anyone acknowledges 
that Christ intended His people to be one, and that anyone 
commits a sin who makes causeless schisms and divisions in 
His body, he cannot justify his remaining separated in com- 
munion from the large numerical majority of the Christians 
of this country, if he thinks that his differences with them all 
relate to subordinate and trifling matters. For a man to say 
that he feels no interest in the Roman Catholic controversy, 
is to say that he thinks some of the most important religious 
questions that can be raised quite undeserving his atten- 
tion ; that he does not care to know what are the conditions 
which Christ has appointed for his salvation, and whether 
union with the Church of Rome be not one of them. I 
am persuaded that, if Romanism were true, it would be 
more tolerable in the Day of Judgment for a Protestant like 
myself, who has done his best to examine into the subject, 
and, however mistakenly, yet honestly, arrived at the convic- 
tion that the claims of Rome are unfounded, than for one 
who conceives himself entitled to indulge an eclectic sym- 
pathy with everything Roman that he, in his wisdom, may be 
pleased to call Catholic, but who disdains to inquire into the 
truth of other points of Roman teaching, and makes himself 
sure that he must be equally acceptable to God whether he 
be in the true Church or not. 

I have just called myself a Protestant ; and, in saying 


this, I use the word in its popular sense, in which it is equi- 
valent to non-Romanist. It is true that there are non-Ro- 
manists for example, members of the Greek Church to 
whom this name is not commonly applied; but this is be- 
cause we come so little in contact with Eastern Christians, that 
popular usage takes no account of them. I am aware that 
there are several who dislike to be called Protestant, because 
the title is one which can be equally claimed by men differing 
widely in opinion, and with some of whom we have little in 
common but opposition to Rome. But a man must be a 
poor logician if he does not know that objects may agree in 
a common attribute, and with respect to that attribute may 
be called by a common name, though differing widely in 
other points. The controversy with Rome is so important, 
that it is highly convenient to have a word expressing what 
side a man takes on it : that is to say, whether he accepts or 
rejects the Roman claims. Indeed, in these Lectures, it is 
impossible for me to dispense with the use of some word of 
the kind. Finding the word Protestant* in common use for 
this purpose, I do not trouble myself to look for any other, 
but frankly describe myself as a Protestant. And if a con- 
troversial attempt is made to hold me responsible for the 
opinions of everyone else described under the same name, I 
do not expect to be more embarrassed than were the men of 
the early Church when their heathen opponents attempted to 

* I consider that we are not concerned with the history of the word, which in its 
origin had nothing to do with protesting against the errors of Popery, but with pro- 
testing against the decrees of a Diet of the German Empire, viz. that of Spires, in 
1529. At that Diet the liberty was taken away from the sovereign princes of the 
German Empire of regulating religious affairs each in his own territory, according to 
his discretion. Against that decree of the majority certain princes protested, and 
appealed to the Emperor, on the ground that the decree was ultra -vires, for that a 
majority of votes in the Diet could regulate a secular question, but not a spiritual or 
religious one. But the decree being made in the interests of those who wished to 
keep everything as it had been, and the protest against it by those who were desirous 
of reformation, it naturally happened that the party of the protestant princes and that 
of the Reformation should be synonymous. The word, however, has now come into 
popular use as denoting the non-Romanist members of the Western Church ; and this 
use of the word is too convenient to be let drop. We are no more concerned with 
the history of its origin than we are with the Athenian laws about the exportation of 
figs when we use the word ' sycophant.' 


hold them responsible for the opinions and practices of here- 
tics who had in common with them the title of Christian. 

By a Protestant, then, as I use the word, I mean one 
who has examined into the Roman claims, and has found 
reason to think them groundless ; one who knows that 
there are not only great and precious truths on which we 
agree with the Church of Rome, but also points of differ- 
ence so grave and fundamental as to justify our remaining 
in separate communion. If the Church of England or of 
Ireland be not, in this sense of the word, Protestant, her 
position cannot be defended at all. For her justification it 
is necessary to show not only that she is not bound to render 
any obedience to the Church of Rome, but also that the things 
demanded by that Church as conditions of union go beyond 
what one Church is bound to yield to another for the sake of 
godly union and concord among Christians, members of that 
one great Church of Christ, whose influence and extension 
through the world have notoriously been sadly impeded by 
internal dissensions and schisms. 

Thus, from a Roman Catholic point of view, the more our 
Church purged herself from the sin of heresy, the greater 
would be the guilt of her schism ; for the smaller the doc- 
trinal differences, the less justifiable pretext there would be 
for separation. And I think a Roman Catholic must hold 
that the more a member of our Church approximates to the 
doctrine of Rome, the worse he makes his spiritual condition, if 
that approximation does not bring him to the bosom of the 
true Church. For such a man can no longer plead the ex- 
cuse which an ultra-Protestant might urge, invincible igno- 
rance incapacitating him for receiving the Church's teaching, 
which, in his sincere belief, is deeply tainted with peril 
of idolatry.* I need say no more, then, to convince you 
that our time this Term will not be ill spent in studying this 

* See Newman's Anglican Difficulties, Lecture xi., where, having enlarged on the 
reasons which may excuse the unbelief of other persons outside the fold of his Church, 
he goes on to say that there is but one set of persons who inspire the Catholic with 
special anxiety, for whom he must feel the most intense interest, but about whom 
the gravest apprehensions, viz. those who have some rays of light vouchsafed them 
as to their heresy and as to their schism, and who seem to be closing their eyes upon it. 


controversy, inasmuch as on the successful maintenance of 
it by our Church depends her right to be accounted part of 
the true Church of Christ, and since a wrong decision on it, 
it is alleged, hazards our eternal salvation. 

Possibly there may be some here who have not needed 
argument to convince them of the importance of the contro- 
versy which I propose to discuss with you, but who may be 
disposed to imagine that no laborious study of it can be 
necessary. It is always irksome to be offered proof of what 
it has never occurred to us to doubt. The first impression of 
one who has been brought up from childhood to know and 
value his Bible is, that there is no room for discussion as to- 
the truth of the Roman Catholic doctrines, and that a few 
Scripture texts make an end of the whole controversy. He 
cannot conceive what ingenuity can reconcile prayers in an 
unknown tongue with the fourteenth chapter of the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians ; or the worship of the Virgin Mary 
with the text, ' There is one God, and one mediator between 
God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' And assuredly, if we 
desire to preserve our people from defection to Romanism, 
there is no better safeguard than familiarity with Holy 
Scripture. For example, the mere study of the character of 
our Blessed Lord, as recorded in the Gospel, is enough to- 
dissipate the idea that there can be others more loving and 
compassionate, or more ready to hear our prayers, than He. 
And the whole mental attitude of one who comes direct to- 
the Bible for guidance, praying that God's Holy Spirit will 
enable him to understand it, is opposed to the Romish 
system, which renders difficult all real direct access between 
the soul and God, through the interposition of countless 
mediators both in interpreting God's will to us and in 
making known our desires to Him. Thus, believing as I 
do that the Bible, not merely in single texts, but in its whole 
spirit, is antagonistic to the Romish system, I feel that it 
would be time ill spent if I were to spend much, in these 
Lectures, on the development of the argument from Scrip- 
ture. I should be well pleased if our adversaries were 
content to fight the battle on that ground ; but the dis- 


couragement which the Church of Rome has always offered 
to the study of the Bible by her people affords a presumption 
that she is against the Scriptures, because she feels the 
Scriptures are against her. 

But you would be greatly disappointed if you entered into 
controversial discussion with a Roman Catholic, expecting 
that by a few texts you could make an end of the whole 
matter. No one is much influenced by an authority with 
which he is not familiar. Roman Catholics generally are 
not familiar with the Bible ; and if they hear passages 
quoted from it in apparent contradiction with the doctrines 
in which they have been brought up, they are satisfied to 
believe, in a general way, that you must be quoting unfairly, 
and that the contradiction can only be apparent. With the 
Roman Catholic the authority of the Bible rests on the 
authority of the Church, and he receives with equal reve- 
rence and affection whatever else is communicated to him on 
the same authority. In arguing with a Protestant, he chal- 
lenges him to say on what grounds he can justify his submis- 
sion to the Bible if the authority of his Church be set aside ; 
and he is quite ready to assail with infidel arguments the 
independent authority of the Bible. For Rome's maxim has 
been, 'All or none'; and, like the false mother before King 
Solomon, she has been ready to slay the souls whom she is 
unable to keep. Thus the inexperienced Protestant, engaging 
in this discussion, is likely to find the arguments on which he 
had placed most confidence set aside altogether, or the texts 
which had seemed to him conclusive disposed of by evasions 
quite new to him ; while, on the other hand, he is plied with 
citations from ancient Fathers, purporting to show that his 
interpretations of Scripture are modern, and opposed to the 
judgment of all antiquity. Thus it frequently happens that 
an attack, begun with all the confidence of victory, ends in 
disappointment, and there is danger lest the disorder of 
failure should degenerate into total rout. 

What I am insisting on, then, is that, in this controversy, 
it would be a fatal error to despise your antagonists. Very 
often has it happened that untrained bands, full of high 


spirits, and confident in the goodness of their cause, have 
found that their undisciplined courage was no match for the 
superior science of their opponents, or have advanced into 
false positions, whence no courage could avail to extricate 
them. And so, unwary controversialists are apt to damage 
their cause by over-statements, to rest the success of their 
cause on the truth of assertions which cannot be proved, or 
on the validity of general principles which can be shown by 
cases of manifest exception not to be universally true. Now, 
the effect of a bad argument is always to damage the party 
who brings it forward ; for, when that is refuted, it is not 
merely that the argument goes for nothing, but a general dis- 
trust is produced in the other arguments which are brought 
forward on the same side. If a book were written containing 
a hundred reasons for not admitting the claims of the Roman 
Church, and if ninety of them were thoroughly conclusive, a 
Roman Catholic advocate who could show that the other ten 
were weak would be regarded by his own party as having 
given a triumphant reply, and as having entirely demolished 
his opponent's case. And I believe that many a perversion 
to Romanism has resulted from the discovery by a member of 
our Church that some of the arguments on which he had been 
accustomed to rely were bad, and from his then rashly jump- 
ing to the conclusion that no better arguments were to be had. 
For these reasons, if it should ever be your lot hereafter to 
engage in controversy, it will be essential to your success 
that you should have learned beforehand the strongest case 
that can be made by your opponents, in order that you may 
not be taken by surprise by anything likely to be advanced 
in the course of the discussion. You must be careful, also, to 
distinguish the authorized teaching of the Roman Catholic 
Church from the unguarded statements of particular divines, 
and not to charge the system as a whole with any con- 
sequences which Roman Catholics themselves repudiate. 
And, generally, you must beware of bad arguments, the 
fallacy of which, sooner or later, is sure to be exposed, when, 
like a gun bursting in the hand, they disable him who uses 
them. But there is a better reason for taking this course 


than that it is the more prudent one. Our object is not vic- 
tory, but truth ; for the subject is one of such importance, 
that a victory gained at the expense of truth would be one in 
which we should ourselves be the chief sufferers left blindly 
to wander from the truth, wilfully rejecting guidance which 
had been offered to us. 

With regard to myself, I feel that the strength of my con- 
viction of the baselessness of the case made by the Romish 
advocates removes any temptation to be niggardly in making 
any acknowledgment they can at all fairly claim. If you play 
chess with one to whom you know you can give the odds of a 
queen, you are not very solicitous to play the strict game. 
You allow your antagonist to take back moves if he will, and 
you are not much distressed in mind should he succeed in 
making some unimportant capture on which he has set his 
heart. I know that it is impossible to prove that the Pope 
can never go wrong, and quite possible to prove that in many 
cases he has gone wrong, and very seriously wrong ; so it 
costs my liberality absolutely nothing to acknowledge that 
on many occasions he has gone right. If the dispute is con- 
cerning some Roman Catholic doctrine which I know to be 
no part of primitive Christianity, it costs me no effort of 
candour if I see reason to acknowledge that the date of its 
introduction was a century earlier than some Protestant 
controversialists had asserted. 

On the other hand, the strength of my convictions may 
operate disadvantageously by rendering me unable to see 
any force in some Romish arguments, which, to other minds, 
seem very effective. When I take up some popular Roman 
Catholic books of controversy, although I am told they have 
been used with success in making perversions from our 
Church, they appear to me so feeble, that I feel little incli- 
nation to take the trouble of answering them. 

But I own that, if it were not that the office which I hold 
imposes on me the disagreeable necessity, controversy is not 
to my taste, and I engage in it reluctantly. I read the writ- 
ings of the Christian Fathers with a purely historical object, 
anxious to know how the men of former days believed and 


taught, and quite prepared to find that on many points their 
way of looking at things is not the same as mine. I take up 
then books of controversy, and both on one side and on the 
other I find that those who originally made extracts from 
the writings of the Fathers were more anxious to pick out 
some sentence in apparent contradiction with the views 
of their opponents, than to weigh dispassionately whether 
the question at issue in the modern controversy were at all 
present to thejnind of the author whom they quote, or to 
search whether elsewhere in his writings passages might not 
be found bearing a different aspect. The extracts thus picked 
out are copied, without verification, by one writer after an- 
other, so that, to one familiar with the controversy, books on 
it are apt to seem monotonous. And it constantly happens 
that at the present day controversial writers continue to em- 
ploy quotations from writings once supposed to be genuine, 
but which all learned critics now know to be spurious. I feel 
little inclination to enter into a detailed exposure of errors of 
this kind. I have said already that, to an unlearned Chris- 
tian, familiarity with the Bible affords the best safeguard 
against Romanism, and I will add now that a learned Chris- 
tian, who makes himself familiar, by uncontroversial reading, 
with the thoughts of the men of the ancient Church, finds 
that he is breathing a different atmosphere from that of 
modern Romanism, and that he cannot accept many things 
now propounded as articles of faith, unless he is prepared 
to say that on many important questions we are wiser than 
the Fathers. That is what Roman Catholic advocates now 
actually say : but then they have no right to quarrel with 
Protestants who say'the same. 

In one respect I have an advantage in addressing an 
audience all of one'jway of thinking, that I am not bound to 
measure my words through fear of giving offence, and that 
when I think opinions false and absurd, I can plainly say so. 
Yet I should be sorry so to use this liberty of mine that my 
example should mislead you afterwards. In every contro- 
versy the Christian teacher should put away all bitterness, 
4 in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.' In 


this controversy we have to deal with those whose feelings 
of piety and reverence have in part fastened themselves on 
unworthy objects ; and it requires a skilful hand gently to dis- 
engage these feelings, and give them a better training not 
tear them up and kill them. We assail credulity, not faith ; 
and we cannot use the weapons of those who deny the super- 
natural, and refuse to lift their thoughts above material things. 

Your future success in controversy, should it be your lot 
to engage in it, may depend much on the strength of your 
faith in truths not controverted. For no one is much influ- 
enced by those with whom he has no sympathies ; and your 
influence on those whom you would most wish to gain, and 
whom there is most hope of gaining those, I mean, who 
truly love our Lord, and whose will to do His will has the 
promise of being blessed by the guidance of His Spirit into 
truth must depend on yourselves being animated by the 
same love, and seeking for the guidance of the same Spirit. 

In the interests, then, of controversy itself, I might give 
the concluding caution, which I should in any case have 
added for the sake of your own spiritual health, namely, 
that you should not allow the pleasure which intellectual 
combat has for many minds to detain you too long in the 
thorny paths of controversy, and out of those pastures where 
your soul must find its nourishment. ' I love not,' says 
Taylor, ' to be one of the disputers of this world. For I 
suppose skill in controversies to be the worst part of learn- 
ing, and time is the worst spent in them, and men the least 
benefited by them.' When we must engage in controversy, 
it is not that we love contention, but that we love the truth 
which is at stake. Seek, then, in study of the Scriptures to 
know the truth, and pray that God will inspire you with a 
sincere love of it of the whole truth, and not merely of that 
portion of it which it may be your duty to defend and ask 
Him also to inspire you with a sincere love of your brethren : 
so that the end of all your controversy may be, not the dis- 
play of your own skill in arguing, not the obtaining of victory 
for yourself or for your party, but the mutual edification of all 
who take part in it, and their growth in likeness to Christ. 



YOU will easily understand that it would be absolutely 
impossible for me, in the course of these Lectures, to go 
through all the details of the Roman Catholic controversy. 
You have in your hands text-books which will give you 
information on all the most important points. But the 
truth is, that the issues of the controversy mainly turn 
on one great question, which is the only one that I ex- 
pect to be able to discuss with you I mean the ques- 
.tion of the Infallibility of the Church. If that be decided 
against us, our whole case is gone, and victories on 
the details of the controversy would profit us as little as, 
to use a favourite illustration of Archbishop Whately's, it 
profits a chess-player to win some pieces and pawns if he 
gets his king checkmated. In fact, suppose we make what 
seems to ourselves a quite convincing proof that some doc- 
trine of the Roman Church is not contained in Scripture, 
what does that avail if we are forced to own that that Church 
has access to other sources of information besides Scripture 
as to the doctrine taught by our Lord and His Apostles ? 
Suppose we even consider that we have proved a Roman 
doctrine to be contrary to Scripture, what does that avail if 
we are compelled to acknowledge that we are quite incom- 
petent to decide what is Scripture or what is the meaning of 
it, and if it belongs to the Church of Rome alone to give us 
the book and to teach us its true interpretation ? In like 
manner, if our study of history should lead us to the conclu- 
sion that the teaching of the present Church is at variance 




with the teaching of the Church of former days, we are forced 
to surrender this ill-grounded suspicion of ours if we are 
made to believe that the Church cannot err, and, as a neces- 
sary consequence, that her teaching must be at all times the 


One can scarcely open any book that attempts to deal 
with controversy by such a Roman Catholic as, for instance, 
Cardinal Manning, without being forced to observe how his 
faith in the infallibility of the present Church makes him 
impenetrable to all arguments. Suppose, for example, the 
question in dispute is the Pope's personal infallibility, and 
that you object to him the case of Honorius : he replies, At 
most you could make out that it is doubtful whether Ho- 
norius was orthodox; but it is certain that a Pope could not 
be a heretic. Well, you reply, at least the case of Honorius 
shows that the Church of the time supposed that a Pope 
could be a heretic. Not so, he answers, for the Church now 
holds that a Pope speaking ex cathedra cannot err, and the 
Church could not have taught differently at any other time. 

Thus, as long as anyone really believes in the infallibility 
of his Church, he is proof against any argument you can ply 
him with. Conversely, when faith in this principle is shaken, 
belief in some other Roman Catholic doctrine is sure also to 
be disturbed ; for there are some of these doctrines in respect 
of which nothing but a very strong belief that the Roman 
Church cannot decide wrongly will prevent a candid inquirer 
from coming to the conclusion that she has decided wrongly. 
This simplification, then, of the controversy realizes for us 
the wish of the Roman tyrant that all his enemies had but 
one neck. If we can but strike one blow, the whole battle is 

If the vital importance of this question of Infallibility 
had not been sufficiently evident from a priori considera- 
tions, I should have been convinced of it from the history 
of the Roman Catholic controversy as it has been conducted 
in my own lifetime. When I first came to an age to take 
lively interest in the subject, Dr. Newman and his coadjutors 
were publishing, in the Tr ads for the Times, excellent refuta- 


tions of the Roman doctrine on Purgatory and some other 
important points. A very few years afterwards, without 
making the smallest attempt to answer their own arguments, 
these men went over to Rome, and bound themselves to 
believe and teach as true things which they had themselves 
proved to be false. The accounts which those who went 
over in that movement gave of their reasons for the change 
show surprising indifference to the ordinary topics of the 
controversy, and in some cases leave us only obscurely to 
discern why they went at all. It was natural that many who 
witnessed the sudden collapse of the resistance which had 
been offered to Roman Catholic teaching should conclude 
that it had been a sham fight all along; but this was unjust. 
It rather resembled what not unfrequently occurs in the 
annals of warfare when, after entrenchments have been long 
and obstinately assaulted without success, some great general 
has taken up a position which has caused them to be eva- 
cuated without a struggle. 

While the writers of the Tracts were assailing with suc- 
cess different points of Roman teaching, they allowed them- 
selves to be persuaded that Christ must have provided His 
people with some infallible guide to truth ; and they accepted 
the Church of Rome as that guide, with scarcely an attempt 
to make a careful scrutiny of the grounds of her pretensions, 
and merely because, if she were not that guide, they knew 
not where else to find it. Thus, when they were beaten on 
the one question of Infallibility, their victories on other 
points availed them nothing. 

Perhaps those who then submitted to the Church of Rome 
scarcely realized all that was meant in their profession of 
faith in their new guide. They may have thought it meant 
no more than belief that everything the Church of Rome 
then taught was infallibly ^ true. Events soon taught them 
that it meant besides that they must believe everything that 
that Church might afterwards teach ; and her subsequent 
teaching put so great a strain on the faith of the new con- 
verts, that in a few cases it was more than it could bear. 

The idea that the doctrine of the Church of Rome is 

C 2 


always the same is one which no one of the present day can 
hold without putting an enormous strain on his understand- 
ing. It used to be the boast of Romish advocates that the 
teaching of their Church was unchangeable. Heretics, they 
used to say, show by their perpetual alterations that they 
never have had hold of the truth. They move the ancient 
landmarks without themselves foreseeing whither their new 
principles will lead them ; and so after a while, discovering 
their position to be untenable, they vainly try by constant 
changes to reduce their system to some semblance of con- 
sistency. Our Church, on the contrary, they said, ever 
teaches the same doctrine which has been handed down 
from the Apostles, and has since been taught ' everywhere, 
always, and by all.' Divines of our Church used to expose 
the falsity of this boast by comparing the doctrine now taught 
in the Church of Rome with that taught in the Church of 
early times, and thus established by historical proof that a 
change had occurred. But now the matter has been much 
simplified ; for no laborious proof is necessary to show that 
that is not unchangeable which has changed under our very 
eyes. The rate of change is not like that of the hour-hand 
of a watch, which you must note at some considerable in- 
tervals of time in order to see that there has been a move- 
ment, but rather like that of the second-hand, which you 
can actually see moving. 

The first trial of the faith of the new converts was the 
definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, in 
1852, when a doctrine was declared to be the universal 
ancient tradition of the Church, on which eminent divines 
had notoriously held different opinions, so much so, that 
this diversity had been accounted for by Bishop Milner and 
other controversialists by the assertion that neither Scripture 
nor tradition contained anything on the subject. 

The manner of that decree, intended to bind the universal 
Church, was remarkable. It was not a vote of a council. 
Bishops, indeed, had been previously consulted, and bishops 
were assembled to hear the decision ; but the decision rested 
on the authority of the Pope alone. It was correctly foreseen 


that what was then done was intended to establish a prece- 
dent. I remember then how the news came that the Pope 
proposed to assemble a council, and how those who had the 
best right to know predicted that this council was to ter- 
minate the long controversy as to the relative superiority of 
popes and councils, by owning the personal infallibility of 
the Pope, and so making it unnecessary that any future 
council should be held. This announcement created the 
greatest ferment in the Roman Catholic Church ; and those 
who passed for the men of highest learning in that commu- 
nion, and who had been wont to be most relied on, when 
learned Protestants were to be combated, opposed with all 
their might the contemplated definition, as an entire innova- 
tion on the traditional teaching of the Church, and as abso- 
lutely contradicted by the facts of history. These views were 
shared by Dr. Newman. His own inclinations had not fa- 
voured any extravagant cult of the Virgin Mary, and he was 
too well acquainted with Church History not to know that 
the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception was a complete 
novelty, unknown to early times, and, when first put for- 
ward, condemned by some of the most esteemed teachers of 
the Church. But when the Pope formally promulgated that 
doctrine as part of the essential faith of the Church, he had 
submitted in silence. When, however, it was proposed to de- 
clare the Pope's personal infallibility, this was a doctrine so 
directly in the teeth of history, that Newman made no secret, 
not only of his own disbelief of the doctrine, but also of his 
persuasion that the authoritative adoption of it would be at- 
tended with ruinous consequences to his Church, by placing 
what seemed an insuperable obstacle to any man of learning 
entering her fold. He wrote in passionate alarm to an Eng- 
lish Roman Catholic bishop : ' Why,' he said, * should an 
insolent aggressive faction be allowed to make the heart of 
the just sad, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful? I 
pray those early doctors of the Church, whose intercession 
would decide the matter (Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, 
Athanasius, Chrysostom, and Basil), to avert this great ca- 
lamity. If it is God's will that the Pope's infallibility be 


defined, then it is God's will to throw back the times and 
moments of the triumph which He has destined for His king- 
dom ; and I shall feel that I have but to bow my head to His 
inscrutable Providence.'* 

Abundant proof that the new dogma had, until then, been 
no part of the faith of the Church, was furnished by von 
Dollinger, at the time deservedly reputed to be the most 
learned man in the Roman communion, and amongst others 
by two Munich professors, who, under the name of Janus, 
published a work containing a mass of historical proofs of 
the novelty of the proposed decree. These arguments were 
urged by able bishops at the Vatican Council itself. But the 
Pope carried out his project in the teeth of historical demon- 
stration. A few of the most learned of the protesters against 
the new dogma refused to recognize thefdoctrine thus defined 
as that of the Catholic Church, and formed a schism, calling 
themselves ' Old Catholics.' But the bulk of the people had 
no inclination to trouble themselves with historical investiga- 
tions, and accepted, without inquiry, what their rulers were 
pleased to offer them ; and a number of the eminent men, 
who had not only denied the truth of the new dogma, but 
had proved its falsity to the satisfaction of every reasoning 
man, finding no other choice open to them, unless they aban- 
doned every theory as to the infallibility of the Church which 
they had previously maintained, and unless they joined a 
schism which, as was foreseen at the time, and as the event 
proved, would be insignificant in numbers, preferred to eat 
their words, and to profess faith^ in what it is difficult to 
think they could in their hearts have believed to be true. 

I own, the first impression produced by this history is one 
of discouragement. It seems hopeless to waste research or 
argument on men who have shown themselves determined 
not to be convinced. What hope is there that argument of 
mine can convince men who are not convinced bv their own 
arguments ? As long as there was a chance of saving their 
Church from committing herself to a decision in the teeth of 

* Letter published in the Standard, April 7, 1870. See Edinburgh Review, 
cxxxiv. 145. 


history, they struggled to avert the calamity ; showing by 
irrefragable arguments that the early Church never regarded 
the Pope to be infallible, and that different Popes had made 
decisions glaringly false. But having clearly shown that 
black was not white, no sooner had authority declared that it 
was than they professed themselves ready to believe it. 

But though it is, on the first view, disappointing that 
our adversaries should withdraw themselves into a position 
seemingly inaccessible to argument, it is really, as I shall 
presently show, a mark of our success that they have been 
driven from the open field, and forced to betake themselves 
into this fortress. And we have every encouragement to 
follow them, and assault their citadel, which is now their 
last refuge. 

In other words, it has now become more clear than ever 
that the whole Roman Catholic controversy turns on the de- 
cision of the one question the Infallibility of the Church. 
We have just seen how the admission of this principle can 
force men to surrender their most deep-rooted beliefs, which 
they had maintained with the greatest heat, and to the asser- 
tion of which they had committed themselves most strongly. 
They surrendered these beliefs solely in deference to external 
authority, though themselves unable to see any flaw in the 
arguments which had persuaded them of the truth of them. 
And I must say that, in making this surrender, they were 
better and more consistent Roman Catholics than von D61- 
linger and his friends, who refused to eat their words and 
turn their back on their own arguments. For all their lives 
long they had condemned the exercise of private judgment, 
and had insisted on the necessity of submitting to the au- 
thority of the Church. Now, if you accept the Church's teach- 
ing just so long as it agrees with what you, on other grounds, 
persuade yourselves to be true, and reject it as soon as it 
differs from your own judgment, that is not real submission 
to the authority of the Church. You do not take a man as 
a guide, though you may be travelling along a road in his 
company, if you are willing to part company if he should 
make a turn of which you disapprove. It matters not what 


Romish doctrines the German Old Catholic party may 
continue to hold. They may believe Transubstantiation, 
Purgatory, Invocation of Saints, and more. But from the 
moment they ventured to use their reason, and reject a 
dogma propounded to them by their Church, they were really 
Protestants ; they had adopted the great principle of Protes- 
tantism. And so, at the time of the formation of the Old 
Catholic party, I expressed my fears in a lecture here that 
its members would be able to find no home in the Roman 
Church. My fears, I say, for I count it a thing to be re- 
gretted that that Church, by casting out her most learned 
and most enlightened members, should lose all chance of 
recovering the truth by reform from within. 

If, however, there could ever be a case where men should 
be constrained by a reductio ad dbsurdum to abandon a prin- 
ciple they had held, but which had been shown to lead to 
consequences certainly false, it was when the men of the 
Old Catholic party found that if they were to go on main- 
taining the infallibility of their Church, they must also assert 
that she never had changed her doctrine. If, previous to the 
Vatican Council, the Church of Rome had known the doc- 
trine of the Pope's personal infallibility to be true, she had, 
somehow or another, so neglected to teach it, that though it 
is a doctrine relating to the very foundation of her religious 
system, her priests and bishops had been ignorant that it 
was any part of her teaching. The Infallibilist party at 
Rome had been obliged, at an early stage of their exertions, 
to get placed on the Prohibitory Index, Bailly's work on 
Theology, which had been used as a text-book at Maynooth. 
Would not any Roman Catholic say that the Church of Ire- 
land had changed her doctrine if the text-books which you 
use here were not only removed from your course, but if the 
Irish bishops published a declaration that these books, in 
which their predecessors had been wont to examine candi- 
dates for orders, contained erroneous doctrine, and were on 
that account unfit to be read by our people ? 

Again, the effect of the Vatican Council was to neces- 
sitate great changes in controversial catechisms. One might 


think that the clergymen who might be supposed best 
acquainted with the doctrines of their Church are those 
who are selected to conduct controversy with opponents. 
In our Church, indeed, anyone may engage in controversy 
at his own discretion, and need not necessarily be the 
most learned or wisest of our body; but the controversial 
catechisms of the Roman Church are only issued with the 
permission of the writer's superiors, and therefore their 
statements as to Roman Catholic doctrine may be supposed 
to tell what the best informed members of the communion 
believe that she teaches. Now, it had been a common 
practice with Roman Catholic controversial writers, when 
pressed with objections against the doctrine of the personal 
infallibility of the Pope, to repudiate that doctrine alto- 
gether, and to declare it to be a Protestant misrepresen- 
tation to assert that it was taught by their Church. 

I may afterwards have occasion to say something about 
books which circulated in America, but will now mention one 
to which my own attention happened to be specially drawn. 
The controversial book which, thirty years ago, was most 
relied on in this country was * Keenan's Catechism,' a book 
published with the imprimatur of Scotch Roman Catholic 
bishops, and recommended also by Irish prelates. This 
book contained the following question and answer : 

' Q. Must not Catholics believe the Pope in himself to be infallible ? 

( A. This is a Protestant invention: it is no article of the Catholic faith: no 
decision of his can oblige, under pain of heresy, unless it be received and enforced by 
the teaching body ; that is, by the bishops of the Church.' 

About 1869 or 1870 I had a visit from an English clergy- 
man, who, for reasons of health, resided chiefly on the Con- 
tinent, and, mixing much with Roman Catholics, took great 
interest in the controversy which was then agitating their 
Church. I showed him the question and answer in ' Keenan's 
Catechism ' ; and he was so much interested by them, that he 
bought some copies of the book to present to his friends 
abroad. A couple of years later he visited Ireland again, 
and purchased some more copies of ' Keenan ' ; but this 


question and answer had then disappeared. He presented 
me then with the two copies I have here. To all appearance 
they are identical in their contents. From the title-page, as 
it appears on the paper cover of each, the two books appear 
to be both of the twenty-first thousand ; but when we open 
the books, we find them further agreeing in the singular 
feature, that there is another title-page which describes each 
as of the twenty-fourth thousand. But at page 1 1 2 the ques- 
tion and answer which I have quoted are to be found in the 
one book, and are absent from the other. It is, therefore, 
impossible now to maintain that the faith of the Church of 
Rome never changes, when it is notorious that there is 
something which is now part of her faith which those who 
had a good right to know declared was no part of her faith 
twenty years ago. 

I will not delay to speak of many changes in Roman 
teaching consequent on the definition of Papal Infallibility ; 
but you can easily understand that there are a great many 
statements officially made by several Popes which, inasmuch 
as they rested on papal authority alone, learned Roman 
Catholics had formerly thought themselves at liberty to re- 
ject, but which must now be accepted as articles of faith. 
But what I wish now to speak of is, that the forced confes- 
sion of change, at least by way of addition, in Roman teach- 
ing has necessitated a surrender of the principles on which 
her system had formerly been defended ; and this was what 
I had specially in mind when I spoke of the fortress of Infal- 
libility as the last refuge of a beaten army, who, when driven 
from this, must fall into total rout. 

The first revolt against Romanism took place when the 
Bible was made easily accessible. When, by means of trans- 
lations printed in the vulgar languages of Europe, a know- 
ledge of the New Testament became general, men could not 
help taking notice that the Christianity then taught by the 
Church was a very different thing from that which was 
preached by the Apostles, and that a host of doctrines were 
taught as necessary to salvation by the modern Church, of 
which, as far as we could learn from the Bible, the early 


Church knew nothing. Whether the doctrines of Romanism 
can be proved from the Bible is a matter which you can 
judge for yourselves ; but if there is any doubt about it, that 
doubt is removed by watching the next stage of the contro- 
versy. The Roman Catholic advocates ceased to insist that 
the doctrines of the Church could be deduced from Scripture ; 
but the theory of some early heretics, refuted by Irenaeus, was 
revived, namely, that the Bible does not contain the whole 
of God's revelation, and that a body of traditional doctrine 
existed in the Church equally deserving of veneration. 

At this time, however, all parties were agreed that through 
our Lord and His Apostles a revelation unique in the his- 
tory of the world had been made to mankind. All parties 
imagined that it was the truths then made known, neither 
more nor less, that the Church was to preserve and teach. 
All parties agreed that the Holy Scriptures might be im- 
plicitly depended on as an inspired record of these truths. 
The main difference was as to how far the Bible record of 
them could be regarded as complete. Things were taught 
and practised in the Roman Church for which the Bible fur- 
nished no adequate justification ; and the Roman advocates 
insisted that, though the Bible contained truth, it did not 
contain the whole truth, and that the Church was able, by 
her traditions, to supplement the deficiencies of Scripture, 
having in those traditions a secure record of apostolic teach- 
ing on many points on which the Bible contained only 
obscure indications, or even gave no information at all. 

This Roman assertion might be met in two ways. Many, 
probably the majority, of the Protestants refused to listen at 
all to doctrines said to be binding on their faith, and not 
asserted to be taught in Scripture ; and we shall afterwards 
see that they had the sanction of several of the most eminent 
Fathers for thinking that what was asserted without the 
authority of Holy Scripture might be ' despised as freely as 
approved.'* But there were champions of our Church who 
met the Roman case in another way. They declared that, as 
they had been convinced by historical proof that the books 

* Hieron. in Matt, xxiii. 



of the New Testament were written by Apostles or apos- 
tolical men, so they had no objection to examine whether 
similar historic proof could be given of the apostolic origin 
of any of the peculiar doctrines of Romanism. 

Bellarmine, indeed, had given as one of his rules for 
knowing whether or not the proof of a Church doctrine 
rested on tradition,* that if a doctrine taught by the Church 
could not be proved by Scripture, it must be proved by tra- 
dition ; for the Church could not teach wrong ; and so the 
doctrine must be proved either in the one way or the other. 
But it would be too much to expect from us that we should 
admit a failure of Scripture proof in itself to constitute a 
proof by tradition. We have a right to ask, If the Church 
learned that doctrine by tradition, where has that tradition 
been recorded ? Who are the ancient authors that mention 
it ? If the thing has been handed down from the Apostles, 
the Church of the first centuries must have believed or prac- 
tised it : let us inquire, as we should in the case of any other 
historical question, whether she did or not. 

Bishop Jewel, in his celebrated challenge, enumerated 
twenty-seven points of the Roman Catholic teaching of his 
day, and declared that if any learned man of our adversaries, 
or all the learned men that be alive, were able to bring any one 
sufficient sentence out of any old Catholic Doctor or Father, 
or General Council, or Holy Scripture, or any one example 
in the Primitive Church, whereby it might be clearly and 
plainly proved that any of them was taught for the first 600 
years, then he would be content to yield and subscribe. Not, 
of course, that Jewel meant that a single instance of a doc- 
trine being taught during the first six centuries was enough 
to establish its truth, but he meant to express his strong con- 
viction that in the case of the twenty-seven doctrines he 
enumerated no such instance could be produced. 

I do not wonder that many Protestants looked on this 
historic method as a very perilous way of meeting the claims 
of Romanism. In the first place, it deserted the ground of 
Scripture, on which they felt sure of victory, for that of his- 

* De verbo Dei, iv. 9. 


tory, on which success might be doubtful ; and, in the second 
place, it needed no learned apparatus to embark on the Scrip- 
ture controversy. Any intelligent layman might satisfy him- 
self what amount of recognition was given to a doctrine in 
the Bible ; but the battle on the field of history could only be- 
fought by learned men, and would go on out of sight of or- 
dinary members of the Church, who would be quite incom- 
petent to tell which way the victory had gone. 

When two opposing generals meet in battle, and both send 
home bulletins of victory, and Te Deums are sung in churches 
on both sides, we, who sit at home, may find it hard to un- 
derstand which way the battle has gone. But if we look at 
the map, and see where the next battle is fought, and if we 
find that one general is making ' for strategic reasons ' a con- 
stant succession of movements towards the rear, and that he 
ends by completely evacuating the country he at first un- 
dertook to defend, then we may suspect that his glorious 
victories were perhaps not quite so brilliant as he had repre- 
sented them to be. And so, when the Church of England 
champions left the plain ground of Scripture, and proceeded 
to interchange quotations from the Fathers, plain men, out 
of whose sight the battle now went, might be excused for 
apprehension as to the results, themselves being scarcely 
competent to judge of the force of the passages quoted on 
each side. But when they find that the heads of the Roman 
Catholic Church now think it as great a heresy to appeal to 
antiquity, as to appeal to Scripture, they have cause for sur- 
mising which way the victory has gone. 

The first strategic movement towards the rear was the 
doctrine of development, which has seriously modified the 
old theory of tradition. When Dr. Newman became a Roman 
Catholic, it was necessary for him in some way to reconcile 
this step with the proofs he had previously given that cer- 
tain distinctive Romish doctrines were unknown to the early 
Church. The historical arguments he had advanced in his 
Anglican days were incapable of refutation even by himself. 
But it being hopeless to maintain that the present teaching 
of Roman Catholics is identical with the doctrine held in the 


primitive Church, he set himself to show that though not the 
same, it was a great deal better. This is the object of the cele- 
brated Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, which 
he published simultaneously with his submission to the Ro- 
man Church. The theory expounded in it in substance is, 
that Christ had but committed to His Church certain seeds 
and germs of truth, destined afterwards to expand to definite 
forms : consequently, that our Lord did not intend that the 
teaching of His Church should be always the same ; but or- 
dained that it should go on continually improving under the 
guidance of His Holy Spirit. This theory was not altogether 
new. Not to speak of earlier anticipations of it, it had been 
maintained, not many years previously, by the German di- 
vine, Mohler, in his work called Symbolik ; and this mode of 
defending the Roman system had been adopted in the theo- 
logical lectures of Perrone, Professor in the Jesuit College at 
Rome. But Newman's book had the effect of making the 
theory popular to an extent it had never been before, and of 
causing its general adoption by Romish advocates, who are 
now content to exchange tradition, which their predecessors 
had made the basis of their system, for this new foundation 
of development. You will find them now making shameless 
confession of the novelty of articles of their creed, and even 
taunting us Anglicans with the unprogressive character of 
our faith, because we are content to believe as the early 
Church believed, and as our fathers believed before us. 

In a subsequent lecture I mean to discuss this theory of 
development : I only mention it now because the starting of 
this theory exhibits plainly the total rout which the cham- 
pions of the Roman Church experienced in the battle they 
attempted to fight on the field of history. The theory of 
development is, in short, an attempt to enable men, beaten 
off the platform of history, to hang on to it by the eyelids. 
Suppose, for instance, we have made a strong proof that some 
doctrine or practice of modern Romanism was unknown to 
the primitive Church, we might still find it difficult to show 
that this general proposition of ours admitted of absolutely 
no exception. Did no one ever in the first centuries teach or 


practise the thing in dispute ? or, if not absolutely the same 
thing, something like it ? something only to be defended on 
the same principles, or which, if pushed to its logical conse- 
quences, might justify the present state of things ? Then the 
argument is applied, Any practice which was tolerated in the 
first age of the Church cannot be absolutely wrong, and 
though it may have been in those days exceptional, still the 
Church may, for reason that seems to her good, make it her 
general rule now. And a doctrinal principle once acknow- 
ledged, though it may be without its full import being known, 
must now be accepted with all the logical consequences that 
can be shown to be involved in it. 

Thus, to take an example of a practice : it is not denied 
that the refusal of the cup to the laity is absolutely opposed 
to the custom of the Church for centuries ; but it is thought to 
be sufficient justification of Roman usage if we are unable to 
prove that in the early ages absolutely no such thing ever 
occurred as communion in one element without the other. 
Or, to take an example of a doctrine, we inquire whether the 
Church of the first three centuries thought it necessary to 
seek for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, or thought it 
right to pay her the extravagant honours which Roman 
Catholics now have no scruple in bestowing on her. There 
is no pretence of answering these questions in the affirma- 
tive. It is thought reply enough to ask in return, Did not 
the ancient Church teach the fact of the intimate relation 
that existed between the blessed Virgin and the human 
nature of our Lord r Surely yes, we confess, we acknow- 
ledge that ourselves. Then, it is urged, the later Church is 
entitled to draw out by legitimate inference all that it can 
discover as to the privileges which that intimate relation 
must needs have conferred, even though the earlier Church 
had been blind to them. 

When Dr. Newman's book appeared, I looked with much 
curiosity to see whether the heads of the Church to which he 
was joining himself would accept the defence made by their 
new convert, the book having been written before he had 
yet joined them. For, however great the ingenuity of this 


defence, and whatever important elements of truth it might 
contain, it seemed to be plainly a complete abandonment of 
the old traditional theory of the advocates of Rome. 

The old theory was that the teaching of the Church had 
never varied. Scripture proof of the identity of her teaching 
in all ages might fail ; but tradition could not fail to prove 
that what the Church teaches now she had also taught from 
the beginning. Thus, for example, the Council of Trent, 
in the celebrated decree passed in its fourth Session, in 
which it laid the foundation of its whole method of pro- 
ceeding, clearly taught that all saving truth and moral 
discipline had been delivered either by the mouth of Christ 
Himself, or by His inspired Apostles, and had since been 
handed down either in the Scriptures, or in continuous 
unwritten tradition ; and the Council, in particular decrees 
passed subsequently, claimed for its teaching to have been 
what the Church had always taught.* No phrase has been 
more often on the lips of Roman controversialists than that 
which described the faith of the Church as what was held 
' everywhere, always, and by all.'f Bishop Milner, in his 
well-known work, of which I shall have more to say in an- 
other lecture, The End of Religious Controversy, writes : ' It is 
a fundamental maxim never to admit any tenet but such as 
is believed by all the bishops, and was believed by their 
predecessors up to the Apostles themselves.' * The constant 
language of the Church is nil innovetur, nil nisi quod tra- 
ditum est. Such and such is the sense of Scripture, such and 
such is the doctrine of her predecessors, the Pastors of the 
Church, since the time of the Apostles.' Dr. Wiseman said : 
* We believe that no new doctrine can be introduced into the 
Church, but that every doctrine which we hold has existed 
and been taught in it ever since the time of the Apostles, 
having been handed down by them to their successors.^ 

It is worth while to call attention to another point in the 

* So for example in the decree concerning matrimony (Sess. xxiv.), ' Sancti patres. 
nostri, et concilia, et universalis ecclesise traditio semper docuerunt.' 
t Vincent. Lirin. Commonitorium, c. 3. 
J Wiseman, Moorfield Lectures, i. 60. London : 1847. 


decree of the Council of Trent to which I referred just now 
namely, the value it attached to the consent of the Fathers as 
a decisive authority in the interpretation of Scripture. The 
veneration for the Fathers so solemnly expressed at Trent 
has been handed down as an essential part of popular Ro- 
manism. Let the most unlearned Romanist and an equally 
unlearned Protestant get into a discussion, and let the 
Fathers be mentioned, and you may probably hear their 
authority treated with contempt by the Protestant, but as- 
suredly it will be treated as decisive by the Romanist. Now, 
this making the authority of the Fathers the rule and mea- 
sure of our judgment is absolutely inconsistent with the 
theory of Development. In every progressive science the 
latest authority is the best. Take mathematics, which is in 
its nature as immutable as any theory can represent theology 
to be, and in which what has once been proved to be true 
can never afterwards come into question ; yet even there the 
older authors are only looked into as a matter of curiosity, to 
illustrate the history of the progress of the science, but have 
no weight as authorities. We study the science from modern 
books, which contain everything of value that the older 
writers discovered possibly may correct some mistakes of 
theirs, but certainly will contain much of which they were 
ignorant. And, in like manner, anyone who holds the theory 
of Development ought, in consistency, to put the writings of 
the Fathers on the shelf as antiquated and obsolete. Their 
teaching, judged by the standard of the present day, must 
certainly be defective, and might even be erroneous. In 
point of fact, there is scarcely one of the Fathers who does 
not occasionally come into collision with modern Roman 
teaching, and for whom it is not necessary to find apologies. 
A good deal of controversial triumph took place when, by 
the publication of certain expurgatorial indices, it was brought 
to light that the Roman authorities regarded certain genuine 
dicta of early Fathers as erroneous, and as needing correction. 
But if the Development theory be true, it is only proper that 
the inaccuracies of the time when Church teaching was imma- 
ture should be corrected by the light of fuller knowledge. It 




follows that the traditional veneration of the Fathers in the 
Roman Church is a witness of the novelty of the theory of 

But, more than a century before Dr. Newman's time, the 
theory of Development had played its part in the Roman 
Catholic controversy ; only then it was the Protestant com- 
batant who brought that theory forward, and the Roman 
Catholic who repudiated it. I shall have occasion in another 
lecture to speak of the controversial work published by 
Bossuet, who was accounted the most formidable champion 
of the Church of Rome towards the end of the seventeenth 
century. The thesis of his book called History of the Varia- 
tions of the Protestant Churches was that the doctrine of the 
true Church is always the same, whereas Protestants are at 
variance with each other and with themselves. Bossuet was 
replied to by a Calvinist minister named Jurieu. The line 
Jurieu took was to dispute the assertion that the doctrine of 
the true Church is always the same. He maintained the 
doctrine of Development in its full extent, asserting that the 
truth of God was only known by instalments (par parcelles], 
that the theology of the Fathers was imperfect and fluc- 
tuating, and that Christian theology has been constantly 
going on towards perfection. He illustrated his theory by 
examples of important doctrines, concerning which he al- 
leged the teaching of the early Church to have been defective 
or uncertain, of which it is enough here to quote that he 
declared that the mystery of the Trinity, though of the last 
importance, and essential to Christianity, remained, 'as 
everyone knows,' undeveloped (informe] down to the first 
Council of Nicaea, and even down to that of Constantinople. 
Bossuet, in replying, had the embarrassment, if he felt it as 
such, that a learned divine of his own Church and nation the 
Jesuit Petau, whose name is better known under its Latinized 
form, Petavius had, in his zeal to make Church authority the 
basis of all religious knowledge, made very similar assertions 
concerning the immaturity of the teaching of the early 
Fathers. Plainly, if Jurieu could establish his case, the 
whole foundation of Bossuet's great controversial work would 


be swept away. It would be impossible to taunt Protestants 
because their teaching had not been always the same, if it 
must be confessed that the same thing must be said of the 
Church in every age. But it would be unjust to imagine that 
Bossuet was actuated merely by controversial ardour in the 
indignant and passionate outcry which he raised against 
Jurieu's theory, or to doubt that that theory was deeply 
painful and shocking to him on account of its aspersion on 
the faith of the early Church. He declared the statement 
that the mystery of the Trinity remained undeveloped down 
to the Council of Nicsea to be a horrible libel [fletrissiire] on 
Christianity, to be language which could only have been 
expected from the mouth of a Socinian. He appealed to the 
contemporary work of our own divine, Bishop Bull (Defensio 
Fidei Nicenae\ in which the doctrine of Nicsea was estab- 
lished by the testimony of ante-Nicene Fathers, a work for 
which Bossuet had communicated the thanks of himself and 
his clergy. He declared it to be the greatest of errors to 
imagine that the faith of the Church only developed itself as 
heresies arose, and as she made explicit decisions concerning 
them. And he reiterated his own thesis, that the faith of the 
Church, as being a Divine work, had its perfection from the 
first, and had never varied ; and that the Church never pro- 
nounced any judgments, except by way of propounding the 
faith of the past.* The name of Bossuet is, for reasons of 
which I shall speak on another day, not popular with the 
Ultramontane party now dominant in the Roman Church ; 
but there is no doubt that, in his day, he was not only the 
accredited champion of that Church, but the most successful 
in gaining converts from Protestantism. It seems, then, a very 
serious matter if the leading authorities in the Roman Church 
have now to own that, in the main point at issue between 
Bossuet and Jurieu, the Calvinist minister was in the right, 
and their own champion in the wrong. 

Now, in Newman's Essay on Development, everything that 
had been said by Jurieu or by Petavius as to the immaturity 

* The statements in the text are taken from Bossuet' s Premier avertissement aux 

D 2 



of the teaching of the early. Fathers is said again, and said 
more strongly. He begins by owning the unserviceableness 
of St. Vincent's maxim: Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab 
omnibus.' He confesses that it is impossible by means of 
that maxim (unless, indeed, a very forced interpretation be 
put upon it) to establish the articles of Pope Pius's creed ; in 
other words, impossible to show that these articles were any 
part of the faith of the early Church. But he urges that the 
same thing may be said of the Athanasian Creed, and he 
proceeds to try to pick holes in the proofs Bishop Bull had 
given of the orthodoxy of the ante-Nicene Fathers. So he 
declares that we need some new hypothesis for the defence of 
the Athanasian Creed, for which purpose he offers his theory 
of Development ; and then he says that we must not com- 
plain if the same defence proves to be equally good for the 
creed of Pope Pius. 

I can remember my own astonishment at this line of de- 
fence, and my wonder how it would be accepted by Roman 
Catholic authorities. There appeared to be signs that it 
would be received with disfavour ; for Brownson's Quarterly 
Review y the leading organ of American Romanism, published 
a series of articles severely criticizing the book, as abandon- 
ing the ground on which Roman doctrine had previously 
been defended, giving up, as it did, the principles that the 
Church taught nothing but what had been revealed, and that 
the revelation committed to the Church had been perfect 
from the first. 

But when I was simple enough to expect that Roman 
Catholic divines generally would thus repudiate a work in- 
consistent with what their teachers had constantly main- 
tained, I failed to notice what a temptation Newman offered 
by freeing the defenders of Romanism at once from a multi- 
tude of controversies in which they felt they were getting the 
worst. He evacuated all the difficult posts which they had 
been struggling to maintain, and promised that the captors 
should gain nothing by taking them, for that he had built 
inside them an impregnable wall of defence. Just imagine 
what a comfort it must have been to a poor Roman Catholic 


divine who had been making a despairing struggle to refute, 
let us say, the Protestant assertion that the Church of the 
first three centuries knew nothing of the Invocation of the 
Blessed Virgin, to be told that he need have no scruple in 
granting all that his opponents had asserted. Dr. Newman 
himself, disclaiming the doctrine that the Invocation of the 
Virgin is necessary to salvation, says (Letter to Pusey, p. 1 1 1) : 
' If it were so, there would be grave reasons for doubting of 
the salvation of St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius, or of the 
primitive martyrs. Nay, I should like to know whether St. 
Augustine, in all his voluminous writings, invokes her once/ 
But he holds (p. 63) that, though ' we have no proof that 
Athanasius himself had any special devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin,' yet, by teaching the doctrine of our Lord's Incarna- 
tion, * he laid the foundations on which that devotion was to 

Similarly, if perplexed by troublesome proofs that early 
Fathers were ignorant of the doctrine of purgatorial fire, or of 
the religious use of images, or of the supremacy of the Pope, 
what a comfort to be told, You may safely answer, * Quite 
true : these doctrines had not been revealed to the conscious- 
ness of the Church of that age' ; nay, to be told that he need 
not quarrel with Arian representations of the doctrine of the 
ante-Nicene Fathers, but might say, * Quite true : the Church 
did not learn to speak accurately on this subject until after 
the Council of Nicaea.' The enlightened Roman Catholic of 
the new school may take the same view that a dispassionate 
infidel might have taken about the controversy which An- 
glicans and old-school Roman Catholics had been waging as 
to which of them held the doctrines originally revealed by 
Christ and taught by His Apostles. An infidel might say, 
' Neither of you. The doctrines taught by Jesus of Nazareth 
have been since incorporated with a number of elements 
derived from different sources, and the Christianity of the 
first century is not like what is taught by anyone in the 

Thus, you will see that the doctrine of Development con- 
cedes not only all that a Protestant, but even all that an 


infidel might ask. I purpose, in a subsequent lecture, to say 
something more in reference to this doctrine. At present 
my main object has been to show the primary importance of 
the question of Infallibility, which has really swallowed up 
all other controversies. It is inevitable, indeed, that other 
branches of the controversy should have a tendency to die 
out when a candid Roman Catholic is forced to concede 
what his opponents assert. An unlearned Protestant per- 
ceives that the doctrine of Rome is not the doctrine of the 
Bible. A learned Protestant adds that neither is it the doc- 
trine of the primitive Church. These assertions are no longer 
denied, as in former days. Putting the concessions made us 
at the lowest, it is at least owned that the doctrine of Rome 
is as unlike that of early times as an oak is unlike an acorn, 
or a butterfly unlike a caterpillar. The unlikeness is ad- 
mitted : and the only question remaining is whether that 
unlikeness is absolutely inconsistent with substantial iden- 
tity. In other words, it is owned that there has been a 
change, and the question is whether we are to call it develop- 
ment or corruption. 

But you must carefully observe that the doctrine of Deve- 
lopment would be fatal to the Roman Catholic cause if sepa- 
rated from the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Church. 
Without the latter doctrine the former, as I have already 
pointed out, leads to Protestantism or to infidelity rather than 
Romanism. In fact, the motto of the doctrine of Development 
is Trcm'pwv fjity' ajuetvoi/te cv^d/itfl' EIVCU * We are much wiser 
men than our fathers.' Well, surely, in many respects that is 
the case. Why, then, may not Protestants claim a right to 
revise erroneous decisions made in days when learning was 
asleep and science did not exist ? Submission to the supre- 
macy of Rome in Europe was mainly brought about by the 
circulation of documents which no one now pretends to be 
genuine. Why should not an age learned enough to detect 
these forgeries reject also the doctrine which was founded on 
them ? Or, take another Roman doctrine, that of Transub- 
stantiation. It was built up in the middle ages, and founded 
on a scholastic theory of substance and accidents which 


modern philosophy rejects. Why is the building to remain, 
when its foundation is discovered to be rotten ? So much 
for the doctrine of Development in Protestant hands ; while, 
in infidel, it leads to the improving away of religion alto- 
gether. We, being wiser men than our fathers, can dispense 
with superstitions that amused them. 

And against Protestants, at least, Romanists gain nothing 
by appealing to God's promises to be ever with His Church, 
and to give His Spirit to guide it into truth, and thence 
inferring that such as His Church is, such her Founder in- 
tended it to become. But this principle, ' Whatever is is 
right,' has to encounter the difficulty that Protestantism is : 
Why should not it be right r Was it only in Rome that 
Christianity was to develop itself? Was it not also to do so 
in Germany and England r Has God's Holy Spirit only a 
local operation, and is it to be supposed that He had no 
influence in bringing about the form in which Christ's re- 
ligion has shaped itself here r May it not be supposed, for 
example, that He wisely ordained that the constitution of 
His Church should receive modifications to adapt it to the 
changing exigencies of society ; that, in times when no 
form of government but monarchy was to be seen anywhere, 
it was necessary, if His Church was to make head success- 
fully against the prevalent reign of brute force, that all its 
powers should be concentrated in a single hand; but that 
when, with the general spread of knowledge, men refused to 
give unreasoning submission to authority, and claimed the 
right to exercise some judgment of their own in the conduct 
of their affairs, the constitution of the Church needed to be 
altered in order to bring it into harmony with the political 
structure of modern society ? 

The fact is, that the doctrine of Development has to en- 
counter a great historical difficulty, which it can only remove 
by an enormous assumption. The doctrine is, that Christ's 
original revelation contained seeds and germs of truths 
destined, under the Divine guidance, to expand to a cer- 
tain definite form. If this be true, that expansion would 
take place wherever these germs were planted. It does not 


depend on where a tree is planted, whether it springs up a 
cedar or a bramble-bush, or whether it brings forth figs or 
grapes. How is it, then, that all over the East that doctrine 
which is the cardinal one of modern Romanism the neces- 
sity of union with the Chair of Peter never made its appear- 
ance ; nay, that the direct opposite was held ? And what 
reason can be given for excluding from the list of divinely- 
intended developments those which we Protestants have 
ma( j e a s, for instance, the importance which we attach to 
the exercise of private judgment, to the individual study of 
Holy Scripture, to the right of each to approach the Throne 
of Grace without any human mediator ? May it not be said 
that it was the vitality which the teaching of the Holy Spirit 
gave to the last doctrine, which has rescued Christianity from 
assuming the form of some heathen superstitions, in which a 
certain caste of men was imagined to understand the art of 
conciliating the favour of the gods ; toj whose mediation, 
therefore, the ordinary worshipper was to address himself, 
religion being a matter which only his priests understood, 
and which required no intellectual co-operation of his own ? 

If we compare Protestant with Roman Catholic develop- 
ments, we find, further, that Protestant developments are of 
such a nature as to be made only in the fulness of time, 
as the human intellect developed itself, and as science and 
learning grew. There is no shame in a Church acknowledg- 
ing herself to grow wiser with years, in such matters as these. 
If the Church of Rome, for instance, were now wise enough 
to expel the text of the Three heavenly Witnesses from her 
Vulgate, she could say in her defence that the science of 
Biblical criticism was more advanced now than in the days 
when this text was admitted. But, by what means are we to 
suppose that the Roman Church acquired a knowledge of 
historical facts concerning which there is no historical tradi- 
tion ? How has she come to be wiser now than the Church 
of former ages, concerning the way in which the Blessed 
Virgin was conceived 1 900 years ago, or concerning the re- 
moval of her body to heaven ? If there had been any histori- 
cal tradition on these subjects, the Church would always 


have known it. And is it likely that God has interfered to 
make any special revelation on these subjects now, if He 
saw there was no inconvenience in leaving His Church for 
so many centuries without authentic information on such 
points ? 

However, without further arguing the point whether Pro- 
testant or Roman developments are the best, it is evident 
that the doctrine of Development is a many-edged weapon. 
There are Eastern developments and Western ones, Protestant 
and Romish, even infidel developments : which is the right 
one ? The Romanist answers, The Church of Rome is infal- 
lible; she alone has been commissioned to develop doctrine 
the right way ; all other developments are wrong. Let the 
Romanist prove that, and he may use the doctrine of De- 
velopment, if he then cares to do so ; but it is quite plain 
that without the doctrine of Roman Infallibility, the doc- 
trine of Development is perfectly useless to a Romish 

But with the doctrine of Infallibility once proved, or 
supposed to be so, the doctrine of Development becomes 
needless ; and Cardinal Manning, in particular, has quite 
got beyond it. In my own time the aspect of Romanism 
has changed so rapidly that this theory of Development, so 
fashionable thirty years ago, has now dropped into the back- 
ground. It was wanted while the Roman Catholic divines 
were attempting to make some kind of battle on the field of 
history. In those days it was still attempted to be maintained 
that the teaching of the Church of the present day agrees with 
that of the Church of early times : not indeed in form, but at 
least in suchwise that the former contains the germ of the 
latter. Now, the idea of testing the teaching of the Church of 
the present day, by comparison either with Scripture or an- 
tiquity, is completely abandoned. Cardinal Manning has 
profited by Plutarch's story, that when Pericles was puzzling 
himself what account of his expenditure he should give the 
Athenian people, he got the advice from Alcibiades that it 
would be wiser of him to study how he could avoid giving any 
account at all. The most thoroughgoing and most ignorant 


Protestant cannot show greater indifference to the opinions 
of the Fathers than does Cardinal Manning. If Dr. Manning 
were asked whether St. Cyprian held the doctrine of the 
Pope's Supremacy, he might answer much in the same way 
that, as the story goes, Mr. Spurgeon answered, when asked 
whether* St. Cyprian held the doctrine of Justification by 
Faith. Either might say, * I don't know, and I don't much 
care ; but, for his own sake, I hope he did ; for if he didn't, 
so much the worse for him.' According to Manning, it is a 
matter of unimportance how the Church is to be reconciled 
with Scripture or antiquity, when once you understand that 
the Church is the living voice of the same Being who in- 
spired Scripture, and who taught the ancient Church. To 
look for one's creed in Scripture and antiquity is, to Manning, 
as great a heresy as to look for it in Scripture alone. Either 
course makes the individual the judge or critic of Revelation. 
The appeal to antiquity, says Manning, is both a treason and 
a heresy. It is a treason, because it rejects the Divine voice 
of the Church at this hour; and a heresy, because it denies 
that voice to be divine.* According to Manning's theory, it 
is our duty to accept implicitly whatever the present Church 
teaches, and to be sure that, however opposed this may seem 
to what we find in Scripture or antiquity, we need not trouble 
ourselves about the matter, and that the opposition can only 
be apparent. According to this theory, then, all the prero- 
gatives of Scripture are annulled : the dicta of Pius IX. and 
Leo XIII. are as truly inspired by God's Spirit, and are to 
be received with as much reverence, as the utterances of 
Peter and Paul. Thus the function of the Church, in the 
latest form of Romanism, is made to be not so much to guard 
and hand down securely an original revelation as to be a 
perpetual organ for making new revelations. Whenever a 
new controversy arises, the Pope is divinely inspired to dis- 
cern its true solution, and to pronounce which of the parties 
is in the right, and how far. In this way Manning's party 
have now got beyond the old Ultramontane doctrine of the 

* Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, p. 226 : see also pp. 28, 203. 


inerrancy of the Pope. This doctrine has been changed into 
that of his divine perpetual inspiration, giving him a power 
of disclosing new truths as infallibly as Peter and Paul. 
Dr. Pusey called this theory a kind of Llamaism, implying, 
as it does, a kind of hypostatic union of the Holy Ghost with 
each successive Pope. 

I think I have made good my assertion, that the present 
Roman Catholic position is one taken up in desperation by 
men who have been driven from every other. And I will 
add that they have taken it up with immense loss ; for the 
few whom they have gained from us do not make up for 
the larger numbers, both in our communion and their own r 
whom they have driven into infidelity. In their assaults on 
Protestantism they have freely made use of infidel arguments. 
Their method has been that of some so-called Professors of 
biology : first to bewilder and stupefy their patients, that they 
may be ready to believe anything, and do anything, their 
mesmerizer tells them. And it has happened that men who 
have been thus driven to the verge of infidelity, when they 
saw that abyss yawning before them, have eagerly clutched 
at the only hand which they believed had power to save them 
from it. But for one convert made in this way, many have 
been spoiled in the making; many, when offered the choice 
Ultramontanism or Infidelity have taken the latter alterna- 
tive. It is a very short way from the doctrine that Pius IX. 
and Leo XIII. were as much inspired as Peter and Paul, to 
the doctrine that Peter and Paul were no more inspired than 
Pius or Leo. 

According to the theory of our Church, the appearance of 
Christ, and the founding of His Church, of which He made 
the Apostles the first earthly heads, were unique events in 
the world's history. No argument can be drawn from the 
uniformity of nature against the possibility that miracles 
may have attended these events, because the uniformity of 
nature only assures us that in like circumstances like results 
will take place; and here the circumstances are asserted to be 
wholly unlike what has occurred at any other time. But the 
case is otherwise if it is implicitly denied that there was- 



anything exceptional in the mission of the Apostles. If their 
divine commission was the same in kind as that which the 
Pope enjoys now, we must measure what is told of them by 
what our experience tells us of the Pope now. And, con- 
versely, if we believe that they really did authenticate the 
message which they delivered, by exhibitions of miraculous 
power, we have a right to demand that the Pope, if he claims 
to be the organ of divine revelations, as they were, should 
heal the sick, and raise the dead, as they did. 

It would be too late to-day to commence the discussion 
of the question of the Infallibility of the Church. I content 
myself for to-day with having shown that this is, in fact, the 
pivot of the whole controversy, on which everything turns, 
defeat on which would make all other victories useless ; and, 
conversely, that a man who ceases to hold it ceases to be 
really a Roman Catholic. 

In conclusion, I have to warn you that, although the 
reasons I have given justify me in devoting this Term's 
Lectures to the question of Infallibility, to the exclusion 
of several important subjects, yet you cannot safely neglect 
these other subjects ; for, though the controversy has been 
simplified for the Roman Catholic, it is not so for you. The 
Romish champions, beaten out of the open field, have shut 
themselves up in this fortress of Infallibility, where, as long 
as their citadel remains untaken, they can defy all assaults. 
Confute them by any arguments you please, and they can 
still reply, ' The Church has said otherwise,' and there is an 
end of the matter. But, though the Roman Catholic has 
thus shut himself up in a fortress, he can at any moment 
sally out on you, if he thinks he can do it with success. He 
will for the moment waive the question whether the Pope 
could decide wrongly, and will undertake to show that deci- 
sions of his which had been controverted were, in point of 
fact, right. Every victory a Roman Catholic can gain over 
you on particular points of controversy strengthens his faith 
in the attribute of Infallibility, his Church's claim to which 
seems to be verified by fact. On the other hand, if he is 
beaten back into his fortress every sally he makes, if he 


finds it a task of ever-increasing difficulty to reconcile with 
Scripture and with history the actual decisions of this guide 
who is warranted never to go wrong, so heavy a strain is 
put on his faith in the reality of this gift, that this faith is 
not unlikely to give way. The almost invariable history of 
conversions or re-conversions from Romanism is that doubt 
has arisen as to the truth of some particular point of Roman 
Catholic doctrine (very often not by any means the most im- 
portant point), and then, as the evidence of the falsity of this 
particular doctrine becomes more and more clear, the inquirer 
goes on to examine whether the arguments for Infallibility 
are strong enough to bear the strain laid on them. In fact, 
a tract on any point of Roman teaching may be regarded as 
an argument on the question of Infallibility. Clearly, there 
could be no more decisive proof that the Church of Rome can 
err, than if you could show that she has erred. If a Roman 
Catholic will discuss any point of doctrine with you, he is 
really putting the Infallibility of his Church on its trial. 
And, consequently, a thoroughgoing Infallibilist, like Man- 
ning, is consistently a foe to all candid historical investiga- 
tion, as being really irreconcileable with faith in the Church's 



ON the last day I dwelt sufficiently on the vital importance 
in the Roman Catholic controversy of the question of 
the Infallibility of the Church. To-day it is our business to 
examine what proof of that doctrine can be offered. But 
there is a preliminary question whether it is in the nature of 
things possible that any proof can be given. 

The craving for an infallible guide arises from men's 
consciousness of the weakness of their understanding. In 
temporal matters we are constrained to act on our own judg- 
ment. When we have important decisions to make, we often 
feel ourselves in great doubt and perplexity, and sometimes 
the decision we ultimately make turns out to be wrong, and 
we have to pay the penalty in loss or other suffering. A loss, 
however, affecting only our temporal interests may be borne ; 
but it seems intolerable to men that, when their eternal in- 
terests are at stake, any doubt or uncertainty should attend 
their decisions, and they look out for some guide who may 
be able to tell them, with infallible certainty, which is the 
right way. And yet it is easy to show that it is in the nature 
of things impossible to give men absolute security against 
rror in any other way than by their being themselves made 
infallible ; and I shall hereafter show you that when men 
profess faith in the Church's infallibility, they are, in real 
truth, professing faith in their own. 

It is common with Roman Catholics to speak as if the 
use of private judgment and the infallibility of the Church 
were things opposed to each other. They are fond of con- 
trasting the peace, and certainty, and assurance of him whose 


faith rests on the rock of an infallible Church, with the un- 
certainty of him whose belief rests only on the shifting sands 
of his own fallible judgment. But it must be remembered 
that our belief must, in the end, rest on an act of our own 
judgment, and can never attain any higher certainty than 
whatever that may be able to give us. We may talk about 
the right of private judgment, or the duty of private judg- 
ment, but a more important thing to insist on is the necessity 
of private judgment. We have the choice whether we shall 
-exercise our private judgment in one act or in a great many ; 
but exercise it in one way or another we must. We may 
-either apply our private judgment separately to the different 
questions in controversy Purgatory, Transubstantiation, In- 
vocation of Saints, and so forth and come to our own con- 
clusion on each ; or we may apply our private judgment to 
the question whether the Church of Rome is infallible, and, 
if we decide that it is, take all our religious opinions thence- 
forward on trust from her. But it is clear that our certainty 
that any of the things she teaches us is right cannot be 
greater than whatever certainty we have that our private 
judgment has decided the question rightly whether we ought 
to submit unreservedly to her teaching ; and it will appear, 
before we have done, that this is at least as difficult a 
question as any in the controversy. 

That submission to the Church of Rome rests ultimately 
on an act of private judgment is unmistakeably evident, 
when a Romanist tries (as he has no scruple in doing) to make 
a convert of you or any other member of our Church. What 
does he then ask you to do but to decide that the religion of 
your fathers is wrong ; that the teachers and instructors of 
your childhood were all wrong ; that the clergy to whom you 
have looked up as best able to guide you are all mistaken, 
and have been leading you in a way which must end in your 
eternal destruction ? Well, if you come to the conclusion to 
reject all the authority which you have reverenced from your 
childhood, is not that a most audacious exercise of private 
judgment ? But suppose you come to the opposite conclu- 
sion, and decide on staying where you were, would not a 


Romanist have a right to laugh at you, if you said that you 
were not using your private judgment then ; that to change 
one's religion indeed is an act of private judgment, but that 
one who continues in his father's religion is subject to none 
of the risks to which every exercise of private judgment is 
liable ? Well, it is absurd to imagine that logic has one rule 
for Roman Catholics and another for us ; that it would be 
an exercise of private judgment in them to change their 
religion, but none if they continue in what their religious 
teachers have told them. An act of our judgment must be 
the ultimate foundation of all our beliefs. 

The case is the same as if an inexperienced woman now 
finds herself the inheritor of a landed estate. She may feel 
herself quite incompetent to decide on all the questions of deal- 
ing with tenants that must now arise, and she may very wisely 
entrust the management of her affairs to an agent or attorney. 
But it would be a delusion to imagine that she thereby es- 
capes risk or responsibility. She has to exercise her judg- 
ment in the choice of an agent, and according as she has 
made that decision wisely or not, her affairs prosper, or the 
reverse. A blind man does well in getting someone to lead 
him ; but if he chooses a blind man to lead him, both fall 
into the ditch. And so in matters of religion. The most 
irreligious man, who resolves to neglect the whole subject, 
and never trouble his head about any religious question, 
surely by that resolve, whether formally or informally made, 
incurs a most serious responsibility. In like manner, neither 
does the man escape responsibility who equally puts the con- 
sideration of religious problems from his mind, because he is 
content to surrender his judgment to the guidance of some- 
one else whom he believes to be wiser than himself. I do 
not see how a Roman Catholic advocate can help yielding 
the point that a member of his Church does, in truth, exer- 
cise private judgment, once for all, in his decision to submit 
to the teaching of the Church. 

But he might probably argue that the illustration I have 
used shows that this is the very wisest way to exercise pri- 
vate judgment. The lady of my illustration surely does the 


wisest thing, if she attempts no other way of dealing with 
her estate, than, after taking the best advice she can get, en- 
trusting herself to a good agent. Do we not in every depart- 
ment of conduct submit our own judgment to that of skilled 
persons r If we are sick, or if a member of our family is so, 
we do not try to study the case out of medical books ; we 
call in a physician of repute, and submit implicitly to his 
directions. If we go to sea, we leave the navigation of the 
vessel in the hands of the captain. If we have a difficult 
lawsuit, we do not try to conduct it ourselves ; we take legal 
advice, and permit our adviser to determine our course of 
action. Why should we think that the problems of religion 
are so simple, that skilled and unskilled persons are on a 
par, and that this is the only subject in the world in which 
a man is to be ashamed to submit his judgment to that of 
those who are wiser than himself? 

This is by no means an uncommon line of argument 
for a Roman Catholic advocate to use ; but if he does, it 
shows that he does not at all understand the nature of the 
claim to infallibility made on behalf of his Church, of which 
claim this argument is, in real truth, entirely subversive. 
For it would be absurd misrepresentation to suggest that 
any of us who insists on the necessity of private judgment 
thinks it a matter of indifference whether a man uses his 
judgment rightly. On the contrary, we think it every man's 
duty, who has to make a decision, to use every means in his 
power to guide his judgment rightly. Not the least of these 
means is the instruction and advice of people better informed 
than ourselves. I do not suppose that any different rule in 
this respect prevails in matters of religion and in other 
matters ; or that theology is the only science in the world 
that can be known by the light of nature, and in which a 
man, who has given no thought to the subject, stands on a 
level with one who has. The illustrations we have used, then, 
justify a clergyman in claiming deference for his opinion on 
theological subjects from a layman, just so far, and no more, 
as he has given more and more prayerful study to those 
subjects than the layman has. It is just so in other cases. 



Why do we defer to the opinion of a barrister in matters of 
law, and to that of a physician in questions of medicine ? 
Not because of their official position, but because of their 
superior acquaintance with the subject. We do not imagine 
that an idle young man, who has eaten his dinners, and got 
called to the Bar, becomes, by reason of his new dignity, 
qualified to conduct an important lawsuit, or that we may 
not, without breach of modesty, prefer our own interpreta- 
tion of an Act of Parliament to his. And so if you give no 
heed to theological study, the mere fact of your ordination 
will not entitle you to claim deference for your opinion from 
members of your congregation, among whom you may easily 
find some better informed than yourself. 

On what grounds, then, do those who insist on the in- 
fallibility of the Church of Rome claim deference for the 
authority of the Pope ? Is it on the ground on which the 
illustrations we have used show that deference may rightly 
be claimed, namely, that superior knowledge which is the 
natural result of greater learning and deeper study ? Clearly 
no such thing. The deference claimed is alleged to be due 
to the Pope's official position solely, and is demanded from 
the most learned and the most ignorant of his subjects 
equally. Now, on the principle that a man is likely to know 
more of a subject the more he has studied it, which of the 
two had a right to claim that his judgment deserved to be 
received with respect von Dollinger, when he said that 
the doctrine of the Pope's personal infallibility was a mere 
novelty, unknown to the Church of former times ; or Pius IX., 
when he declared that the Church had always held it ? 
The one might be considered as entitled to speak on Church 
history with the authority of an expert ; the other was an 
Italian ecclesiastic, of no reputation for learning, to whose 
opinion, on a question of Church history, if it were not 
for his official position, no one would dream of paying the 
slightest attention. You see, then, that the illustrations 
which have been appealed to are utterly destructive of the 
Papal claims. In truth, the ultra-Protestants and the ultra- 
Papists are in complete agreement in their contempt for 


theological and ecclesiastical learning, and in their re- 
sistance to that claim to deference for the opinion of the 
clergy, which is made precisely so far, and no more, as by 
diligent and prayerful study the clergy have learned to know 
more than those who are asked to defer to them. In the 
Roman Catholic Church, as much as in the wildest Protes- 
tant sect, learning must give way to ignorance and prejudice. 
Let a theological opinion commend itself to the superstitious 
and ignorant of the people ; let the practices founded on it 
become prevalent ; then let the Pope, who may be quite as 
superstitious and ignorant himself, give formal expression to 
it, and the learned have only the humiliating choice whether 
they will be turned out like von Dollinger, or give an amazed 
and reluctant assent, like Cardinal Newman. 

I must not part with this illustration without pointing out 
that the kind of deference to his authority which the most 
learned divine may claim is of a different nature from that 
which the captain of a ship may demand from his passengers, 
or a physician from his patients. The passengers do not go 
into a ship to learn navigation, but to be carried to their 
journey's end the quickest way : a physician's patients want 
to be cured of their disease, and not to be taught medical 
science. If in the Christian, as in many heathen systems, 
the art of propitiating the divinities was a special craft known 
to the priesthood alone, then the analogy would subsist, and 
we ought to trouble ourselves no more about the secrets of 
the art by which the priesthood gain for us the Divine favour, 
than a passenger on shipboard troubles himself about lunar 
observations and the nautical almanac. But the promise to 
Christ's Church was, 'All thy people shall be taught of God.' 
In the Christian system religious knowledge is not the secret 
of one profession, but the privilege and the duty of all the 
people ; and the duty of the clergy is to teach those com- 
mitted to their care. It follows at once that the relation 
between them and their flocks is not that between a phy- 
sician and his patients, but rather that between the phy- 
sician and the class of students to whom he is teaching 
medical science. From the members of such a class he is 

E 2 


entitled to the deference to which his superior knowledge 
gives him a right. His students would make no progress 
if they were indocile to their instructor, if they were captious 
and conceited ; full of the belief that they had already know- 
ledge enough, and that the old woman's remedies which their 
grandmothers or aunts had taught them could not be im- 
proved on by the highest medical science. And yet the in- 
structor must be a bad one, or his pupils of mean capacity, 
if they do not arrive at a point when their beliefs rest on a 
better foundation than their teacher's word ; when they are 
able to verify for themselves the things which they at first 
accepted from him with meekness and docility ; when they 
feel that they may, without breach of modesty, criticize what 
he has told them, and perhaps improve on it. 

I have thought it important, when speaking about private 
judgment, to make it plain that we do not recommend rash 
judgment, or independence of the teaching of others, or ex- 
clude deference to the authority of persons better informed 
than ourselves, or the use of any of the means which prudent 
persons employ in order to guide their judgment rightly. 

But I must bring you back to the point with which I com- 
menced, namely, that it is absurd for Roman Catholics to 
disparage private judgment, or make light of the kind of 
certainty we can obtain by its means, since their belief, as 
well as ours, must ultimately rest on an act of their private 
judgment, and can have no higher certainty than whatever 
that is capable of yielding. If they use their private judg- 
ment on no other question, they must use it on the question, 
Are we bound to submit implicitly to the authority of the 
Church of Rome ? The result is, that absolute certainty can 
only be had on the terms of being infallible one's self. A man 
may say, * I am absolutely certain that I am right in my re- 
ligious opinions, because I believe what the Pope believes, 
and he is absolutely certain not to believe wrong.' But then 
comes the question, * How come you to be absolutely certain 
that the Pope is absolutely certain not to believe wrong ? ' 

It is not possible to answer this question without being 
guilty of the logical fallacy of arguing in a circle. For ex- 


ample, a common way of answering is by producing texts of 
Scripture such as 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will 
build my Church,' and such like. Now before we can use 
these texts to prove the Church's infallibility, private judg- 
ment must decide that the books cited are the Word of God, 
and private judgment must interpret the texts brought for- 
ward ; and if private judgment can be trusted to do this, it 
would seem that it might be trusted to decide other questions 
too. But there is no point on which Roman advocates are 
fonder of insisting than that it is from the Church that we 
receive the Bible ; that without her guidance we could have 
no certainty about the canon of Scripture; and still more, 
that without the Church's guidance we are incompetent to 
find the true meaning of Scripture. Now, certainly, those 
texts which are alleged to prove the Church's infallibility 
are not so plain and clear that no rational man can doubt 
their meaning. On the contrary, there are no texts in the 
Sacred Volume about which controversy has raged more 
fiercely. I suppose there is no text on which the Fathers 
have given greater variety of interpretation than that which 
I just mentioned, * Thou art Peter ' : and we have to go down 
far, indeed, before we find one who discovered the Bishop of 
Rome in it. As a matter of fact, it is certain that more than 
half of those who profess to acknowledge the authority of 
the Bible are unable to find in it any proof of Roman in- 
fallibility. It remains, then, for a Roman Catholic to say, 
* I know that I understand these texts rightly, because the 
Church, which cannot err, has taught me that this is their true 
meaning/ and then they are clearly in a vicious circle. They 
say, ' The Church is infallible, because the Scriptures testify 
that she is so, and the Scriptures testify this because the 
Church infallibly declares that such is their meaning.' 

We find ourselves in the same circle if we try to prove 
the Church's infallibility by antiquity, sayings of the Fathers, 
by reason, or in any other way. For the advocates of the 
Church of Rome have constantly maintained that, on religious 
questions, nothing but the Church's authority can give us cer- 
tainty. Well, when we are trying to prove the Church's 



authority, we shall be guilty of a logical fallacy if we assume 
the thing to be proved. Unless, then, we are building a 
fabric in the air, our proof of the Church's infallibility must 
rest on something else ; and if we arrive at a certain result, 
it follows that without the Church's help it is possible for us 
to arrive at not only true, but absolutely certain, results in 
our investigation of one of the most difficult of religious 
questions. All the attempts of Roman Catholic controver- 
sialists to show the helplessness of men without the Church 
make it impossible to have any confidence in their success in 
finding the Church. 

Great efforts have been made by Roman Catholic divines 
to clear their mode of procedure from the charge of logical 
fallacy, but in the nature of things such efforts must be hope- 
less. A clever mathematician described the problem of per- 
petual motion, about which so many crazy speculators have 
busied themselves, as the problem to enable a man to lift him- 
self from the ground by the waistband of his own breeches. 
And this is precisely the kind of problem which men set 
themselves when they hope to discover some absolute se- 
curity against the possibility of going wrong in their judg- 
ments. Unless God directly bestows miraculously this privilege 
on themselves, they must be exposed to risk of error in their 
judgment that somebody else possesses this privilege. In 
point of fact, I believe that in the Roman Church, when- 
ever faith in her is more than that indolent uninquiring 
assent which men give to the opinions in which they were 
brought up, and which it has not occurred to them to doubt, 
it rests on an implied persuasion that God has miraculously 
bestowed on them the privilege of knowing that the Church 
is infallible. Whether such a persuasion is an adequate 
foundation of faith will be considered afterwards, when I 
come to discuss the value of faith resting on a supposed 
motion of God's Spirit communicated to the individual. 

Since this lecture was delivered, a Roman Catholic bishop 
(Clifford) has attempted, in an article in the Fortnightly Re- 
view (January, 1887), to meet the difficulty here raised. The 
statement which he professes to answer is : ' The Church 


bases its authority on the remarkable words, "Thou art 
Peter," &c. The authority of the words, " Thou art Peter," 
rests on the Divine authority of the New Testament. But 
the authority of the New Testament, in turn, rests on the 
authority of the Church, which derives its authority from the 
book. . . . We call this process, in other matters, arguing 
in a circle.' Bishop Clifford replies : The argument here 
set forth is an argument in a circle, no doubt ; but it is not 
the line of argument which the Church adopts in proving 
against unbelievers her Divine origin and mission. He then 
proceeds to state the latter line of argument in a form, of 
which what follows is a summary : 

(a) She appeals, in the first instance, to the writings of 
the New Testament, using them, not as inspired books, but 
as the genuine works of contemporary writers, in the same 
way as she appeals to Tacitus, Seneca, or other trustworthy 
authorities. In this way it is established, by purely historical 
evidence, that there was such a person as Christ ; that He 
founded a Society, which received the names of the Christian 
and the Catholic Church ; that that Society has continued to 
exist through successive generations to the present day, and 
that the Church is that Society. 

(3) Still using the New Testament writings only as his- 
torical records, she establishes the fact of the miracles of 
Christ, and especially the fact of the Resurrection. Thence 
she infers that Christ is God. In confirmation of His Di- 
vinity, and of the truth of His mission, she appeals to the 
manner in which His prophecies concerning the Church and 
the Jewish nation have been fulfilled ; to the wonderful 
spread of the Gospel ; to the constancy of the martyrs ; to 
the great change for good that the preaching of the Gospel 
has wrought among men ; and to the testimony which the 
Church herself has borne, through so many generations, to 
the belief which has been held in the truth of His miracles. 

(c) Christ having been proved to be God, His words must 
be Divine, and therefore infallibly true. But it is on record 
that He spoke the words, ' Thou art Peter,' &c. ; * As the 
Father has sent me, I also send you' (John xx. 21) ;' Going, 


teach all nations : . . . behold, I am with you all days, even 
to the consummation of the world' (Matt, xxviii. 19, 20). 
These being God's words, the Church, to which they relate, 
is a Divine institution, and has authority from God. 

(d} This Church, founded by God, with a mission from 
God to teach all nations, and armed with a Divine promise 
that God will be with her to the consummation of the world, 
cannot err in her teaching ; she is, by God's appointment, 

Such, in substance, is Bishop Clifford's reply ; but, in 
offering it, he wholly misconceives the exigencies of his 
position. He brings out the infallibility of the Church as 
the result of a long line of argument. This doctrine, which 
is wanted for the foundation of the building, is with him the 
coping-stone of the structure; or, to state the matter more 
correctly, it is the last storey of a house of cards. For the 
whole argument is full of disputable points. Thus, in the 
last clause of paragraph (#), ' and the Church is that society,' 
he, no doubt, by 'the Church' means the Church of Rome, to 
the exclusion, for example, of the Anglican Church and of 
the Eastern ; but it need not be said what room for contro- 
versy there is on that point. In paragraph (d} there is a 
tremendous jump in the assumption that to prove the Divine 
institution of the Church is enough to prove its infallibility. 
For with regard to the State, we are told ' the powers that be 
are ordained of God,' yet it does not follow that * the powers 
that be' can never issue unjust commands. 

But this is not the time to examine the goodness of 
Bishop Clifford's arguments ; that will come under discus- 
sion at a later stage : what we are now concerned with is 
whether such a proof as is here offered us makes any pre- 
tence of being adequate to the necessities of the case. What 
is wanted is a proof which will induce us to accept without 
doubting the teaching of the Church. Now, you cannot 
submit without doubting to a doubtful authority. It would 
be ridiculous, for instance, to say, You must accept without 
the least doubt the assertions of the Church of Rome, because 
it is an even chance that she may be infallible. What degree 


of assurance, then, is such an argument as Bishop Clifford's 
calculated to afford r You cannot have more assurance of 
the truth of the conclusion of a long line of argument than 
whatever assurance you have of the truth of every premiss, 
and of the correctness of every inference, used in the argu- 
ment. If doubt attaches to any one step in the argument, 
that doubt will attach to the conclusion : if doubt attaches to 
more steps than one, the conclusion is affected by multiplied 

Now, Bishop Clifford cannot possibly imagine that the 
steps of his argument are free from doubt. The line of argu- 
ment is, in its general features, the same as that employed 
by Protestants, which Roman Catholic advocates are fond of 
saying is not sufficient to warrant certainty of belief without 
the testimony of an infallible Church. But if Bishop Clifford's 
account of the matter is right, Protestants have ten times as 
much certainty as Roman Catholics. For the arguments by 
which the former establish their faith are accepted as good 
and valid by the latter, to the foundation of whose system 
they are indispensable. But the arguments necessary to 
establish the points in the system of Roman Catholics which 
are peculiar to them, are such that nobody but themselves 
can see any cogency in them. 

Bishop Clifford was probably aware of the weakness of 
the proof he offers ; for he is careful to say that this is only 
the line of argument which the Church offers to unbelievers. 
But Logic has not one rule for believers, another for unbe- 
lievers. If the proof which the Church tenders to unbelievers 
is not satisfactory, she does not mend matters by saying, 
Oh, you will be fully satisfied if you will only take my word 
for everything. This is much the same as if one, seeking a 
place with you as a servant, brought you a recommendation 
which you did not think satisfactory, and then thought to 
make it all right by writing his own name on the back of it. 
However, I remember that this line of defence was taken up 
long ago by Dr. Newman, and I believe it is as plausible as 
any that can be adopted. He frankly owned the impossi- 
bility of making out any proof of her claims which will be 


felt as demonstratively convincing by one who has not 
already submitted to her. He taught that one must not ex- 
pect certainty in the highest sense before conversion. ' Faith 
must make a venture, and is rewarded by sight.'* The claims 
of the Church shine, as it were, by their own light. She comes 
and calls on you, in the name of God, to bow down before her. 
And though, perhaps, you can give no reason logically unas- 
sailable for submitting to her, yet, after you have submitted, 
you find that you have done well. You find in her bosom 
rest, peace, freedom from doubt ; and you are sure that she 
who has bestowed these gifts upon you must be divine. 

Now, assuredly we do not deny that an alleged revelation 
may powerfully commend itself by internal evidence. He 
who has received such a revelation on its external proofs 
may find additional reason for trusting it in the consistency 
of its doctrines with each other, their reasonableness, their 
holiness, their adaptation to the wants of his nature. Such 
arguments as these go to make up great part of the grounds 
of the conviction we all feel that the Bible comes k from God. 
But this rational conviction can be felt by no member of a 
Church claiming to be infallible. For her first principle is, 
that her teaching shall be subjected to no criticism. A 
disciple of the Church of Rome is bound to crush down 
every doubt as sinful must reject every attempt to test the 
teaching of his Church by reason or Scripture or antiquity. 
Consequently, her teaching can never receive any subsequent 
verification. The certainty of her disciples can never rise 
higher than it was the first moment they submitted to her. 
The pretence of subsequent verification really presents us 
with a petitio principii in the most outrageous form. * You 
must believe everything I say,' demands the Pope. 'Why 
should we ?' we inquire. ' Well, perhaps I cannot give any 
quite convincing reason ; but just try it. If you trust me 
with doubt or hesitation, I make no promise ; but if you 
really believe everything I say, you will find, that you will 
believe everything I say.' It follows, then, that all the Church 

* See Loss and Gain, pp. 284, 318. 


of Rome can promise is what any guide can promise who 
insists on blindfolding his passengers. * Trust yourselves 
implicitly to me, and you shall thenceforward feel no doubt 
or perplexity ; you shall never see any reason to make you 
think that I am leading 1 you wrong. Whatever may be the 
difficulties or dangers in the path, you shall never perceive 
any of them.' It requires no Divine commission to be able 
to promise freedom from doubt on such terms as these. I 
could promise as much to any of you. I could tell you all : 
' If you never use your understanding, it will never lead you 
wrong. If you never inquire, you will never be perplexed. 
If you take all your opinions on trust from others, you will 
be free from all the painful uncertainty that attends the task 
of forming opinions for yourselves.' No; if you wish to 
make sure that the Church of Rome is a trustworthy guide, 
you must examine her claims before you submit to her. For, 
as her present rulers teach, he who once puts himself under 
her guidance abandons all means of verification of her doc- 
trines, and has no power of detecting error, should any exist. 
This argument of Dr. Newman's was revived some little 
time ago by Mr. Mallock. He had been in the habit of 
publishing articles in magazines, in which he criticized other 
people's beliefs and disbeliefs so freely, that it was hard to 
know what he believed or did not believe himself. At last 
he published an essay, of which the gist was that Romanism 
alone could make head against infidelity ; that all attempts 
to defend Christianity by argument must end in failure ; but 
that a religion which demands submission without proof may 
hold its ground for ever. For a time, I grant ; but certainly 
only for a time. Was ever the cause of Christianity so 
treacherously defended ? If infamous charges were made 
against my character, perhaps there are some of you who- 
might think well enough of me to disbelieve them without 
examination. But suppose anyone were to defend me after 
this fashion : * Dr. Salmon says he is a good man, and I 
earnestly pray you to take his own word for it ; for if you 
permit yourself to inquire into the charges against him, you 
will be forced to come to an unfavourable conclusion about 


him, which would be so very uncomfortable for you to hold, 
that it will be a great deal wiser for you to make no inquiry.' 
Do you think I should be grateful for such a defence as that ? 
or that I could regard the maker of it as other than an enemy 
who scarcely took the trouble to disguise his malignity ? If 
this be the best that can be said for the Church of Rome, the 
peace of mind which she offers is just that which might be 
offered by the directors of some Glasgow Bank, who had 
made away with their customers' money, but hoped that by 
bold speaking they might carry on their business prospe- 
rously, and prevent their accounts being looked into. 

Recently an attempt has been made to place the system 
of Roman Catholic belief on a more scientific foundation. 
Of this I shall speak in the next lecture. 



~T) EFORE coming to the immediate subject of this lecture,. 

-U I find it convenient to mention a very interesting book, 
published several years ago by Mr. Capes, one of those who 
went over to Rome about the same time as Dr. Newman, but 
who, unlike him, did not submit to having his eyes quite 
blindfolded, and consequently saw reason to distrust the 
guide whom he had chosen, and therefore returned to the 
Church of England. His reasons were given in the book of 
which I speak. In this he tells* that he had been about five 
years a Roman Catholic before he fully understood the nature 
of the claim made by members of that communion. About 
that time he was taken to task by one of the leading divines 
in that Church for having spoken of the certainty which they 
had of the truths of their religion, as in its nature moral, not 
absolute ; that is to say, as amounting to a very high kind of 
probability, and nothing more. He was informed that a Ca- 
tholic possesses absolute certainty as to the truths of revealed 
religion, which are taught him by an infallible Church, in 
whose statements he believes with an undoubting faith, which 
faith is the supernatural gift of God. His knowledge, then, 
of the supernatural truths of Christianity is alleged to be 
absolute, and to admit of neither criticism nor doubt. In the 
next lecture I mean to say something about the theory of 
the supernatural gift of faith as laid down at the Vatican 
Council, merely remarking now that the theory of a super- 
natural endowment superseding in matters of religion the 

* Reasons for Returning to the Church of England: 2nd edition, 1871, p. 56. 


ordinary laws of reasoning, an endowment to question the 
validity of which involves deadly peril, deters Roman Ca- 
tholics from all straightforward seeking for truth ; for they 
fear lest they should trifle with that supernatural gift by seek- 
ing for that which they claim to have already. 

Now observe that the evidence which proves the truth of 
Christianity is in its nature historical, not demonstrative. 
That Jesus Christ lived more than eighteen centuries ago ; 
that He died, rose again, and taught such and such doctrines, 
are things proved by the same kind of argument as that by 
which we know that Augustus was Emperor of Rome, and 
that there is such a country as China. Whether or not Christ 
founded a Church ; whether He bestowed the gift of infalli- 
bility upon it ; and whether He fixed the seat of that infalli- 
bility at Rome, are things to be proved, if proved at all, by 
arguments which a logician would class as probable, not 
demonstrative. It is true that Roman Catholics maintain 
that when a Divine revelation has been given, our assent 
is not a matter of opinion, but of certainty. We must re- 
ceive without doubt what God has revealed. In a popular 
lecture, there is room for abundant declamation on the topic 
that whatever God has revealed must be absolutely true. It 
is a common rhetorical artifice with a man who has to com- 
mend a false conclusion deduced from a syllogism, of which 
one premiss is true, and the other false, to spend an immensity 
of time in proving the premiss which nobody denies. If he 
devotes a sufficient amount of argument and declamation to 
this topic, the chances are that his hearers will never ask for 
the proof of the other premiss. Thus it is really amusing in 
Roman Catholic popular books of controversial teaching to 
see how much labour is expended on the proof that God is 
true ; that He cannot deceive ; that nothing which He has 
.revealed can be false ; and that therefore those who accept 
His statements without doubting cannot possibly be in error, 
and have infallible certainty that they are in the right. But 
all the time it is tried to make us forget to ask for proof of 
what is the real point at issue, namely, that God has revealed 
th doctrines which their Church teaches. It is certain enough 


that what God has revealed is true ; but if it is not certain 
that He has revealed the infallibility of the Roman Church, 
then we cannot have certain assurance of the truth of that 
doctrine, or of anything that is founded on it. 

But it is unavoidable that the proofs that God has re- 
vealed the infallibility of the Church should be, in their 
nature, historical; that is to say, probable, not demonstrative. 
The great crux, then, with Roman Catholic divines is to ex- 
plain how, from probable premisses, we arrive at absolutely 
certain conclusions ; how we can have a stronger assurance 
of what the infallible Church teaches than we can have of 
the fact of her infallibility. 

Dr. Newman had the merit of seeing more clearly than 
other champions of his Church that a solution of this prob- 
lem was impossible, if the infallibility of the Church was to 
be proved by any logical process of reasoning, the [neces- 
sary law of which is, that we cannot have greater certainty of 
any conclusion than we have of the premisses from which it 
is derived. He saw, therefore, that the thing to be done was 
to remove the process of finding the infallible Church into 
some province outside logic, in which it shall not be amen- 
able to logical laws. And this is what he tried to do in the 
last of his works, called an Essay on the Grammar of Assent. 
The professed object of it is, leaving to works on logic the 
discussion of the theory of Inference to give a theory of the 
process by which men arrive at their beliefs. Perhaps the 
chief fault in the book is that Newman has not, even in his 
own mind, sufficiently distinguished two very different things. 
He has given a most interesting history of the process by 
which men actually arrive at beliefs ; and he gives this in 
substitution for the answer to the question, How shall men 
secure that their beliefs shall be correct r 

Perhaps you might suppose that a sound theory of the 
reasoning process would give a sufficient account of all our 
correct beliefs. The great merit of Newman's book is, that 
it brings out very clearly that this is as far as possible from 
being the case. A moment's reflection will convince you 
.that the majority of our beliefs, true or false, have not been 


arrived at by any process of reasoning, but have been handed 
to us by authority, or caught up from sympathy. In child- 
hood, on the authority of our elders, we accept a mass of 
beliefs which long govern our practical conduct. As we 
grow up, experience verifies the soundness of much that we 
have been taught ; some things, however, we examine and 
reject. But no subsequent reasoning adds anything to the 
strength of our earlier faith. The belief of him to whom it 
has never occurred to doubt, though certainly less secure, is. 
commonly stronger than that of him who has doubted, and 
has by his own investigation verified the correctness of what 
he had been taught. 

So, again, we naturally believe what our neighbours be- 
lieve, and what commends itself to our feelings. It is the 
most difficult thing in the world to help believing what all 
about you believe. There is an interesting account in a book, 
not so much read now as it was once on a time (Eothen], of 
the process by which a hard-headed Englishman going out 
to live in the East, and at first laughing at the people's su- 
perstition about witchcraft and ghosts, and such like, becomes 
gradually infected by the beliefs which form the atmosphere 
in which he lives, and ends by becoming a slave to supersti- 
tions he had once despised. How little evidence is necessary 
to get a popular rumour to be accepted as fact ? Take, for 
example, the generation of panics. With scarcely any ground 
to justify alarm, a whole army has been seized with appre- 
hension of imminent danger, and in that belief has turned 
to flight. It requires great training and discipline to make a 
force proof against such alarms. I need hardly remind you 
how terribly dangerous it is for anyone to raise a cry of fire 
in a crowded theatre or concert-room. Often has a whole 
audience rushed to the doors, trampling each other to death 
in their eagerness to escape, fully believing in the presence 
of danger of which there was no evidence whatever. At the 
time of the Indian mutiny, I remember that stories were cur- 
rent, and were generally believed, of atrocities perpetrated on 
our countrymen and countrywomen, which we now know to 
have been gross exaggerations ; but at the time to hint a 



suspicion of exaggeration would have been regarded as a 
mark of sympathy with the rebels. 

Dr. Newman quarrels with Locke's dictum, that we ought 
not to entertain any belief with assent greater than is pro- 
portioned to the grounds on which it rests. He shows that 
nobody does carry out this rule in practice ; and that Locke 
himself confesses that there is a number of things not demon- 
strable, which we hold with as full belief as we give to any 
proposition in Euclid. It would be mad to doubt that you 
will one day die ; yet the thing is not demonstrably certain. 
I repeat this from Newman ; but I may remark that it is a 
weakness of his logic that, though quite familiar with the 
theory of the deductive process, he seems quite unacquainted 
with the logic of induction. It is more to the point when he 
says that a man may be content to trust all he has in the 
world to the faith he has in the truth of his wife, or his friend ; 
he may be most wise in refusing to listen to any question on 
the matter, yet other people have been deceived in such con- 
fidence, and he would be unable to give any logical proof 
that it was impossible for himself to make a mistake such as 

With this part of Newman's book I have not much to dis- 
pute, unless it be the supposition that it gains anything for 
the Church of Rome. Nay, I found it very useful when an 
Essay was published a few years ago on The Ethics of Belief, 
by the late Professor Clifford. Clifford, whose great fear came 
to be lest men should believe too much, tried to make out 
that it is a highly immoral thing to believe anything the 
proofs of which we have not fully investigated. Newman's 
book, if he had read it, might have taught him that what he 
condemned was really a necessity of our life. 

The simple truth is, that as all our action must be guided 
and stimulated by beliefs of some kind, our Creator has not 
left us dependent for such beliefs on the slow process of argu- 
mentation. Instead of the tedious and laborious process of 
forming conclusions for ourselves, by weighing arguments 
pro and con, we take ready-made the conclusions of others ; 
and it is in this way that the best results one generation is 



able to arrive at are handed over as the starting-point for 
the next. To this is due that the world makes any progress 
in knowledge, for if each generation had to start afresh, there 
would be no reason why one should be more successful or 
wiser than another. 

But it is important to remark, that though our beliefs are 
not, in the first instance, generated by reasoning, they are 
bound to justify themselves by reason. There is nothing 
more rational than that children should accept what is taught 
them by their instructors, even though those instructors may 
be in error on some points ; and generally that, on subjects 
which we have not leisure or capacity to investigate for our- 
selves, we should receive the conclusions come to by those 
who have, and who have the highest reputation for know- 
ledge and ability. 

But all this investigation as to the manner in which we 
get beliefs is seen to be utterly worthless as a basis for the 
doctrine of Church infallibility, if we observe that though we 
get beliefs originally, as a general rule, without much per- 
sonal investigation, every belief has to submit to a constant 
process of testing and verification, either by ourselves indivi- 
dually, or by general experience ; and the confidence we have 
in traditional belief mainly depends on the constant exami- 
nation to which it is subjected. Thus you have a general 
knowledge that the theory of gravitation will account for all 
the movements of the heavenly bodies. You might count on 
your fingers the number of persons in the three kingdoms 
who could say this from their personal knowledge ; but you 
know that if anyone of them discovered any case of failure or 
exception, it would immediately become a subject of scientific 
controversy, and we should soon hear of it in every news- 
paper. How do you know that we are living in an island ? 
You firmly believe that we are, and yet did you ever sail 
round Ireland yourself? Have you even spoken to anyone 
who had ? The history of your belief is simply that you were 
told it when you were a child, and have never heard it con- 
tradicted since. But what makes your firm belief rational is 
that you know that if it had not been true, you would be quite 


sure to have heard it contradicted. If a single ship had sailed 
out of Dublin, either to the north or south, and had found its 
way stopped by land ; if a single person had made his way out 
of Ireland by land, you could not help hearing of it. And so, 
generally, about geographical propositions of this kind, which 
are favourite examples with Dr. Newman, we know that the 
maps published by a number of independent publishers, all 
substantially agree in the geographical facts which they as- 
sert. We know that a multitude of persons are acting every 
day on the faith that these facts have been correctly stated ; 
and we know that if any one of these persons had found that 
this faith had misled him, he would have been sure to make 
his disappointment known. In this way we all feel undoubt- 
ing certainty about a multitude of geographical facts that it 
would be quite impossible for us to investigate for ourselves. 
And that, though maps are not absolutely infallible, and 
though we sometimes hear of navigators making rectification 
of the charts, sometimes even of shipwrecks caused by too 
implicit dependence on them. 

I have already said that, in claiming the right of private 
judgment, we acknowledge the need of human teaching to 
inform our judgment. In particular, we own that the teach- 
ing of the Church is God's appointed means for the religious 
instruction of mankind. But the confidence with which we 
can trust such teaching is altogether proportionate to its 
willingness to submit to correction. The teaching of the 
primitive Church, or of our own, may be as safely trusted as 
the uncontradicted statements of the newspaper press in a 
free country, where we know that anything erroneous that 
may be published is liable to be met by an immediate 
counter-statement. The teaching of a Church which claims 
infallibility^ as little worthy of confidence as what is pub- 
lished in the newspapers of a despotic country, where nobody 
is permitted to deny whatever it is the wish of the Govern- 
ment that the people should believe. 

A few words will suffice as to a second point on which 
Dr. Newman lays stress ; namely, that we give to things for 
which the evidence is only probable in its nature as strong a 

F 2 


practical assent as to truths which are actually demonstrated. 
This is no more than what is laid down in the Introduction 
to Butler's Analogy : probability is the very guide of life. 
Evidence which a logician would refuse to class as demon- 
stration suffices to give us practical certainty. Even when 
there is but a strong probability one way, with a small 
opposing probability the other way, the small probability is, 
in practice, completely neglected. For instance, when the 
life of a fellow-creature is at stake (as when a criminal is 
tried on circumstantial evidence), the judge tells the jury to 
find him guilty if they have no * rational doubt' of his guilt ; 
that is to say, that even though one can imagine an expla- 
nation of the facts consistent with his innocence, still they 
are to find him guilty if the probability of this explanation is 
smaller than that which reasonable men ordinarily allow to 
influence their conduct. It will presently be part of my own 
case that it is impossible to draw a sharp line of distinction 
between things of which we may describe ourselves as prac- 
tically certain and things which can only be said to be in the 
highest degree probable. 

But what I take to be the specialty of Dr. Newman's 
book was his imagined discovery of a supposed 'illative 
sense.' It has already been made evident that logic will 
not provide any means of freeing us absolutely from risk of 
error in our religious opinions. If we take our opinions on 
trust from a guide supposed to be infallible, we are still 
liable to have erred in the process by which we persuaded 
ourselves that he is infallible. It would be a * petitio prin- 
cipii' if we employed the infallible authority in proving his 
own infallibility : and if we recognize it without his help, 
we are liable to all the risk of error with which our unas- 
sisted religious speculation is said to be attended. Dr. 
Newman hoped to get over this difficulty by showing that 
the process of arriving at beliefs was not the work of logic, 
but of a special sense. 

Some persons, he remarks, have an intuitive perception 
of character, and yet would be unable to assign reasons for 
the distrust which certain persons inspire in them. A weather- 


wise peasant can predict the weather, without being able to 
give his reasons for saying it will rain to-morrow. Savages 
have been able to track their way over an unknown country 
with a sagacity which seems more like instinct than reason. 
All these sagacious inferences, of which logic seemed unable 
to give an account, Newman imagined to be the work of a 
special illative sense, and to this he trusted to give him some 
higher certainty than reason was capable of yielding, so that 
he might be rightly as sure that the Pope would not deceive 
him as a child is that his mother will not deceive him ; and 
might trust the indications which manifest the existence of 
an infallible Church as safely as a practised physician trusts 
those by which he makes a diagnosis of a disease, arriving 
at a right conclusion, which he would not always find easy 
to justify by argument. 

It certainly is true that right conclusions sometimes are 
arrived at by what looks like a process of divination ; but I 
do not in the least believe that we are entitled to assume a 
special sense to account for them, or that they are obtained 
in any other way than as the results of rapid inference from 
minute facts unnoticed by any but very careful observers. It 
is no objection to this account of the matter that the parties 
themselves are unable to explain the steps by which they 
arrive at their conclusions ; for it requires a high state of 
culture to be able to analyse mental processes. Reasoning 
came first ; logic afterwards. Men reasoned correctly for 
many generations before Aristotle or anyone else undertook 
to give an account of the laws which govern all correct 

To take Newman's own example, it is true that an 
experienced physician may be able at a glance to detect 
the real nature of the disease under which a patient is 
labouring ; but, if he can give no account of his reasons, I 
should not place him in the first rank of educated physicians ; 
for such a one would be able to teach his class what were the 
symptoms which had guided his diagnosis. Just in the same 
way, any of us, meeting a man whom we had never seen 
before, might be struck by his likeness to a brother or parent 


whom we had known, and might yet be quite unable to tell 
in what the likeness consisted ; while a portrait painter, who- 
had made it his business to observe features, might be able 
not only to detect the likeness, but also to tell in what it con- 
sisted. Or, to take another example of the same kind, we all 
can recognize the handwriting of a friend, and yet might be 
embarrassed if we had to give evidence on a case of disputed 
signature in a court of justice. But a few years ago, an inte- 
resting book was published by an expert on the handwriting 
of Junius, showing that those who make the discrimination 
of handwriting their profession employ no inarticulate process, 
but reason by arguments of which they are well able to give 
an account. Once more, take the case of some parts of plays 
ascribed to Shakespeare, his authorship of which has been 
disputed. There are parts which some critics, on general 
considerations of style, had pronounced not to be his, but 
their grounds of judgment were unappreciable by others of 
less fine ear or less familiarity with the poet. Recently the 
metrical peculiarities of these parts have been studied, and 
have been found to differ from those of Shakespeare's certain 
works. This is an argument which anyone can test who is 
able to count. But, no doubt, the metrical peculiarities in 
question were among the things that were felt by the earlier 
critics, though they had not so analysed their feelings as to- 
be able to make others understand the grounds of their 

On the whole, I do not think that there is the slightest 
ground for thinking that we have any special sense to guide us 
to correct beliefs, though I readily concede that many a man 
arrives at correct beliefs, not without reasoning, but without 
being able to state to others the reasons which have influ- 
enced his judgment. The sum of the matter is, then, that 
there is not the smallest pretence for the assertion that the 
process by which Newman or anyone else arrived at belief in 
an infallible Church was the business of a special sense, or 
lies in a province above logic, or is not amenable to the 
necessary law of reasoning that we have no stronger reason 
for holding the conclusion than we have for holding the 


premisses from which it was obtained. Belief in an infallible 
Church, when not merely traditional, is the result of a process 
of reasoning ; and, when we come to analyse that process, we 
shall find it to be a very unsound one. At any rate, if there 
be any uncertainty about this process, this uncertainty must 
attach to all its results, and there can be no success in a 
search for infallibility unless we are infallible ourselves. 

Dr. Newman is obliged, in substance, to accept this con- 
clusion, though he objects to the form of expression. To say 
we are infallible would imply that we were sure of being 
always in the right; but you must own that there are some 
cases in which we may be absolutely certain that we are in 
the right. Who can refuse to own that there are some things 
about which we may be perfectly certain ? Are you not cer- 
tain that two and two are four ? Are you not certain that 
Great Britain is an island r that the reigning sovereign is 
Queen Victoria, and not William the Fourth ? Are you not 
certain that I am now addressing you ? And we may be 
equally certain of the falsity of some other things. Would 
you condescend to discuss the truth of the heathen fancy 
that Enceladus lies under Etna, or the notion that Johanna 
Southcote was a divinely-inspired prophet, or that the Em- 
peror Napoleon had, as he fancied, a star ? Why may we 
not, then, without being infallible, have the same kind of 
certainty that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ ? 

Well, we may reasonably ask of the advocates of the 
Church of Rome that they shall not blow hot and blow cold 
on the question what kind of certainty is attainable by man's 
unassisted powers. When they try to prove our need of an 
infallible guide, they would make you think that, without 
such help, man's attainment of religious truth is impossible. 
Now, when the question is whether such a guide has been 
found, we are told that the answer to this, which is certainly 
not the easiest of religious problems, can be known as cer- 
tainly as that two and two are four. If this be so, surely we 
are safe in asserting our power, without any help from the 
Church of Rome, to arrive at certain knowledge of all the 
truths which we hold in common with her. Is not the 


evidence for the statement, 'Jesus Christ came into the world 
to save sinners,' quite as clear and convincing as that for the 
proposition, ' the Pope is Christ's vicar' t 

The simple answer to Newman's talk about certainty is 
got by observing what is the kind of things about which we 
can have practical certainty. They are the things about 
which our own judgments agree with those of all other men. 
The truths which we have the highest confidence in accept- 
ing are those which commend themselves as plain and self- 
evident to everyone else as well as to ourselves. Is the 
infallibility of the Roman Church a truth of this class ? We 
know, as a matter of fact, that it is not. We need not now 
determine whether we heretics are right or not. Our very 
existence proves that, if Christ saw fit to found an infallible 
Church, He did not see fit to give her unmistakeable creden- 
tials. He might, if He had chosen, have made her Divine 
commission as plain as that the sun is in heaven ; but, 
instead of that, He has left the matter, to say the least, so 
doubtful, that more than half of those who own Christ as 
their Lord reject the authority of him who pretends to be the 
Saviour's mouthpiece ; and of those who in name acknow- 
ledge that authority, it is safe to say that more than half give 
only nominal submission. It is safe to say it, because it has 
been the theme of constant lamentations, in the encyclicals of 
the late Pope and the present, how his authority is resisted 
in Italy itself and in other countries professedly Roman 
Catholic. Cardinal Newman cannot be more certain that 
the Pope is Christ's vicar than I am that he is not. I do not 
say it for the purpose of talking big, but state a simple fact, 
that to my mind this proposition stands on exactly a level 
with the examples given by Newman, ' that Enceladus lies 
under Etna, and that Johanna Southcote was inspired,' as a 
thing that I not only do not believe to be true, but cannot 
conceive it possible that I should ever be made to believe it 
to be true. Now, when that is the honest expression of the 
feelings of a person who has given much study to the subject, 
and has done his best to be candid, it is absurd to talk as if 
the proposition were of the same class as that two and two 
make four. 


When I deny the possibility of Roman Catholics having 
any success in their search for an infallible Church, I hope 
you will not think that I hold any Pyrrhonic system of scep- 
tical philosophy, or that I disparage the amount of certainty 
which the human mind is capable of arriving at. It is, in 
truth, Roman Catholics who get into difficulties from dis- 
paraging that homely kind of certainty which suffices to 
govern our practical decisions in all the most important 
affairs of life. This seems to them a poor thing, because 
logicians will only class this practical certainty as high pro- 
bability, and because it shades off into probability by grada- 
tions impossible to be measured. We are certain, for instance, 
that there was such a man as Julius Caesar. We may call 
ourselves certain about the principal events of his life ; but 
when you go into details, and inquire, for instance, what 
knowledge he had of Catiline's conspiracy, you soon come to 
questions to which you can give only probable or doubtful 
answers. And it is just the same as to the facts of Chris- 
tianity ; for ours is a historical religion, and our knowledge 
of it has to follow the same laws as our knowledge of other 
history. About the great facts (including all the knowledge of 
which we count necessary to salvation) we may fairly call 
ourselves certain. When we descend to details, questions 
may be proposed, our answers to which can only be said to 
be probable, and others which we answer with hesitation, or 
declare ourselves unable to answer at all. This seems to 
Roman Catholics an unsatisfactory state of things, and they 
look about for some tribunal which shall give to any question 
that may be proposed answers absolutely free from risk of 
error. But how can we eliminate risk of error from the 
process of finding this tribunal, or, indeed, of determining 
whether it exists at all ? And if we cannot, what have we 
gained ? Archbishop Whately used to tell a story of a bridge 
at Bath which was so crazy that an old lady was afraid to 
walk across ; so she got herself carried over in a sedan chair. 
What she gained by that was just not seeing the danger; 
but the bridge had to bear her own weight and that of the 
chair and bearers into the bargain. And so those who, 


through fear of making wrong decisions, trust themselves to 
adopt blindfold the decisions of a supposed infallible autho- 
rity gain nothing but not seeing the risk of error. But, in 
real truth, their risk of going wrong in each of the decisions 
adopted blindfold is fully as great as before, and, in addition, 
they make one judgment which we may confidently pro- 
nounce to be wrong namely, the judgment that the Church 
of Rome is infallible. 

The certainty to which Roman Catholics aspire is a thing 
different altogether in kind from what we commonly call 
practical certainty. Newman claims for his certainty the 
attribute of indefectibility, and he plainly shows that it is his 
theory on this point which has kept him a Roman Catholic, 
notwithstanding several shocks his faith has met with since 
he joined that communion. Newman's idea is this : if you 
only think a thing to be true, you may to-morrow find reason 
to think it not to be true ; but if you certainly know a thing 
to be true, truth cannot change that will be true to-morrow 
which is true to-day ; so that, if we once certainly apprehend 
a truth, we must hold it fast, convinced that any other truth 
we may discover can only contradict it in appearance. Thus, 
he holds that a man can never lose his certitude, and, if he 
appears to do so, it only proves that he never had had it. For 
example, if a man believes himself to have become certain of 
the infallibility of the Roman Church, and, after joining her, 
becomes disgusted at the definition of the Immaculate Con- 
ception or the Pope's personal infallibility, and says, This is 
more than I bargained for, and quits her communion, this 
does not show that he has lost his certainty of the Church's 
infallibility, but that he never had had it. He might have 
believed all the doctrines which the Church had propounded 
at the time he joined her, but he did not understand that 
faith in her inerrancy required him equally to believe all that 
she might at any time teach. 

By way, I suppose, of making his theory more acceptable 
to a Bible Protestant, Newman puts the following case : 
* Suppose,' he says, * I have a certainty that the Bible is in- 
spired, and that it teaches that Adam was the first man; and 


suppose that all ethnologists, philologists, anatomists, and 
antiquarians, led by a multitude of independent proofs, agreed 
in holding that there were different races of men, and that 
Adam had only made his appearance at a definite point of 
time, in a comparatively modern world : then, if I had be- 
lieved with an assent short of certainty, this new evidence 
might make me lose my faith ; but otherwise I should still 
firmly hold what I believed to come from Heaven. I should 
not argue or defend myself, but only wait for better times. 
Philosophers might take their course for me ; I should con- 
sider that they and I thought in different mediums, and that 
their certitude could not be in antagonism with mine.' I re- 
collect hearing, when I was young, that there were then still 
surviving Roman Catholic ecclesiastics who, in reference to- 
the Copernican theory of astronomy, took the course here 
described. They looked upon it as a scientific craze, which 
had become so epidemic, that direct struggle with it was time 
wasted. They must only wait until it would blow over. 

Dr. Newman owns that he is making an impossible sup- 
position in putting the case that a philosophic discovery might 
contradict Revelation. But in such a case I am sure that 
the course which he recommends is an irrational one. No- 
one can rationally maintain the same thing to be theologi- 
cally true and philosophically false. Men may resolutely 
look at a question only from one side. A philosopher may 
shut his eyes to the facts with which theologians are con- 
versant, or vice versa. In the case supposed, clearly, Newman 
would simply refuse to examine the evidence tendered him 
by the philosophers. But if he did examine, and found it 
convincing, he would be obliged to revise his former opinion ;. 
and either own that what he had taken for a revelation was 
not one, or, more probably, that he had misunderstood it. Dr. 
Newman's fallacy is simply this he knows that what is true 
must always remain true, and he infers that what men are 
fully persuaded is true must always remain true. This would 
be the case if men were infallible, and if their undoubting 
persuasion always corresponded with the reality of things ;. 
but, alas, this is by no means the case. A single example- 

7 6 


suffices. For how many ages must all men have believed 
with undoubting persuasion in the immoveability of the earth 
we stand on, and yet the opposite doctrine is now taught as 
part of a child's elementary education ? 

Indeed, with respect to this word certainty, I may remark, 
that the more people talk about their certainty the less they 
really have. If one of you came in and told me, * I saw the 
Prince of Wales just now walking down Sackville-street,' I 
might be a good deal surprised at your news, but there would 
be nothing in your language to make me think you were say- 
ing anything about which you had not full knowledge. But 
if you said, I am certain I saw the Prince of Wales just 
now,' I should conclude you were by no means assured your- 
self of the truth of what you said. 

But to return. There cannot be a plainer proof that men's 
so-called certainty does not always correspond with the re- 
ality of things, than the fact that there may be opposing cer- 
tainties. Dr. Newman, for instance, is certain the Pope is 
infallible, and I am certain he is not. Dr. Newman would 
get over this by calling his strong conviction certainty, and 
giving to mine some weaker name. But what is this but as- 
suming that he is infallible, and I am not r And when he 
refuses to revise his former judgment that the Church of 
Rome is infallible, notwithstanding that since he came to 
it the Pope has made two decisions which, if Newman were 
free to exercise his own judgment, he would pronounce to be 
wrong, what is this but assuming that he was infallible at the 
time of his former judgment ? 

On the contrary, no wise man holds any conclusion of his 
to be absolutely irreversible. There are some things which 
we may firmly believe with a full persuasion that no new 
evidence will turn up to contradict them. In that persuasion 
we may legitimately refuse to attend to opposing evidence 
that is manifestly not of the first class. Thus, I have a firm 
belief in the universality of the law of gravitation. I do not 
give myself the trouble to examine into stories of contrary 
facts alleged to take place in darkened rooms, because I 
know that while the working of the law of gravity is just the 


same in the dark and in the light, the absence of light is 
highly convenient when imposture is attempted. In like man- 
ner, I would not lightly give heed to stories affecting the 
character of a person in whom I had full confidence. But if 
I made it a canon that on no evidence whatever would I be- 
lieve anything to that person's disadvantage ; if, in any case,. 
I maintained that the conclusion I had drawn from my study 
of one class of facts must never be abandoned, no matter what 
new facts might come to light, then my belief could no longer 
be called faith it would be prejudice. 

I have thought that Cardinal Newman's celebrity required 
me to give full examination to his attempt to make a philo- 
sophic basis of Roman belief, founded on a study of the or- 
dinary laws of human assent ; but I think I may safely say 
that that attempt has totally failed, even in the judgment of 
his own co-religionists. When Newman's book first came 
out, one could constantly see traces of its influence in Roman 
Catholic articles in Magazines and Reviews. Now it seems 
to have dropped very much out of sight, and the highest 
Roman Catholic authorities lay quite a different basis for 
their faith. But I will put off speaking of that till the next 



IT follows from the discussions in the last Lectures that we 
have a perfect right to put out of court all Roman 
Catholic attempts to prove the infallibility of their Church, 
as being attempts to build a fabric without any foundation ; 
for it is, in the nature of things, impossible for a fallible man 
to have infallible certainty that he has discovered someone 
able to guide him without possibility of error. But I should 
be sorry to seem to want to get rid of the Roman Catholic 
arguments by any logical tour deforce, or in any way to evade 
meeting them fairly and fully. 

I do not think their case can be stated in a more taking 
way than it was done in a book now rather old, but which 
was at one time relied on as far and away the most effective 
book of Roman Catholic controversy, and which has still 
much circulation and popularity; I mean Milner's End of 
Religious Controversy. Milner begins by laying down three 
maxims, the truth of which, he says, no rational Christian 
will dispute. First, our Divine Master Christ, in establishing 
a religion here on earth, to which all the nations of the earth 
were invited, left some rule or method by which those persons 
who sincerely seek for it may certainly find it. Secondly, 
this rule or method must be secure and never- failing, so as 
not to be ever liable to lead a rational, sincere inquirer into 
error, impiety, or immorality of any kind. Thirdly, this rule 
or method must be universal, adapted to the abilities and 
other circumstances of all those persons for whom the re- 
ligion itself was intended namely, the great bulk of man- 


Milner applies these maxims to discover a rule of faith. 
He first considers and rejects two fallacious rules, as not 
satisfying the prescribed conditions, and then arrives at what 
he conceives to be the only satisfactory rule the teaching of 
his Church. The first rule which he pronounces fallacious is 
4 a supposed private interpretation, or an immediate light or 
motion of God's Spirit communicated to the individual.' This 
rule he takes to be that of the Quakers, the Moravians, and 
some classes of Methodists. Milner has no difficulty in 
tracing the working of -this rule, and showing that it does 
not give the security which his maxims demand. He begins 
with the Montanists, who claimed to have been recipients of 
a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit ; and, touching briefly on 
other heretics who made similar pretensions, gives a long 
account of the excesses and impieties committed by John of 
Leyden t and his followers, the Anabaptists, all committed 
under a full conviction of the uncontrollable inspiration of 
their perpetrators. Then he goes on to tell of their imitators 
in England, who called themselves the ' Family of Love'; of 
the extravagances of the early Quakers ; of the antinomian 
doctrines taught by some of the Methodists, who professed to 
have received them by immediate inspiration ; and he con- 
cludes that to make an immediate personal revelation a rule 
of faith and conduct is to adopt a rule which has led very 
many well-meaning persons into error and impiety. 

I do not disagree with this conclusion ; but Milner evidently 
had not reflected that this rule, which he so clearly shows to 
be fallacious, is the rule on which his own religion depends. 
I made it plain on the last day that no external authority can 
give us absolute freedom from error, unless \ve can manage 
in some way to secure from risk of error the process which 
induces us to rely on that external authority. We examined 
Newman's attempt to justify that process by a study of the 
laws which govern human assent, and we found it to be a 
failure ; and I told you then that this speculation of New- 
man's appears to be little relied on now by Roman Catholics. 
In fact, it is so certain that none of the natural processes of 
the human mind is absolutely free from risk of error, that it 


is plain that no study of these processes can give Roman 
Catholics the security which they demand. So they solve 
the difficulty by a deus ex machina. They are not naturally 
infallible, but God has made them so. It is by a super- 
natural gift of faith that they accept the Church's teaching, 
and have a divinely-inspired certainty that they are in the 
right. Well, now, it is evident that if this be the ground of 
belief, those who think that they are relying on the Church's 
infallibility are in reality relying on their own. The whole 
basis of their system crumbles from under them if it is pos- 
sible that this supposed supernatural gift of faith can deceive 
them. At the Vatican Council of 1870, which may be princi- 
pally known to you by its decree concerning the Infallibility 
of the Pope, which will afterwards come under our considera- 
tion, the more fundamental doctrines concerning God and 
Reason and Faith and Revelation had been previously dis- 
cussed ; and it was decreed that, though the assent of faith is 
not a blind motion of the mind, yet that no one can give to- 
the preaching of the Gospel that assent which is necessary 
to salvation without the illumination and inspiration of the 
Holy Spirit. The Council proceeds to anathematize the 
assertion that it is only living faith that worketh by love 
which is the gift of God. In other words, it is not only 
what Protestants commonly understand by faith which is the 
gift of God ; but mere belief, even though it does not work 
by love, is a supernatural gift ; and an act of such faith is 
declared to be a work pertaining to salvation, in which man 
yields free obedience to God, by consenting to and co-ope- 
rating with His grace, which it was in man's power to resist. 
Finally, those are anathematized who say that Catholics 
have any just cause to call in doubt the faith which they have 
received under the teaching of the Church, by suspending 
their assent until they have got a scientific demonstration of 
the credibility and truth of their faith. This is no mere point 
of scientific theory. The real check which prevents Roman 
Catholics from putting to themselves the question, * Is there 
not a lie in my right hand ?' is the fear lest they should trifle 
with a supernaturally-communicated gift of faith. 


It is evident that if a man tells you, ' I know that I am 
right, and you are wrong, because I have a divinely-inspired 
certainty that I am in the right in my opinion,' such a claim 
does not admit of being met with direct disproof, though it has 
been sometimes met with the mocking answer, ' Your claim 
to a supernatural gift of faith means that your doctrines are 
such, that it requires a miracle to make a man believe them/ 
We can, however, point out that the claim to have been 
taught by God's Spirit is made, and certainly on quite as 
good grounds, by others, who say that they have been led by 
Him to conclusions quite opposite to the Roman Catholic. 
And certainly it is quite superfluous to seek a supernatural 
origin for the feelings of rest, peace, freedom from doubt, 
which men say they find in the bosom of the Roman Church. 
These feelings may be obtained by anyone in a perfectly 
natural way, on the easy terms of resolute abstinence from 
investigation. But it is, in any case, important to point 
out that the whole foundation of a Roman Catholic's con- 
fidence is just that rule of faith which Milner has taken 
such pains to prove to be fallacious. When a Romanist 
claims to have been taught by a supernatural gift of faith to 
trust his Church, and when a Protestant claims, equally 
under the guidance of God's Spirit, to have learned that she 
is unworthy of confidence, and when neither can prove, by 
miracles or any other decisive test, the superiority of the 
spiritual guidance which he professes to have himself re- 
ceived, what remains but to own that no certainty can be 
got from trusting to such supposed supernatural guidance, 
unless this illumination at the same time so enlighten the 
understanding as to enable it to give reasons for its faith 
which other men can perceive to be satisfactory ? 

The second rule of faith which Milner undertakes to show 
to be fallacious is the Bible : at least if each man is allowed 
to interpret it for himself. I think that most of the contro- 
versial victories that Roman Catholics win are owing to 
their being often wrongly met on the point now under dis- 
cussion. When a Roman Catholic says, * It is incredible 
that Christ should have left His people without an infallible 



guide, who shall secure them from all risk of error ; and no 
such guide can be found but the Church of Rome,' it is very 
common for a Protestant to reply, 'Nay, we have such a 
euide in the Bible/ But it is well that you should be pre- 
pared for the turn the discussion is then likely to take. In 
the first place, observe, it is one question whether the Bible is 
infallible; another whether it is, in the sense of Milner's 
requirements, an infallible guide. But even the first point 
the Roman advocates will not allow you to take for granted. 
I own that it is with a very bad grace they here assume the 
attitude of unbelievers ; for, whoever denies the infallibility 
of Scripture, they have no right to do so. If the Church be 
infallible, the Bible is so too ; for there is no article of 
Church doctrine held more strongly, or taught with greater 
unanimity, by the Church of all times, than the inerrancy of 
Scripture. Accordingly, in the discussions of the first Re- 
formers, the Bible was common ground to both parties, and 
the Reformers' proof that part of the teaching of the Church 
of Rome was erroneous consisted in showing that it was 
opposed to the Bible. But now the line taken by the 
Romanist advocate is to say, 'No matter what we believe 
about the Bible, what right have you, on your principles, to 
believe the same thing ?' 

Some of Milner's arguments are weak enough, and 
need not detain us long. For instance, he says that, 
* If our Lord had intended His people to learn His re- 
ligion from a book, He would have written it Himself, or, 
at least, have commanded His Apostles to write it ; and 
there is no evidence that He did any such thing' an argu- 
ment pointless against us, who believe, as he does himself, 
that the Scriptures were written by inspiration of God's Holy 
Spirit, and that the Three Persons of the Trinity are One. 
And the argument admits of a cruel retort. If Christ in- 
tended that His people should learn their religion from 
the Pope, He would have told them to obey the Pope, 
and listen to his instructions, or, at least, He would 
have commissioned His Apostles to do so ; but in all the 
recorded words of either our Lord or His Apostles, and in all 


their surviving letters, there is not a word about the Pope, 
from one end to the other. But, dismissing this and some 
other manifestly weak arguments, the Romanist advocate 
asks the Protestant : * If the Scriptures are your sole rule of 
faith, how do you learn what are the Scriptures ? Where do 
you find a text of Scripture to give you information on this 
point ? If you say you receive certain hooks because they 
xvere written by Apostles, is that a ground for accepting 
them as infallible ? The Apostles were fallible as men : how 
do you know they were infallible as writers ? And, in any 
case, you receive the Gospels of Mark and Luke, who were 
not Apostles, and you reject the Epistle of Barnabas, who 
was. Then, how do you know that the text has been pre- 
served rightly ?' Even the biblical criticism of Milner's day 
afforded him some instances of doubtful readings, as, for 
instance, the text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses, and the 
fact that, in the Prayer Book version of the fourteenth Psalm, 
there are some verses not to be found in the Bible. But if 
the Bible is a secure guide to anyone, it is not so to the 
unlearned. If they can even read, they only know the Bible 
is a translation ; and Milner asks them, * How do you know 
that the English version which you use is a correct transla- 
tion ?' Of course the recent publication of the Revised New 
Testament would supply a Roman Catholic controversialist 
with instances enough where he could maintain that it had 
been now proved that readings or translations hitherto in use 
among us were erroneous. Having in this way tried to show 
that there was too much uncertainty about the Bible to allow 
it to serve the office of a sure guide, Milner goes on to say, even 
if the book itself is infallible, it is not so as a guide : that is 
to say, it does not ensure those who follow its guidance from 
risk of error. This appears from the great differences of 
opinion between persons who all profess to have taken their 
religion from the Bible, and whom we cannot in charity be- 
lieve to have been insincere in their profession of having 
honestly tried to follow its guidance. These persons who 
disagree among themselves cannot all be right. It is plain, 
therefore, that the Bible, if there be no authorized interpreter, 

G 2 


does not suffice as a guide, in following which there is no 
danger of going wrong. Well, I think that, without dis- 
cussing the other difficulties raised by Milner, the last argu- 
ment, founded on the different results arrived at by students 
of the Scriptures, is enough to establish his case that the 
Bible as a guide does not fulfil the conditions which his 
axioms impose. 

Having set aside these two fallacious rules, Milner pro- 
pounds what he asserts to be the true rule, namely : to the 
written Word of God to add the unwritten ; that is to say, to 
Scripture to add tradition, and to both to add the Church as 
an authorized interpreter of the true meaning of the Word of 
God. Milner abstains from applying to this rule the same 
searching criticism he had applied to the two others, appa- 
rently satisfied with the argument that as the other two rules 
were wrong, this must be the right one ; but if I could go 
fully into the discussion, it would easily appear that this rule 
fails as completely as the two others to satisfy the prescribed 
conditions. One of Milner' s conditions, you will remember, 
is, * This rule must be secure, never-failing, by which those 
persons who sincerely seek for Christ's religion shall cer- 
tainly find it.' Well, in the first place, in spite of this rule, 
more than half of the seekers (and it would be uncharitable 
to think that the bulk of them are not sincere) have not found 
it. A guide is useless if those who want his services cannot 
make him out. Imagine that a gentleman, who lived in the 
country at a distance from a railway station, gave an enter- 
tainment to his friends. It would be natural that he should 
make provision that, on their arrival at the station, they 
should be enabled to find his house. But when they arrive 
they find a number of competing carmen, all professing to be 
able to conduct them safely ; but, as things turn out, half of 
them are taken wandering over the country, and never reach 
the house at all. The entertainer tells the disappointed 
guests, It was all your own fault : I had a servant at the 
station, and you ought to have known him.' But whosesoever 
fault it was, the actual result shows that the measures he took 
for their guidance were neither certain nor never-failing. 


Again, the Bible is said to be inadequate as a rule, because 
there are so many differences of opinion between those who 
profess to follow its guidance. Are there no differences be- 
tween those who profess to follow the guidance of the Church 
of Rome ? It would lead me too far if I were to speak in 
detail of the internal dissensions in the Roman communion. 
One case, however, is striking enough to be brought before 
you. Bossuet is the writer who may be said to have made 
his own the argument against Protestantism derived from the 
disagreements of its several sects. His work called The 
Variations of the Protestant Churches, published at the end of 
the seventeenth century, was the most popular book of con- 
troversy of his day, and was esteemed by Roman Catholics 
as a triumphant success. In this he infers that the Protes- 
tant Churches have not the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from 
the differences that exist between various Churches, or be- 
tween the teaching of the same Church at one time and 

Many of the differences which Bossuet enumerates relate 
to very minute points which cannot be regarded as essential 
to salvation, and on which Christians might be well content 
to differ. But, indeed, a Protestant seldom feels himself 
much affected by the argument from variations, which he 
feels to be equally pointless whether he be disposed to make 
common cause with non-Episcopal sects or the reverse. In 
the former case he would say, c My differences with the ortho- 
dox Protestant sects relate merely to unimportant questions 
of discipline, and so forth ; but on all really vital questions 
we are thoroughly agreed. And Roman Catholics them- 
selves admit that union in essential matters is compatible 
with difference of opinion on points which superior authority 
has left open.' But, on the other hand, there is quite as good 
an answer for one who disowns the Dissenting sects alto- 
gether. He may say, ' What is it to me what is held by 
those people whom you class with me under the common 
name of Protestant ? I have nothing to say to them any 
more than you have. If it is an argument against me that 
Baptists and Quakers disagree with me, they do not agree 


any more with you.' In fact, there is nothing to prevent any 
sect from placing itself on one side, and all the rest of the 
world on the other, and contending that those who disagree 
with that sect show they are wrong by their disagree- 
ments among themselves. For instance, I do not see why 
this Roman Catholic argument might not be used by a mem- 
ber of the Established Church of England. He might say, 
* Dissenters plainly show that they are wrong by their 
differences among themselves. Protestant Dissenters ac- 
cuse us of believing too much, and Roman Catholic Dis- 
senters accuse us of believing too little. When such 
opposite charges are brought, it is plain we must be just 
right/ The fact is, what the existence of variations of belief 
among Christians really proves is, that our Master, Christ, 
has not done what Roman Catholic theory requires He should 
have done, namely, provided His people with means of such 
full and certain information on all points on which contro- 
versy can be raised, that there shall be .no room for difference 
of opinion among them. But it is ridiculous to build on these 
variations an argument for the superiority of one sect over 

But my purpose in now mentioning the subject is to tell 
how. Bossuet, whose name is specially connected with the 
argument from the variations of Protestantism, has himself 
become the most signal instance of the variations of Roman- 
ism. Bossuet was, in his time, * the Eagle of Meaux' : the 
terror of Protestant sectaries, the most trusted champion of 
his Church. But he fought for her not only against the 
Protestants, but against the theory of Infallibility, then called 
Ultramontane, because held on the other side of the moun- 
tains, but rejected by the Gallican Church. In another 
Lecture I shall speak more at length of the principles of 
Gallicanism and of its history. Suffice it here to mention 
that one of its fundamental doctrines was, that the doctrinal 
decisions of the Pope were not to be regarded as final ; that 
they might be reviewed and corrected, or even rejected, by a 
General Council or by the Church at large. A formal treatise 
of Bossuet in proof of this principle was a storehouse of argu- 


ments, largely drawn on in the controversies of the years 
1869-70. But this principle of his was condemned with an 
anathema at the Vatican Council of the latter year. 

Now observe, this was not a difference of opinion on a 
minor point some point on which the guide had given no 
instruction, and with respect to which, therefore, his followers 
were free to take their own course. The question here at 
issue was the vital one who the guide was that was to be fol- 
lowed. A man does not follow another as his guide, though 
he may be walking along the same road, if he takes that road 
only because he himself thinks the road to be the right one, 
And so, though on a number of questions Bossuet might side 
against the Protestants and with the Pope of his day, it is 
plain that he was not, on principle, following the Pope's 
guidance : consequently, Bossuet is treated by the predomi- 
nant Roman Catholic school of the present day as no better 
than a Protestant. Just as he himself had argued that outside 
the Roman Church there was no truth or consistency, and 
that Protestantism was but an inconsistent compromise with 
infidelity, so Cardinal Manning says nearly the same things 
of that theory of Gallicanism of which Bossuet was the ablest 
defender. ' It \vas exactly the same heresy,' Manning declares^ 
' which in England took the form of the Reformation, and in 
France that of Gallicanism.' Dr. Brownson's JRcvtew, the 
chief organ of American Romanism, treated Bossuet's opi- 
nions with even less ceremony. It said, * Gallicanism was 
always a heresy. The Gallicans are as much alien from the 
Church or Commonwealth of Christ as are Arians, Lutherans, 
Calvinists, Anabaptists, Methodists, Spiritists, or Devil-wor- 

Could the irony of events give a more singular refu- 
tation than this ? A man writes a book to prove that 
Protestantism is false because Protestants disagree among 
themselves, and Romanism is true because its doctrines are 
always the same, and its children never disagree ; and in a 
few years he is himself classed with Devil-worshippers by the 
most accredited authorities of the religion which he defends, 
and whose doctrines he supposes himself, and is supposed by 


everyone else at the time, most thoroughly to understand. 
For all we can tell, the Romanist champions of the present 
day may be in no better case. Can Cardinal Manning be 
secure that, as the development of Roman doctrine proceeds, 
he may not be left stranded outside the limits of orthodoxy, 
and be classed with Devil-worshippers by the Romanist 
champions of the next century ? 

We seem now to have arrived at a most uncomfortable 
conclusion. We have agreed that Christ must have given 
His people some rule, and we have tried all the rules that 
have been proposed, and found that all must be pronounced, 
on Milner's principles, fallacious. We are forced, then, to try 
back on Milner's axioms, and see whether we were not over 
hasty in admitting them. You will find on examination that 
Milner's argument, in substance, reduces itself to this : There 
is an infallible guide somewhere no one claims to be that 
guide but the Church of Rome, therefore it must be she. When 
you ask, How do you know that there is an infallible guide 
somewhere ? he answers, That is a proposition of which no 
rational Christian can doubt. I have already told you, 
whenever you want to make an argument in favour of a false 
opinion, to prove laboriously any true propositions it may be 
convenient to you to make use of ; but to get quickly over the 
false propositions you introduce, treating them as self-evident 
principles which no rational person can dispute. I have 
already expressed my opinion that if you concede Milner his 
axioms, and then try to take your stand on the Bible as a 
guide which satisfies the conditions which these axioms im- 
pose, you will certainly be defeated. But, in real truth, Milner 
might have spared himself the trouble of writing the rest of 
his book, when he begins by taking for granted that God has 
provided us with an infallible guide, or, to use his own words, 
with 'a never- failing rule, which is never liable to lead a 
sincere inquirer into error of any kind.' Observe the mon- 
strous character of the claim. We are to be supernaturally 
guarded not merely against deadly error, but against error 
of any kind. But, in truth, this monstrous claim is absolutely 
necessary in order to make out Milner's case ; for we should 


not want the help of the Church of Rome if we might be con- 
tent in matters of religion with that homely kind of certainty 
which is all that God gives us for the conduct of the most im- 
portant affairs of life : an assurance that may well be called 
certainty as to substantial matters, shading off to high proba- 
bility when we descend to the leading details, and leaving 
room for doubt and difference of opinion when we come down 
to subordinate details. I do not see how any Roman Catholic 
can seriously defend Milner's axiom unless he first mend it 
by claiming supernatural protection, not against error of any 
kind, but error inconsistent with holding the truths necessary 
to salvation. I shall not quarrel with anyone for holding that 
if God required men to believe certain doctrines on pain of 
damnation, He would propound these truths so plainly that 
no one should be able to mistake them. This is a maxim of 
which I have already taken the benefit against the Church of 
Rome. For, while it is said that Christians are bound, under 
pain of damnation, to submit to the Church of Rome, that 
doctrine has been taught so obscurely that more than half 
the Christian world has not been able to find it out. But we 
say that the revelation God has given us is, in essential mat- 
ters, easy to be understood. Roman Catholics dwell much on 
the difficulty of understanding the Scriptures, and quote St. 
Peter's saying, that the Scriptures contain many things diffi- 
cult and ' hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned 
and unstable wrest to their own destruction.' But we say that 
the obscurities of Scripture do not hide those vital points, the 
knowledge of which is necessary to salvation ; and we have 
the authority of many ancient fathers to support us in so 
thinking. Chrysostom, for instance, says * all things are plain 
and simple in the Holy Scriptures ; all things necessary are 
evident.'* 'The Apostles and Prophets have made all things 
proceeding from them plain and evident to all ; in order that 
each person, even by himself, may be able to learn what is 
said from the mere reading of it.'f He gives this as a reason 
why God chose men in humble station to be the writers of 

* In 2 T/tess., Horn. III., vol. xi., p. 528. 
t Horn. III., de Las., vol. i., p. 379. 


books of Scripture. In like manner, says St. Augustine, 
' God hath made the Scriptures to stoop to the capacities of 
babes and sucklings.'* ' Scarcely anything is drawn out from 
the more obscure places of Scripture which is not most plainly 
spoken elsewhere.'f Accordingly, when any of the early 
Fathers has occasion to make an enumeration of the truths 
which Christians ought to know, he usually contents himself 
with a summary of doctrines nearly identical with that con- 
tained in the Apostles' Creed, all the Articles of which contain 
truths that lie on the very surface of Scripture, and do not re- 
quire any laborious investigation of texts in order to arrive at 

But, for thus holding that the list of truths necessary to be 
known in order to salvation is short and simple, we have the 
authority of the Roman Church herself. No one is so unrea- 
sonable as to expect ordinary members of the Church to be 
acquainted with all the decisions of Popes and Councils, in 
the correctness of which they are nevertheless obliged to 
believe. Take only one Council the Council of Trent. Has 
any Roman Catholic that is not a professed theologian, 
studied its decrees r If an unlearned Roman Catholic were 
asked to explain the doctrines of Justification and Original 
Sin, steering clear of Lutheranism on the one hand and of 
Pelagianism on the other, taking care not to give any coun- 
tenance to the Jansenists, but also taking care not to fall foul 
of St. Augustine, we may be sure that if he was mad enough 
to undertake the task, he would not go far in his statement 
without finding himself involved in some of the anathemas of 
which that Council was so liberal. There are, on a rough 
calculation, one hundred and fifty doctrines condemned by it, 
with a formal anathema. An anathema is, in fact, the way 
by which the Council indicates that the doctrine which it 
propounds is ' de fide.' 

But an unlearned person is not expected even to under- 
stand the terms in which the doctrine is conveyed. Dr. 
Newman has been so good as to furnish me with an example. 

* Enarr. in Psalm, viii. 8, vol. iv., p. 42. 
t De Doct. Chr. ii. 8, vol. iii., p. 22. 


What sense, he asks, can a child or a peasant, nay, or any 
ordinary Catholic, put upon the Tridentine Canons, even in 
translation, such as ' Si quis dixerit homines, sine Christi 
justitia per quam nobis meruit justificari, aut per earn ipsam 
formaliter justos esse, anathema sit.' Yet these doctrinal 
enunciations, he adds, are de fide. Peasants are bound to 
believe them as well as controversialists, and to believe them 
as truly as they believe our Lord to be God. * I do not know 
that the canons of the Council, held since Newman's book 
was written, are more intelligible to the unlearned ; for ex- 
ample, ' Si quis dixerit deum esse ens universale seu indefi- 
nitum quod sese determinando constituat rerum universitatem 
in genera species et individua distinctam, anathema sit.' Of 
these, and such like propositions, which an unlearned Roman 
Catholic is bound to believe, he is not in the least expected 
to know even the meaning. The decisions of councils are 
intended for the instruction of those who make theology their 
study, and not for that of ordinary members of the flock. 
While the Church does her duty in providing scientific theo- 
logians with a guide to any of the bye-paths of theology they 
may be tempted to explore, she does not invite the unlearned 
to enter into these mazes ; and the great doctrines of the 
Gospel constitute the broad highway of salvation, plain, easy 
to be found, and in which the least learned member of the 
Church can walk without fear of error. According to Roman 
Catholic teaching, an individual member of the Church is for- 
bidden to reject any doctrine taught by the Church ; but he 
is not bound to know all that she teaches. He must believe 
that she teaches true doctrines, but he need not know what 
these doctrines are. The list of doctrines which he is bound 
to knoiv, as well as to believe, is (as we shall presently see) a 
very short one. 

The distinction which I have just stated is sometimes 
expressed as a distinction between explicit and implicit belief. 
When you accept any truth, you take it with all its conse- 
quences, though you may never have drawn them out, and 
do not know all that is involved in the assent you have given. 

* Grammar of Assent, p. 142. 


When you believe that the Church cannot err, in that belief 
is involved, as a necessary consequence, belief in all that the 
Church has taught, or may at any time teach, however igno- 
rant of her actual teaching you may be. Now though, ac- 
cording to Roman theory, faith in the Church's teaching is 
necessary to salvation, that faith need not be explicit. Im- 
plicit faith is when a person is persuaded that the teaching 
of the Church is all true, though he imperfectly knows what 
that teaching is ; explicit faith, when he, besides, has an in- 
telligent knowledge of the doctrines in which he believes. 
The best illustration of implicit faith is afforded by the story 
of Fides Carbonarii. The story, in some shape, you have pro- 
bably heard ; but you may as well hear it in its original form 
as told by Cardinal Hosius.* The Cardinal is proving that if 
you trust only in Scripture, you must be worsted in every 
conflict with the devil, who can argue out of it much better 
than you ; and he tells a story of a poor collier who when 
asked by a learned man what he believed, repeated the 
Creed, and, when asked what more he believed, answered, 

* I believe what the Church believes.' * And what does the 
Church believe ? ' * The Church believes what I believe.' 

* And what do the Church and you both believe r ' ' The 
Church and I believe the same thing.' The learned man was 
disposed to smile at the collier's simplicity. But some time 
after, when he was on his death-bed, Satan tempted him 
with assaults on his faith, to parry which all his learning 
was vain, and, every time the Evil One questioned him how 
he believed, he was glad to reply, * ut carbonarius.' 

.Such faith as this is held to be sufficient for salvation. It 
is enough if the individual humbly receives all that is pro- 
pounded to him on God's authority, and does not, in the pride 
of his reason, reject truths that he knows to be part of Divine 
revelation ; and he is not to be blamed if he does not expli- 
citly hold doctrines which he has never been properly in- 
formed were part of God's revelation through the Church. 
Nay, he may hold two opposite doctrines, the one explicitly, 
the other implicitly. He may have formed his own opinion 

* Confutatio Brentii, lib. iii., De Auctor. Sac. Scrip. 


on a point of doctrine, without being aware that his view had 
been condemned by the Church, and he may be, at the same 
time, fully desirous to believe all that the Church teaches. 
In this case, it is held, his implicit true faith will save him, 
notwithstanding his explicit false faith ; or, as the distinction 
is otherwise expressed, though he hold material heresy, he 
is not formally heretical. It is in this way that the early 
Fathers are defended when their language is directly opposed 
to decisions since made by Rome. Cyprian may oppose the 
supremacy of the Roman See ; Chrysostom may use language 
directly opposed to Transubstantiation ; elsewhere he may 
impute sin to the Virgin Mary; Bernard may vehemently 
oppose the doctrine that she was conceived without sin. But 
these Fathers are held to be excused, because in their time 
the Church had not spoken distinctly. They would, no doubt, 
have spoken as she does now, if they had been privileged to 
hear her voice expressed on the questions referred to. In 
will they agreed with the Church, and would have been 
pained to dissent from her, though their actual expressions 
be directly opposed to her doctrine. 

I cannot help remarking, in passing, how this theory re- 
presents the Church, not as helping men on their heavenly 
way, but as making the way of salvation more difficult. 
Every interposition of her authority closes up some way to 
heaven which had been open before. A couple of hundred 
years ago a Roman Catholic might believe, without hazard of 
salvation, that the Virgin Mary either was or was not conceived 
without sin. Leading men were arrayed on both sides. But 
since Pius IX., in 1852, promulgated the dogma of the Imma- 
culate Conception, no one can call it in question, on peril of 
forfeiting his salvation. So, in like manner, of the dogma of 
the Pope's personal infallibility, and a host of other questions. 
Xow, we could understand the Church's office if the case was 
this, that a knowledge of certain doctrines being necessary to 
salvation, the Church was appointed to publish these doc- 
trines so plainly that none could mistake them. But the case 
is just the reverse. The guidance of the Church is represented 
as needed, not for the publication of truths in themselves 


necessary to be known, but for the solution of problems raised 
by speculative theologians, with respect to which it might 
have been free to men to hold either view if the Church had 
but held her peace. Suppose that we were starting on a 
mountain expedition, and that a professed guide beset us with 
clamorous representations of the absolute necessity of engag- 
ing his services. There was a multitude of misleading paths, 
there were precipices, snowdrifts, concealed crevasses : it 
was certain death to venture over the pass without a guide. 
Suppose that when, on these representations, we had engaged 
his services, he told us that we had nothing to do but follow 
the great, broad path before us ; that there were, indeed, many 
intricate side-paths, but that into these we need not enter; the 
only essential point being that we should be persuaded that 
he could guide us safely through them. In such a case, I 
think we should feel that we had been swindled out of our fee 
on false pretences, and that, instead of our absolutely wanting 
a guide, the truth was that it was the guide who absolutely 
wanted us. And our faith in the guide would be a little tried 
if, when we came to a place where two paths diverged, and 
asked him which we were to follow, he replied, that if he had 
not been there to direct us, we might have safely taken either 
way, as many had already got safe to their journey's end by 
both roads ; but that now we had heard him direct us to take 
one path, we should certainly come to grief if we took the 

You may naturally inquire what is the actual practice of 
the Church of Rome, with regard to insisting on an actual 
knowledge of certain truths, in addition to the general know- 
ledge that the Church is able to teach rightly concerning 
them. It is clear that lay people are not to be sent off 
to explore the huge folios which contain the decrees of 
councils. What is it that for their soul's health they are 
obliged to know? A popular little manual circulated by 
thousands, and called, What every Christian must kncxv, 
enables us to answer this question. It tells us that every 
Christian must know the four great truths of faith, namely : 
I. There is one God. II. In that God there are Three Persons. 


III. Jesus became man and died for us. IV. God will reward 
the good in heaven, and punish the wicked in hell.' This 
list of necessary truths is not long, but some Roman Catho- 
lics have contended that it might be shortened ; pointing out 
that since men were undoubtedly saved before Christ's com- 
ing without any explicit faith in the Incarnation or in the 
doctrine of the Trinity, an explicit faith in these doctrines 
cannot be held to be necessary to salvation.* Nor does such 
faith seem to be demanded in a certain papal attempt to 
define the minimum of necessary knowledge. Pope Innocent 
IV., in his Commentary on the Decretals, lays down that it 
is enough for the laity to attend to good works ; and, for the 
rest, to believe implicitly what the Church believes. Those 
who have the cure of souls must distinctly know the articles 
cf the Creeds. Bishops ought to know more, being bound to 
give a reason to everyone who asks it. For the lower clergy, 
who have neither leisure for study nor money to bear its 
expense, it will be enough if they learn as much as the laity 
and a little more. For instance, as being constantly em- 
ployed in attendance on the altar, they ought to know that 
the Body of Christ is made in the Sacrament of the Altar. 
And if they have the means of paying teachers, it would be 
a sin if they did not acquire more explicit knowledge than 
the laity.f 

Although, in the first editions of Father Furniss's little 
manual, which I have already mentioned, only the four great 
truths of faith are declared to be necessary to be known ; the 
later editions add the doctrine of the Sacraments, namely 
* Baptism takes away original sin ; Confession takes away 
actual sin ; and the Blessed Sacrament is the body and blood 
of Christ.' But take this list of necessary truths at the 
longest, and it certainly has the merit of brevity. And we 
may think it strange that a modern writer has succeeded in 
doing what the writers of the New Testament tried to do, and 

* This view is taken by Gury, Compendium of Moral Theology, i. 124, quoted 
by Littledale, Plain Reasons, p. 75. 

t Innocent IV., Co mm. in Librutn Priinum Decretalium, lib. I., cap. i., sects. 

2, 3. 6 - 


are said to have failed in. It was certainly the object of the 
New Testament writers to declare the truths necessary to 
salvation. St. John (xx. 31) tells us his object in writing 
' These are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the 
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life 
through His name/ Yet we are required to believe that these 
apostles and evangelists, who wrote under the inspiration 
of the Holy Ghost, performed their task so badly, that one 
who should have recourse to their pages for guidance is more 
likely than not to go astray, and is likely to find nothing but 
perplexity and error. Strange, indeed, that inspired writers 
should fail in their task : stranger still, that writers who claim 
no miraculous assistance should be able to accomplish it in half- 
a-dozen lines. But the main point is, that if the list of neces- 
sary truths is so short, the necessity for an infallible guide 
disappears. The four great truths of faith, just enumerated, 
are held as strongly by Protestants, who dispense with the 
guidance of the Church of Rome, as by those who follow it. 

The great argument by which men are persuaded to be- 
lieve that there is at least somewhere or another an infallible 
guide is, that it is incredible that God should leave us without 
sure guidance when our eternal salvation is at stake. It is 
thought that, if it is once conceded that an infallible guide 
exists somewhere, the case of Rome will be established by 
the absence of competition from anyone making a similar 
claim. Now, we saw that Milner's axiom was altogether 
extravagant. He demanded that God should miraculously 
secure men from error of any kind. Surely, it cannot be 
required that we should be given certain knowledge on all 
possible subjects ? All that with any plausibility can be de- 
manded is, that we should be guarded against error destructive 
of salvation. But now it is evident that infallible guidance 
cannot be asserted to be necessary, except in cases where 
explicit knowledge is necessary. If our readiness to believe 
all that God has revealed, without knowing it, is enough for 
our salvation, there is an end to the pretence that it was 
necessary to the salvation of the world that God should pro- 
vide means to make men infallibly know the truth. Here is 


a specimen of what Roman Catholics call an act of faith : 
* O my God, because Thou art true, and hast revealed it, I 
believe that Thou art One God ; I believe that in Thy God- 
head there are Three Persons ; I believe that Thy Son Jesus 
became man, and died for us ; I believe that Thou wilt reward 
the good in heaven, and punish the wicked in hell ; I believe 
all that the Catholic Church teaches ; and in this belief I will 
live and die.' In other words, this act of faith is a profession 
of explicit belief in the four great truths of faith, and of im- 
plicit belief in all the teaching of the Church. Now, substi- 
tute the word ' Bible 5 for the word * Church,' and a Protestant 
is ready to make the same profession. He will declare his 
belief in the four truths already enumerated, and in all that the 
Bible teaches. If a Roman Catholic may be saved who actually 
contradicts the teaching of his Church, because he did not in 
intention oppose himself to her, why may not a Protestant be 
saved, in like manner, who is sincerely and earnestly desirous 
to believe all that God has revealed in the Scripture, and 
who has learned from the Scripture those four great truths 
of faith, and many other truths which make wise unto salva- 
tion, even if there be some points on which he has wrongly 
interpreted the teaching of Scripture ? Have we not as good 
a right in this case as in the other to say that his mistaken 
belief will not be fatal to one who, notwithstanding his error, 
is of an humble, teachable disposition, and who does not 
wilfully reject anything that he knows God to have revealed ? 
In fact, if it were even true that a belief in Roman Infalli- 
bility is necessary to salvation, a Protestant would be safe. 
For, since he believes implicitly everything that God has 
revealed, if God has revealed Roman Infallibility, he believes 
that too. Thus the argument for the necessity of an infal- 
lible guide has no plausibility, unless, with regard to the 
absolute necessity to salvation of an explicit belief, we hold 
a theory far more rigid than even the Church of Rome has 
ventured to propound. 

There is, however, something more to be said before we 
can part with the discussion of Milner's axiom. 




IN the last Lecture I tried to show that, if Milner's axiom 
were limited to an assertion about saving truth that 
is to say, truth an explicit knowledge of which is neces- 
sary to salvation it would be perfectly useless to one de- 
sirous to establish the necessity of an infallible guide. I 
wish now to show that, if Milner's axiom be asserted not 
only with regard to truths necessary to salvation, but also 
to truths highly important and useful, then the axiom is 
not true. There is an immense amount of knowledge, both 
secular and religious, highly important for man to possess, 
but for which God has not seen fit to provide certain never- 
failing means whereby men may attain to it, and conse- 
quently which, as a matter of fact, many men do fail of 
obtaining. I am the more particular in stating this, because 
I should be sorry if the previous discussion had led you to 
think that I represented the great bulk of God's Revela- 
tion as useless, and that I taught that, provided a man be 
made acquainted with that minimum of knowledge which is 
absolutely necessary to salvation, it is a matter of small im- 
portance whether any further knowledge be communicated to 
him. I hold the gaining of such knowledge to be of the very 
highest use and importance ; but I say that all we know of 
God's dealings forbids us to take for granted that, because 
knowledge of any kind is of great value to man, God will 
make it impossible for him to fail to acquire it. 

There is one piece of vitally important knowledge which 
Roman Catholics must own God has not given men never- 
failing means for attaining : I mean the knowledge what is the 


true Church. They must own that the institution of an infal- 
lible Church has not prevented the world from being overrun 
with heresy. They do not number in their communion half of 
those who profess the name of Christ. We need only call to 
mind our own Church, with its important ramifications in Scot- 
land, the Colonies, and America; the dissenting bodies in Eng- 
land and America ; foreign Protestants in Scandinavia and 
Germany ; the Greek Church in Russia, and other Eastern 
communities. We need not discuss how much of essential 
truth is preserved by each of these bodies. Their very exist- 
ence shows that it is as hard to find the true Church as the 
true doctrine; for it would be grossly unfair to deny that 
there are among these different bodies many sincere in- 
quirers after truth. In whatever else these Churches dis- 
agree, they agree in denying that Rome has made out her 
claim to infallibility and supremacy. It is plain, then, that 
God has not endowed His Church with credentials so con- 
vincing as irresistibly to command men's assent ; and, ac- 
cording to Roman theory, He works a stupendous miracle 
in vain. To guard Christians against error, He works a 
perpetual miracle in order to provide them with an infallible 
guide to truth, and yet He neglects to furnish that guide 
with sufficient proof of his infallibility. Nay, He allows 
that infallibility to be wielded by men who have made them- 
selves so distrusted through deceit and imposture and other 
evil practices, that a prejudice is excited against their pre- 
tensions. This one consideration is sufficient to overturn the 
a priori proof that there must be an infallible guide, because 
we want one, and because it seems incredible that God 
should leave us without any means necessary for the attain- 
ment of religious truth. The proof equally shows that such 
a guide ought to be able to produce unmistakeable creden- 
tials ; and the claims of one who has been rejected by half 
the Christian world are by that very rejection disproved. 

But we may further show in the case of secular knowledge 
how much there is very desirable for us to possess, which God 
has given us no certain means of attaining. Man is left in 
a variety of cases to act on his own responsibility and to the 




best of his fallible judgment ; exposed to various dangers, and 
called on for the exercise of diligent care, which, in point of 
fact, very often is not exercised. No one who has read 
Butler's Analogy can be at a loss to expose the fallacy of 
inferring that because a thing seems to us desirable, God 
must therefore have constituted His world so that we shall 
be sure to have it. To quote one of his analogies, take the 
case of disease and the remedies for it. If we might have 
indulged our conjectures, we should have imagined that 
there would have been no such thing as disease in the 
world. But, at least, we might argue that, if God did, in His 
mercy, provide remedies for disease, these remedies would, 
to parody Milner's words, have been ' certain, never-failing, 
such, in short, as to free those who use them from ill-health 
of every kind'; and if a quack were to present himself, de- 
claring that such were the remedies he was possessed of, and 
that we ought to acknowledge the justice of his pretensions 
without examination, because no one else claimed to have 
such remedies as we should have expected God to provide 
for us, while he alone spoke with confidence, and never 
admitted the possibility of his falling into error ; such a 
quack would have all the titles to our obedience that the 
Church of Rome has, according to the arguments of many of 
its advocates, who seem to think that we are bound to receive 
him who talks biggest and brags loudest, and will not own 
that he may sometimes make a mistake. 

But analogy furnishes us with a still better answer to the 
Roman Catholic argument about Infallibility. One simple 
test will expose the fallacy of any of these arguments. Sub- 
stitute the word 'sin' for the word 'error,' and examine 
whether the argument will then lead to true conclusions. It 
is not only our own speculations that would lead us to think 
God would have provided means to banish sin from the 
world. The Scriptures would certainly, at first sight, lead 
us to conclude that it would, at least, be banished from the 
Church. There is not a single promise to the Church that 
does not speak even more distinctly of herjmembers being led 
into the ways of holiness than into the way of truth. The 
name 'holy' is the distinctive title of the Church, 'saints' 


that of her members. She is described as ' a glorious Church, 
not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.' And it is 
true that the Church has done this great work in the world, 
that she has made a degree of holiness possible, which was 
not so before : and not only possible, but common ; that 
being now ordinary among Christians which before had been 
only the attainment of some distinguished saints. But it is 
not true that this holiness is either perfect or universal. 
Roman Catholic historians themselves acknowledge the 
moral corruption which at times overspread the highest 
places of the Church, not excepting him whom they account 
its head. I will quote the well-known words with which 
Baronius begins his account of the tenth century : ' A new 
age begins, which, from its asperity and barrenness of good^ 
has been wont to be called the Iron Age ; from the deformity 
of its overflowing wickedness, the Leaden Age ; and, from 
its paucity of writers, the Dark Age. Standing on the 
threshold of which, we have thought it necessary to premise 
something, lest the weak-minded should be scandalized if he 
should happen to behold the abomination of desolation in the 
Temple. . . .* The case is plainly such, that scarcely anyone 
can believe, nay, scarcely ever shall believe, unless he see it 
with his own eyes, and handle it with his own hands, what 
unworthy, foul, and deformed, yea, what execrable and abo- 
minable things the sacred Apostolic See, upon whose hinge 
the universal Catholic Church turns, has been compelled to 

* In the passage which I here omit, Baronius turns it into an argument in favour 
of the Roman Church, that the fact that she survived a period which, according to 
all human calculation, ought to have been fatal to her, proves that she must have been 
under Divine protection. He borrowed this paradox from Boccaccio, who had pre- 
sented it in the shape of a tale about a Jew, who, being pressed to embrace Chris- 
tianity, declared his intention of visiting Rome, and judging of the religion by the 
lives of Christ's Vicar, his cardinals and bishops. His Christian friends were horrified, 
knowing that the spectacle of the sensuality, avarice, and simony which tainted all at 
Rome, from the least to the greatest, was better calculated to make a Christian turn 
Jew than a Jew become a Christian. But the Jewish visitor, on his return, presented 
himself for baptism, declaring himself convinced of the divinity of a religion which 
survived, notwithstanding that its chief ministers were doing their very best to destroy 
it. The popularity of this tale in pre-Reformation times shows that, if the Bishop 
of Rome was then believed to be a guide to truth, he was not imagined to be aa 
-example of moral purity. 

102 MILKER'S AXIOMS. [vi, 

suffer. O shame! O grief! how many monsters, horrible to 
be seen, were intruded by secular princes into that seat which 
is to be reverenced by angels; how many tragedies were 
consummated ; with what filth was it her fate to be spat- 
tered, who was herself without spot or wrinkle ; with what 
stench to be infected ; with what loathsome impurities to be 
defiled, and by these to be blackened with perpetual infamy ! ' 
And, again, the same historian writes (Ann. 912) : 'What was 
then the face of the Holy Roman Church r How most foul, 
when harlots, at once most powerful and most base, ruled at 
Rome, at whose will Sees were changed, bishops were pre- 
sented, and, what is horrible to hear and unutterable, pseudo- 
bishops, their paramours, were intruded into the See of St. 
Peter, who are enrolled in the catalogue of Roman pontiffs 
only for the sake of marking the times ! ' 

Thus, with respect to Christ's promises that the gates of 
hell should not prevail against His Church, that He would 
be with it always, even to the end of the world, and so forth, 
we see what they do not mean. We see that they contained 
no pledge that ungodliness should never assault His Church ; 
that overflowing wickedness should not abound in her ; nay, 
that monsters of impiety and immorality should not be seen 
sitting in her highest places. The question is, therefore, 
whether God hates error so very much more than He hates 
sin, that He has taken precautions against the entrance of 
the one which He has not seen fit to use in order to guard 
against the other. We hold that what He has done in both 
cases is strikingly parallel. First, His great gift to His people, 
that of the Holy Spirit, is equally their safeguard against sin 
and against error. He is equally the Spirit of Truth and the 
Spirit of Holiness. It is His office to inform our understand- 
ing, by taking of the things of Christ and showing them 
to us ; and to direct our wills, and make them conformed to 
that of Christ. And the means He uses for both ends are the 
same. The Scriptures are equally guides to truth and to holi- 
ness. They make us wise unto salvation. They are ' a light 
unto our feet, and a lamp unto our paths.' 'Wherewithal 
shall a young man cleanse his way r by taking heed thereto 
according to Thy word.' And the Church also is used by 


the Holy Ghost, both as a witness and guardian of Christian 
truth and an instructor in Christian morality. She has been 
called (and we shall afterwards see what good claim she has 
to the title) the * pillar and ground of the truth.' And she 
has certainly been in the world a preacher of righteousness. 
And yet the use of all these means has not banished either 
sin or error from the world. Even those ' who walk not 
after the flesh, but after the Spirit/ are still not impeccable. 
Signs of human frailty betray themselves in the conduct of 
men whom we must own to be good men not merely good 
with natural amiability, but really sanctified by the Spirit of 
God. And those who have so been guided are no more in- 
fallible than they are impeccable. In proportion, indeed, as 
they live close to God, and seek by prayer for the Spirit's 
guidance, so will their spiritual discernment increase. They 
whose will it is to do His will are made by Him to know of 
the doctrine whether it be of Him. But yet, as their holiness 
falls short of perfection, so also does their knowledge. * If 
we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves' ; and if we 
say that we have no error, we deceive ourselves no less. And 
since not only may individuals fall into sin, but, as is owned 
in the extract I have read from Baronius, ungodliness may 
overspread the Church widely ; so we see no reason to doubt 
that not only individuals may err, but Christians collectively, 
or large bodies of them, may make doctrinal mistakes. The 
analogy I have been insisting on between the understanding 
and the will, and the operations of God's Spirit on both, is of 
the utmost importance in this controversy. 

One great advantage of considering the difficulty of the 
existence of error in the Church in connexion with the great 
problem of the existence of evil in the world is that, while 
there is no reason in either case for doubting as to the matter 
of fact the existence of the evil complained of whatever 
considerations are available in the one case for mitigating 
the difficulty, and reconciling the evil which we see with the 
goodness of God, are available also in the other. 

Take, first, the physical evil which exists in the world. 
Great part of human suffering arises from an insufficient 

104 MILKER'S AXIOMS. [vi. 

supply of the natural wants of food and warmth. God could, 
if He had pleased, have either created us without these wants, 
or with a never-failing supply for them. If we ask why He 
has not done so, and why He has left it possible that men 
should perish of cold and famine, as thousands of our fellow- 
creatures have done, though we cannot completely solve the 
question, we can, at least, see this, that with God our comfort 
is subordinate to our education. It is the struggle to obtain 
a supply for these natural wants which has drawn forth the 
energies of man's nature. As Virgil tells us, the Father of 
all did not wish the way of sustenance to be too easy, ' curis 
acuens mortalia corda.' And, in point of fact, the human 
race has been singularly unprogressive in those tropical 
regions where there is little demand on man's energies ; and 
the greatest advances in civilization have been made in the 
sterner climates, where the conflict with nature has early 
elicited the employment of man's full powers. 

So, likewise, with regard to secular knowledge. God might 
have provided us from the first with a knowledge of all things 
needful ; but actually He has withheld a knowledge of much 
that is necessary for the safety and comfort of life. Many of 
the most useful parts of our present knowledge were long 
unknown to the world, and were reserved to stimulate and 
reward the pursuit of the successful inquirer. Our need of 
knowledge and our desire for it have been the means which 
God has used to develop in us all those faculties which have 
the discovery of truth for their object. And, as if to show how 
much less important in His eyes it is that we should possess 
knowledge than that we should be trained to seek for it, He 
has annexed a pleasure to the discovery of truth, distinct 
from, and higher than, that which attends its possession. I 
fear there is none of you who can have found in his study of 
geometry, or hydrostatics, or natural philosophy, such plea- 
sure as Pythagoras is said to have felt at the discovery of the 
forty-seventh proposition of the First Book of Euclid ; or 
Archimedes, when he rushed from the bath shouting out his 
ivpriica; or Newton, when his trembling hands could scarce 
complete the calculation which proved that it was the same 


force which keeps the moon in her orbit that draws an apple 
to the ground. Thus God, both with regard to body and 
mind, has dealt with us in such a way as if it were more 
important in His eyes that we should be trained to seek for 
the supply of needful wants than that we should actually 
obtain it : at least, while He stimulates us to the search, and 
rewards us if successful, He has not exempted us from the 
risk of failure. 

And God has dealt with us in the same way in things that 
pertain to the perfection of our moral nature. If we are per- 
plexed why He should not have excluded from His world the 
possibility of sin and vice, at least we can see that the virtue 
which has been braced and strengthened by conflict with 
temptation, and victory over it, is a thing of much higher 
order than the virtue which consists in the absence of temp- 
tation. And here, too, we perceive that God trains us and 
disciplines us for the higher excellence, even at the terrible 
risk which attends failure. Now, can it be made an objection 
to Revelation that it represents the Almighty as pursuing the 
same course with respect to religious truth that He has 
adopted in every other kind of truth ; or, rather, were it other- 
wise, would there not be a presumption that such a revelation 
did not proceed from the Author of nature r God has made 
the very importance of religious truth, not a reason for releas- 
ing us from all pains of investigation, but a motive to stimulate 
us more intensely to discipline ourselves in that candid, truth- 
loving frame of mind in which alone the search for truth is 
likely to be successful. How prejudicial an effect a contrary 
dispensation might have had on all our mental faculties, we 
have a striking proof in the different progress of mind in 
Protestant and Roman Catholic countries since the Refor- 
mation. And there is reason to infer that, when a Church sets 
up a claim for infallibility, the mischief done is not merely 
that such a Church can teach false doctrine without detection, 
but that even if a Church professing itself infallible actually 
did not teach a single doctrine that was not perfectly true, the 
religious condition of its members might be inferior to that of 
the members of our Church as much, and in the same way, as 


the civilization of a South Sea Islander is inferior to that of a 

We can see what a benumbing effect the doctrine of 
infallibility has on the intellects of Roman Catholics by the 
absence of religious disputes in that communion. They 
boast of this as a perfection ; but it is, in truth, a sign of 
deadness, a sign of the indifference of all to the subjects in 
question. Why is it that the question of the Immaculate Con- 
ception, which convulsed the Christian world four centuries 
ago, was disposed of by Pius IX. with scarcely a murmur r It 
was because the people did not care about the matter. The 
superstitious were glad to pay a compliment to the great 
object of their veneration, but whether what they asserted was 
true, I suppose hardly ten lay Roman Catholics in Europe 
ever troubled their heads. And if the question brought before 
the Vatican Council had been of a purely spiritual nature, 
had the bishops been only required to affirm such a doctrine 
as the Assumption of the Virgin Mary that is to say, to assert 
a historical fact without a particle of evidence I do not think 
many would have rebelled. It was because the doctrine of 
the Pope's personal Infallibility had bearings on the practical 
business of this world ; because its assertion was supposed to 
be intended for the preservation or recovery of the Pope's 
temporal sovereignty ; because the claim would enable him 
to interfere with more effect on questions of toleration, civil 
liberty, marriage, and education, that so much difficulty was 
made about conceding it. 

I cannot help quoting words written by Mr. Maskell, one 
of the early Oxford perverts, on the occasion of the decree of 
the Vatican Council. They express his natural indignation 
at seeing his whole Church rush blindfold into acquiescence 
in a decision which he knew to be false ; but he does not seem 
to have reflected that the state of mind which can acquiesce 
so indifferently in any decision of authority, is the natural 
result of that belief in the need of an infallible guide which 
led himself astray. He says : ' There are numbers of people 
who take on trust, without consideration, what they are asked 
to believe in matters of religion ; some from habit and want 


of discipline in their education; some from a dislike of trouble; 
some from what they pretend to be a proper subjection to their 
teachers, thus trying to throw upon others a responsibility for 
which themselves will have to answer to God hereafter ; some 
from sheer carelessness and want of interest; some, once more, 
because they do not comprehend what is involved in their 
assent. To call such an assent faith, is utterly to miscall it. 
There is very little faith in it. A state of mind which can 
admit so readily of additions to its creed would be very likely 
not long to withstand a demand to change it altogether.' 

This extract truly describes the practical effect of stunting 
men's intelligence, in the hope of making their faith more 
lively. The faith generated by such a process is found not 
to be worthy of the name. If any human system were to 
propose to keep men virtuous, by keeping them always in the 
state of childhood, and never permitting them to govern their 
own conduct, such a system would be plainly opposed to the 
course which the Author of nature has preferred. Equally 
opposed to His method is any system which proposes to pre- 
serve men from error by keeping them in the state of childhood,, 
and by giving them truths to be received on authority without 
inquiry. And it is opposed not only to the course of nature, but 
to the commands of Scripture, which enjoins us to be ' ready to 
give every man a reason of the hope that is in us' : 'in malice, 
indeed, to be children, but in understanding to be men.' 

A Romanist, as I have said, must acknowledge that the 
existence of an infallible Church does not exclude error from 
the world, for more than half of those who call themselves 
Christians unfortunately cannot be convinced of the claims of 
that Church on their allegiance. But, while the existence of 
error remains as distressing a problem to the Romanist as to 
us, he is deprived of the compensation which we find in the 
improved condition of those who have honestly sought for 
truth and been successful. The problem is the same to him 
as that of the existence of sin in the world would be to us, if 
while all the vice in the world remained the same, we could 
find nowhere examples of any higher kind of virtue than that 
which consists in the absence of temptation. 



ON the last day I sufficiently showed that the foundation 
for their system, which Roman Catholics assume as 
self-evident, namely, that God has appointed someone on 
earth able to give infallible guidance to religious truth, 
admits of no proof, and is destitute of all probability. But 
when we say that God has not provided us with infallible 
guidance, we are very far from saying that He has provided 
for us no guidance at all. I do not think a Protestant can 
render a greater service to the cause of Romanism than by 
depreciating the value of the guidance towards the attain- 
ment of religious truth given us by the Church which Christ 
has founded. * Hoc Ithacus velit.' This is the alternative 
they want to bring us to either an infallible Church, whose 
teaching is to be subject to no criticism and no correction, or 
else no Church teaching at all, each individual taking the 
Bible, and getting from it, by his own arbitrary interpreta- 
tion, any system of doctrine he can. Reducing us to this 
alternative, they have no difficulty in showing that the latter 
method inevitably leads to a variety of discordant error ; and 
they conclude we are forced to fall back on the other. 

But in what subject in the world is it dreamed that we 
have got to choose between having infallible teachers, or else 
having no teacher at all ? God has made the world so that 
we cannot do without teachers. We come into the world as 
ignorant as we are helpless : not only dependent on the care 
of others for food and warmth, without which neglected in- 
fancy must perish, but dependent on the instruction of others 
for our most elementary knowledge. The most original dis- 


coverer that ever lived owed the great bulk of his knowledge 
to the teaching of others, and the amount of knowledge 
which he has added to the common stock bears an infini- 
tesimally small proportion to that which he inherited. To 
think of being independent of the teaching of others, is as 
idle as to think of being independent of the atmosphere 
which surrounds us. Roman Catholic advocates can show, 
with perfect truth, that anyone who imagines he is drawing 
his system of doctrine all by himself from the Bible alone, 
really does nothing of the kind. Of course, if a man reads 
the Bible in a translation, he cannot imagine that he is inde- 
pendent of help from others. In any case, the selection of 
books that make the volume was made for him by others ; 
the reverence that he pays to its contents is due to instruc- 
tion which he received in his boyhood ; and, besides, it is 
undeniable that it is natural to us all to read the Bible in the 
light of the previous instruction we received in our youth. 
How else is it that the members of so many different sects 
each find in the Bible the doctrines they have been trained 
to expect to find there ? 

Human teaching, then, we cannot possibly do without in 
any subject whatever ; but are our teachers infallible ? I 
grant that, by children and ignorant persons, it is necessary 
that they should practically be regarded so. It is said that, 
when Dr. Busby showed Charles II. over Westminster School, 
he kept on his own hat, though the king was bareheaded, 
and explained to the monarch afterwards that he should lose 
all authority over his boys if they once found out that there 
was anyone in the kingdom greater than himself. Certain it 
is that boys will not respect a teacher if they find out that he 
is capable of making mistakes. And this frame of mind is the 
best for the pupil's progress. When our knowledge is scanty, 
it is more important that we should be receptive than critical ; 
or rather, if we attempt to be critical, we cannot be properly 
receptive. In the earliest stages, then, of instruction, a stu- 
dent makes most progress if he gets a teacher in whom he 
can put faith, and accepts from him with docility all the 
information he is able to impart to him. But you know that 


the teacher's infallibility is not real : it is only relative and 
temporary ; and an advanced student, instead of respecting a 
man more, respects him less if he pretends that he is in- 
capable of sometimes making a slip. It is a maxim with 
chess-players, if you meet a player who says he has never 
been beaten, to offer to give him the odds of the rook. And 
what is intended plainly is, that the delusion of invincibility 
can never grow up in the mind of anyone except one who 
has never met a strong antagonist. Just in the same way, 
the delusion of infallibility can never grow up except in the 
mind of one who only mixes with inferiors, and does not 
allow his opinions to be tested by independent criticism. 
And we may say the same of Churches as of individuals. 
An infallible Church does not mean a Church which makes 
no mistakes, but only one which will neither acknowledge its 
mistakes nor correct them. 

With respect to the teaching of secular knowledge, 
Universities have a function in some sort corresponding to 
that which the Church has been divinely appointed to fulfil 
in the communication of religious knowledge. If I said 
that University teaching of the mathematical and physical 
sciences was not infallible, you would not suspect me of 
being so ungrateful as to wish to disparage that teaching to 
which I owe all my own knowledge of these subjects. You 
would not suppose that I wished our students to receive 
with hesitation and suspicion the lessons of their instruc- 
tors. You would not suppose that I was myself in the 
least sceptical as to the substantial truth of what is taught in 
these lessons. And yet I could not help owning that Univer- 
sity teaching may possibly include errors, and must be willing 
to admit correction. Why, I could name one point of astro- 
nomical science in which it has altered within my own expe- 
rience. When I was taught the planetary theory, I was given 
a demonstration, which I accepted as conclusive, that the 
changes in the orbits of the planets caused by their mutual 
action were all of a periodic character, and could not over- 
throw the stability of the system. At present the contrary 
-opinion prevails, and it is held that the solar system is not 


constituted for eternal duration. In any case, no one can 
imagine that University teaching was infallible in those pre- 
Reformation days, when what was taught was the Ptolemaic 
system of astronomy. And yet it would be equally false to 
say that University teaching was even then of small value ; 
for I suppose the great reformer, Newton, could have made 
none of his discoveries if it had not been for the knowledge 
his University had taught him. 

Now, we have no right to assume as self-evident that the 
laws which govern the communication of religious knowledge 
must be utterly unlike those which regulate our acquirement 
of every other kind of knowledge. In every other department 
of knowledge we must assert the necessity of human teaching ; 
we must own that one who will not condescend to learn must 
be content to be ignorant ; we must hold that the learner 
must receive the teaching he gets with deference and sub- 
mission ; and yet we do not imagine that the teachers are 
infallible, and we maintain that the learner ought ultimately 
to arrive at a point when he is no longer dependent on the 
mere testimony of his instructors, but becomes competent to 
pass an independent judgment on the truth of the statements 
made to him. 

Improvements are made in metaphysics, political economy, 
and other sciences, not by persons who have thought out the 
whole subject for themselves, without help from others, but 
by those who, having been well instructed in what has been 
done already, then, by their own thought and study, correct 
the mistakes of their predecessors even of the very teachers 
from whom they have themselves learned. In fact, the whole 
progress of the human race depends on the two things human 
teaching, and teaching which will submit to correction. If 
there was no teaching there would be no progress, for each 
generation would start where its predecessor did, and there 
would be no reason why one should be more successful than 
another; and obviously there would be no progress if one 
generation was not permitted to improve on another. What 
actually happens is, that the new generation, rapidly learning 
from its predecessors, starts where they ended and is enabled 


to advance further and to start the next generation on still 
more favourable terms. 

There need be no difficulty now in coming to an agreement, 
that the divinely-appointed methods for man's acquirement 
of secular and of religious knowledge are not so very dis- 
similar. On the one hand, the finality and perfection of 
Church teaching which was the doctrine of the older school 
of Roman Catholic advocates is quite abandoned in the 
modern theory of development which has now become 
fashionable. That theory acknowledges that the teaching of 
the Church may be imperfect and incomplete ; and though it 
is too polite to call it erroneous, the practical line of distinc- 
tion between error and imperfection is a fine one and difficult 
to draw, as I could easily show by examples, if it were not 
that they would lead me too far from my subject. On the 
other hand we, for our part, are quite ready to admit that God 
did not intend us, in religious matters any more than in any 
other, to dispense with the instruction of others. We do not 
imagine that God meant each man to learn his religion from 
the Bible without getting help from anybody else. We freely 
confess that we need not only the Bible, but human instruction 
in it. And this need, we hold, was foreseen and provided for 
by the founder of our religion. He formed His followers into 
a community, each member of which was to be benefited by the 
good offices of the rest, and who, in particular, were to build up 
one another in their most holy Faith. More than this, He 
appointed a special order of men whose special duty it is to 
teach and to impress on the minds of the people the great 
doctrines of the Faith. In the institution of His Church, 
Christ has provided for the instruction of those who, either 
from youth or lack of time or of knowledge, might be unable 
or unlikely to study His Word for themselves. 

Let me just remind you of the stock topics of declamation 
of Roman Catholics on the theme that Christ intended us to 
learn His religion, not from the Bible but from the Church. 
The first Christians, they tell us, did not learn their religion 
from books. There were flourishing Churches before any 
Book of the New Testament was written. The first Christians 


were taught by the living voice of apostles and evangelists 
and preachers. Since their time thousands upon thousands 
of good men have gone to heaven in ignorance of the Bible ; 
for, before printing was discovered, books were scarce and the 
power of reading them uncommon. Even in our own time 
the illiterate are numerous ; yet who will venture to deny 
that many, ignorant of the knowledge of this world, may be 
possessed of the knowledge that maketh wise unto salvation ? 
All these have learned their religion from the Church, not the 
Bible. When those who can read take up the Bible, they find 
it is not a book adapted for teaching our religion to those who 
do not know it already. The writers of the New Testament 
were all addressing men who had been previously instructed 
orally : and an acquaintance with the doctrines of the Gospel 
on the part of the reader is therefore assumed. The Bible 
itself contains no systematic statement of doctrine, no ex- 
amples of the catechetical instruction given to the early 
converts. Of many most important doctrines you do not find 
the proof on the very surface of the Bible : you have to study 
the Scripture attentively to find it out ; and it may well be 
doubted whether, in some cases, you would have ever found 
it if the Church had not pointed it out to you. 

All this (to which much more of the same kind might be 
added) would be very difficult to answer, if we imagined it was 
any part of Christ's scheme to make us independent of the 
good offices of our fellow-men in learning our religion ; but it 
goes idly by us who cheerfully acknowledge that Christ 
foresaw our need of human instruction, and provided for it, 
not only by the ordinary dispensations of His Providence, but 
by the institution of His Church, whose special duty it is to 
preserve His truth and proclaim it to the world. I need 
scarcely say how well this duty has been performed ; how 
fully the Church provided, in her formularies and by the 
labour of her ministers, for the instruction of those who might 
be either unwilling or unable to obtain it otherwise. The 
illiterate may, through her, learn those truths which make wise 
unto salvation ; the careless may have them forced on their 
attention : even the most learned have, by her means, their 



study of God's Word aided to a greater degree than they are, 
perhaps, themselves aware of. Ever since the Church was 
founded, the work she has done in upholding the truth has 
been such, that the words 'pillar and ground of the truth' are 
not too strong to express the services she has rendered. She 
has preserved the Scriptures, and borne witness to their 
authority ; she has, by her public reading, forced her members 
to become acquainted with them ; she has embodied some of 
their most important doctrines in creeds which she has taught 
to her members. Even in the times when her teaching was 
mixed with most error she preserved the means of its correc- 
tion. There was no new revelation of Divine truth made at the 
Reformation : it was by means of the Bible, which the Church 
had never ceased to honour, and through the instrumentality 
of regular clergy of the Church, and by reviving the memory 
of lessons taught by some of its most eminent teachers in 
former days, that the Reformation was brought about. 

Nor do I hesitate to acknowledge the services rendered 
by the Church in the interpretation of Scripture. We need 
not hesitate to grant, in the case of the Bible, what we should 
grant in the case of any profane author. Were the object of 
our study an ordinary classical writer, an interpreter who, 
devoid of all sobriety of judgment, should scorn to study the 
opinions of the wise and learned men who had preceded him 
would be likely to arrive at conclusions more startling for 
their novelty than valuable for their correctness. Again, 
if the subject of our study were the opinions of a heathen 
philosopher, we should not refuse to consider the question, 
what was supposed to be his doctrine by the school which 
he founded ? not that we should suppose their tradition to 
be more trustworthy authority as to the doctrines of their 
master than his own written statements. We might think it 
more likely than not, that a succession of ingenious men 
would add something of their own to what had been originally 
committed to them ; and yet we should not think it right to 
refuse to listen to the tradition of the school as to the doctrine 
of its founder to listen with attention, though not with blind 


But, when every concession to the authority of the Church 
and to the services she has rendered has been made, we come 
very far short of teaching her infallibility. A town clock is 
of excellent use in publicly making known with authority the 
correct time making it known to many who, perhaps, at no 
time, and certainly not at all times, would find it convenient 
or even possible to verify its correctness for themselves. And 
yet it is clear, that one who maintained the great desirability 
of having such a clock, and believed it to be of great use to 
the neighbourhood, would not be in the least inconsistent if 
he also maintained that it was possible for the clock to go 
astray, and if, on that account, he inculcated the necessity of 
frequently comparing it with, and regulating it by, the dial 
which receives its light from heaven. And if we desired to 
remove an error which had accumulated during a long season 
of neglect, it would be very unfair to represent us as wish- 
ing to silence the clock, or else as wishing to allow every 
townsman to get up and push the hands back or forward as 
he pleased. 

In sum, then, I maintain that it is the office of the Church 
to teach : but that it is her duty to do so, not by making 
assertion merely, but by offering proofs ; and, again, that 
while it is the duty of the individual Christian to receive with 
deference the teaching of the Church, it is his duty also not 
listlessly to acquiesce in her statements but to satisfy himself 
of the validity of her proofs. 

I said, in a former Lecture, that the true analogy to the 
relation between a Christian teacher and his pupils is not that 
between a physician and his patients, but rather that between 
a physician and the class of students whom he is teaching 
medical science. A simple test will show that this was the 
view practically taken by the early Fathers. We never hear 
the captain of a ship going among the passengers and implor- 
ing them to study the charts, and not take his word that they 
are in the right course, but convince themselves of their true 
position. A physician does not exhort his patients to study 
their own case out of medical books ; on the contrary, he 
would be sorry to see them perplexing themselves with a 

I 2 


study which could do them no good, but, on the contrary, might 
stand in the way of their obediently following his directions. 
But exhortation to study, of this kind, you will hear from a 
medical lecturer to the students whom he is teaching the 
profession. He will frankly tell them the reasons for the 
course of treatment which he advises ; he will not ask them 
to receive anything merely on his authority; he will give 
them references to the best authors who have written on the 
same subject. He talks in this way to his class never to the 
patients on whom he practises ; so, in like manner, it would 
be the duty of the rulers of an infallible Church to exhort the 
people to receive their doctrines without question ; but not to 
exhort them to examine the grounds on which the doctrine 
was established. 

If, in fact, the Church be infallible, it is impossible to under- 
stand why the Bible was given. It cannot be of much use in 
making men wise unto salvation, for that the Church is sup- 
posed to do already. But it may be used by the ignorant and 
unstable to pervert it to their own destruction. If a Christian, 
reading the Bible for himself, puts upon it the interpretation 
which the Church puts upon it, he is still no better off than 
if he had never looked at it, and had contented himself with 
the same lessons as taught by the Church ; but if he puts 
upon it a different interpretation from that of the Church (and 
if the Church be infallible, her interpretation is right and 
every other wrong), then he is deeply injured by having been 
allowed to examine for himself. Thus, if the Church be infal- 
lible, Bible reading is all risk and no gain. And so, in 
modern times the Church of Rome has always discouraged 
the reading of the Scriptures by her people ; and if her theory 
be right, she has done so consistently and wisely. And there- 
fore I say it is a proof that this theory was not held in ancient 
times, when we find that the early Fathers had no such 
scruples, but incessantly urged on their congregations the 
duty of searching the Scriptures for themselves. 

I will take one Father as an example St. Chrysostom ; 
and there is no unfairness in my choosing him, for I do so 
only on account of his eloquence and vigour. You will find 


the same sentiments, though perhaps less forcibly expressed, 
in every early Father. My quotations from him will serve a 
double purpose : both to prove the point on which I am im- 
mediately engaged that at that time Christian teachers, 
instead of asking their people to receive their statements on 
the authority of an infallible Church, urged them to consult 
for themselves the sources of proof and also to prepare the 
way for the next point in the controversy, namely, that 
the sources of proof used were exclusively the Holy Scrip- 

Now, on the first inspection of Chrysostom's works, you see 
that they were composed for people who had the Bible in 
their hands. The great bulk of his works consists of reports 
of his sermons ; and, as a general rule, these sermons are not 
of the kind of which we have so many excellent examples at 
the present day : expositions of doctrine, or exhortations to 
holy living, with a Scripture text prefixed as a motto ; but 
they are systematic expositions of Scripture itself. The 
preacher takes a book of the Bible and goes regularly through 
it, lecturing on it, verse by verse. Preaching of this kind 
would evidently have no interest except for men who had the 
Bible in their hands, and wished for a guide to enable them 
to understand it better. We have expositions of this kind in 
the works of several of the most eminent Fathers, both Greek 
and Latin. But indeed, in the case of the Latin Fathers, we 
require no elaborate proof that the Church then, so far from 
desiring to check the study of the Scriptures, placed them in 
the hands of the people, and encouraged them to read them. 
The existence of the Latin translation, dating from an early 
part of the second century, is evidence enough of this fact. For 
whose benefit can we suppose that that translation was made ? 
The knowledge of Greek was then the accomplishment of 
every educated Roman. It would have been far harder then 
to find a Roman gentleman who did not understand Greek 
than it would be now to find an English gentleman who does 
not know either Latin or French. The Bible was translated 
into Latin, because the Latin Church, in those days, wished 
that not merely the wealthy, and the highly educated, but 


that all her members should have access to the oracles of 
truth, and be able to consult them for themselves. 

And now I proceed to my proof that the early Church did 
not merely permit her people to verify her teaching by the 
Scriptures did not merely make the Bible accessible to 
them but urged its use on them as a duty which it was 
inexcusable to neglect. One excuse, it may readily occur to 
you, the people of that day had which Christians have not 
now. Before printing was invented you would think that 
manuscripts must have been scarce and expensive, and the 
study of the Bible scarce practicable for ordinary Christians. 
But when you hear how Chrysostom deals with that excuse, 
you will find that, in this case, as in most others, demand 
produced supply, and that, in the ages when the Bible was 
valued, copies of it could be obtained without unreasonable 
sacrifice, and that it was only when the Scriptures ceased to 
be studied that manuscripts became scarce, and therefore 

Speaking of excuses for not reading the Bible, Chrysostom 
says* : ' There is another excuse employed by persons of this 
indolent frame of mind, which is utterly devoid of reason, 
namely, that they have not a Bible. Now, as far as the 
wealthy are concerned, it would be ridiculous to spend words. 
on such a pretext. But, as I believe many of our poorer 
brethren are in the habit of using it, I should be glad to ask 
them this question, Have they not everyone got complete 
and perfect the tools of their respective trades ? Though 
hunger pinch them, though poverty afflict them, they will 
prefer to endure all hardships rather than part with any of 
the implements of their trade, and live by the sale of them. 
Many have chosen rather to borrow for the support of their 
families than give up the smallest of the tools of their trade. 
And very naturally ; for they know that, if these be gone,, 
their whole means of livelihood are lost. Now, just as the 
implements of their trade are the hammer or anvil or pincers, 

* In the following extract I combine what Chrysostom says in two places where 
he goes over nearly the same ground, viz., in St. Joan. Horn. 10, vol. viii. p. 63, and 
De Lazar. Concio 3, vol. i. p. 736. 


exactly so the implements of our profession are the books of 
the Apostles and prophets and all the Scriptures composed 
by Divine inspiration, and very full of profit. As with their 
implements they fashion whatever vessels they take in hands, 
so we with ours labour at our own souls, and correct what is 
injured, and repair what is worn out. Is it not a shame, 
then, if, when the tools of this world's trades are concerned, 
you make no excuse of poverty, but take care that no impedi- 
ment shall interfere with your retaining them, here, where 
such unspeakable benefits are to be reaped, you whine about 
your want of leisure and your poverty ? 

' But, at any rate/ he proceeds, ' the very poorest of you, 
if he attends to the continual reading of the Scriptures that 
takes place here, need not be ignorant of anything that the 
Scriptures contain. You will say this is impossible. If it is, 
I will tell you why it is impossible. It is because many of 
you do not attend to the reading that takes place here ; 
you come here for form's sake, and then straightway go 
home ; and some who remain are not much the better than 
those who go away, being present with us only in the body, 
not in the spirit.' 

But there is another reason which Roman Catholics give 
now for keeping back the Scriptures from common use, 
namely, that they are too difficult for the unlearned to under- 
stand. You shall hear how St. Chrysostom dealt with that 
excuse when his people tendered it as a reason why they did 
not read the Bible. 

' It is impossible for you to be alike ignorant of all ; for it 
was for this reason that the grace of the Spirit appointed 
that publicans and fishermen, tentmakers and shepherds and 
goatherds, and unlearned and ignorant men, should compose 
these books, that none of the unlearned might be able to 
have recourse to this excuse; that the words then spoken 
might be intelligible to all ; that even the mechanic, and the 
servant, and the widow-woman, and the most unlearned of all 
mankind might receive profit and improvement from what they 
should hear. For it was not for vainglory, like the heathen, 
but for the salvation of the hearers, that these authors were 


counted worthy of the grace of the Spirit to compose these 
writings. For the heathen philosophers, not seeking the 
common welfare, but their own glory, if ever they did say 
anything useful, concealed it, as it were, in a dark mist. 
But the Apostles and prophets did quite the reverse ; for 
what proceeded from them they set before all men plain and 
clear, as being the common teachers of the world, that each 
individual might be able, even of himself, to learn the sense of 
what they said from the mere reading. 

* And who is there that does not understand plainly the 
whole of the Gospels ? Who that hears " Blessed are the 
meek," " Blessed are the merciful," " Blessed are the pure in 
heart," and so forth, needs a teacher in order to comprehend 
any of those sayings ? And as for the accounts of miracles 
and wonderful works and historical facts, are they not plain 
and intelligible to any common person ? This is but pretext 
and excuse and a cloke for laziness. 

' You do not understand the contents ; and how will you 
ever be able to understand them if you do not study them ? 
Take the book in your hands ; read the entire history ; and, 
when you have secured a knowledge of what is simple, come 
to the obscure and hard parts over and over again. And if 
you cannot by constant reading make out what is said, go to 
some person wiser than yourself : go to a teacher, communi- 
cate with him about the thing spoken of; show a strong 
interest in the matter ; and if God see you displaying so 
much anxiety, He will not despise your watchfulness and 
earnestness ; but if no man teach you what you seek for, He 
Himself will surely reveal it. 

* Remember the eunuch of the Queen of the Ethiopians, 
who, though a barbarian by birth, and pressed by innume- 
rable cares, and surrounded on all sides by things to occupy 
his attention, aye, and unable, moreover, to understand what 
he was reading, was reading, nevertheless, as he sat in his 
chariot. And if he showed such diligence on the road, con- 
sider what he must have done when staying at home. If he 
could not endure to let the time of his journey pass without 
reading, how much more would he attend to it when sitting 


in his house ? If, when he understood nothing of what he 
was reading, he still could not give up reading, much less 
would he after he had learned. For, in proof that he did not 
understand what he was reading, hear what Philip saith unto 
him: " Understandest thou what thou readest ?" And he, 
upon hearing this, did not blush nor feel ashamed, but con- 
fessed his ignorance, and says : " How can I, unless some 
man should guide me?" Since, then, when he had not a 
guide, he was occupied even so in reading, he therefore 
speedily met with one to take him by the hand. God saw 
his earnestness, accepted his diligence, and straightway sent 
him a teacher. 

' But there is no Philip here now. Aye, but the Spirit 
that influenced Philip is here. Let us not trifle, beloved, 
with our salvation. All these things were written for our 
admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 
Great is the security against sin which the reading of the 
Scriptures furnishes. Great is the precipice and deep the 
gulf that opens before ignorance of the Scriptures. It is 
downright abandonment of salvation to be ignorant of the 
Divine laws. It is this that has caused heresies : it is this 
that has led to profligate living : it is this that has turned 
things upside down ; for it is impossible for anyone to come 
off without profit who constantly enjoys such reading with 

I dare say that will strike you as good Protestant preach- 
ing, and you will be curious to hear what Roman Catholic 
advocates have to say in reply. Well, what they answer is, 
that Chrysostom only recommends what they call the ascetic 
use of the Scriptures, or, as we should say, their use for 
practical edification and instruction of life. I readily grant 
that this was the object Chrysostom appears to have had 
primarily in view in most of the sermons I have quoted, and 
I will, into the bargain, throw in the concession that Chry- 
sostom would have been very sorry if his hearers had put 
any heretical meaning on what they read. But all this is 
beside the question we are considering, namely, Was the 
ancient Church afraid of their laity reading the Bible, or did 


they not, on the contrary, recommend and urge them to read- 
it ? Suppose the question was whether calomel ought to be 
prescribed in a certain disease, and that a doctor who thought 
its use highly dangerous was pressed with the example of 
some great authority who had always prescribed it. Sup- 
pose, after denying this for some time, he had prescription 
after prescription shown to him, in which calomel had been 
employed, what would you think of the answer, ' Oh, he only 
prescribed calomel for its purgative properties ; he did not 
intend the drug to operate in any other way' ? Surely, it is 
common sense that, if you administer a drug, you cannot 
prevent it from exercising all its properties. If you let 
people read the Bible, you cannot prevent them from reflect- 
ing on what they read. Suppose, for an example, a Roman 
Catholic reads the Bible; how can you be sure that he will 
not take notice himself, or have it pointed out to him, that, 
whereas Pius IX. could not write a single Encyclical in 
which the name of the Virgin Mary did not occupy a pro- 
minent place, we have in the Bible twenty-one Apostolic 
letters, and her name does not occur in one of them ? The 
Church of Rome has very good reason to discourage Bible 
reading by their people ; for some of them are very likely to 
be struck by the fact that the system of the New Testament 
is very unlike that of modern Romanism. The ancient 
Church had no such fear. They never desired to teach any- 
thing that was not in the Bible ; and so they were not afraid 
of the people discovering contradictions between the Bible- 
and their teaching. 

Now, I do not want any quotations I may read to you to 
mislead you into thinking that the Fathers of the fourth 
century were English Protestants of the nineteenth. I sup- 
pose there is not one of them to whose opinions on all points 
we should like to pledge ourselves. But such quotations as 
I have read show that they thoroughly agree with us on 
fundamental principles. Where they differ from us they 
differ as men do who, starting from the same principles, 
work them out in some respects differently. In such a case 
there is hope of agreement, if each revise carefully the pro- 


cess of deduction from the principles held in common. But 
our conclusions differ from those of the Church of Rome, 
because we start from different principles, and pursue a 
different method. The difference will be the subject of the 
next Lecture.* 

* I did not trouble myself to give formal proof of the discouragement of Bible 
reading by the modern Church of Rome, because I considered that, as I have said 
above, if her theory be true, her practice is quite right. But as her advocates are 
now often apt to be ashamed of this practice, I copy the conditions under which, 
according to the fourth Rule of the Congregation of the Index of Prohibited Works, 
the exceptional favour of being allowed to read the Bible maybe granted : ' Since it 
is manifest by experience that if the Holy Bible in the vulgar tongue be suffered to be 
read everywhere without distinction, more evil than good arises, let the judgment of 
the bishop or inquisitor be abided by in this respect ; so that, after consulting with 
the parish priest or the confessor, they may grant permission to read translations of 
the Scriptures made by Catholic writers, to those whom they understand to be able 
to receive no harm, but an increase of faith and piety from such reading : which 
faculty let them have in writing. But whosoever shall presume to read these Bibles, 
or have them in possession without such faculty, shall not be capable of receiving 
absolution of their sins, unless they have first given up the Bibles to the ordinary.' 
See Littledale's Plain Reasons, p. 90. But it is needless to produce documentary 
evidence to anyone who knows the small circulation of the Scriptures in Roman 
Catholic countries ; and, even in this country, the small knowledge of the Bible. 
possessed by Roman Catholics in other respects well educated. 



IF we admit it as established that the Church is bound to give 
proofs of her doctrines, the next point in the controversy 
is what sources of proof are admissible. I think it was Dr. 
Hawkins, the late Provost of Oriel, who summed up our doc- 
trine on this subject in the formula, The Church to teach, the 
Scriptures to prove. 

The Church of England, in her Sixth Article, has laid down 
the principle of her method in the assertion that * Holy Scrip- 
tures contain all things necessary to salvation,' so that what- 
ever is incapable of Scripture proof, even if it may happen to 
be true, is not to be required of any man to be believed as an 
article of faith. A profession of belief in this principle of 
the sufficiency of Scripture is one of the pledges which our 
Church requires of every priest at his ordination. Nor is this 
principle merely asserted in one of the Articles; it runs through 
them all. Everything else, which might claim an independent 
authority, is made in the Articles to derive its authority from 
the Bible, and to be authoritative only so far as it agrees with 
the Bible. The most venerable of all traditions the Creeds 
are said (Art. vni.) to be received only because capable of 
Scripture proof. Every particular Church, and General Coun- 
cils of the Church, are said (Arts, xix.-xxi.) to be liable to 
error ; and their decisions are said to be binding only when it 
can be shown that they are taken out of Holy Scripture. 
Then, in the controversial Articles, one Roman doctrine after 
another is rejected as a human invention, because grounded 
upon no warrant of Holy Scripture. Thus you will see that 
the Sixth Article is not an isolated doctrine, but states the 


principle of the method which our Church employs in the 
establishment of all her doctrines. 

Now, the Council of Trent, at the outset of its proceedings, 
equally proclaimed the principle of its method, in order (as it 
said) * that all men might understand in what order and 
method this Synod is about to proceed, and what testimonies 
and authorities it chiefly intends to use for the information of 
doctrine and the establishment of morals in the Church.' 
The actual words of the decree of the Council of Trent are 
easily accessible to you, and I shall expect you to know them ; 
suffice it here to remind you that its principle is, that the 
saving truth, communicated by Christ and His Apostles, is 
contained in the written books and in unwritten traditions, 
and that equal piety and reverence is to be given to the books 
of the Bible and to those traditions. 

As Bellarmine states the matter, the rule of faith is the 
Word of God ; but that Word may be either written or unwrit- 
ten. When we say unwritten, we do not mean that it is nowhere 
written, but only that it was not written down by its first 
announcers. To the first generation of Christians, the Gospel 
revelation was equally authoritative, whether it was announced 
to them by the Apostles' spoken words or by their written 
letters ; and so to every succeeding generation it makes no 
difference whether the Word of God which comes to them be 
written or unwritten. 

In passing, I may just point out the transparent fallacy in 
this oft-repeated argument. Of course, if you certainly know 
a communication to be the Word of God, your obligation to 
receive it is all the same, no matter how it came to you ; but 
the manner in which it comes may make all the difference in 
the world, as to your power of knowing whether it be the Word 
of God or not. The early Christians, who received letters 
bearing the autographs of Peter or Paul, were not a whit more 
sure that they had got an apostolic communication than those 
who, with their own ears, heard the Apostles speak ; no doubt, 
rather less so of the two ; but it is surely perfectly ludicrous 
to argue that, because the Apostles' spoken words were as 
good a means of knowing their sentiments as their written 


words, therefore what Leo XIII., after eighteen hundred years, 
tells us the Apostles taught is as good evidence to their doc- 
trine as faithful transcripts of their own letters. 

To return, however, the principle of the perfect equality of 
Scripture and tradition, as means of proving doctrine, runs 
through the decrees of the Council of Trent. Very frequently, 
indeed, when Scripture proof can be had, it is gladly cited ; 
but tradition is freely used to supplement the silence of 
Scripture, or to interpret its obscurities. And indeed, in 
general, it is not easy to distinguish how much of the proof 
professes to be Scriptural, and how much traditional. Thus 
it was almost inevitable that the doctrine of the Articles of the 
Church of England and of the decrees of the Council of Trent 
should be different when the mode of judgment adopted by 
the two is so different ; the one making Scripture alone its 
rule ; the other, Scripture and tradition ; and the latter, also, 
placing tradition on a perfect equality with Scripture, as a 
completely independent means of conveying a knowledge of 
what our Lord and His Apostles taught. 

The question at issue is often stated in the form, What is 
the rule of faith: Scripture alone, or Scripture and tradition? 
On this form of expression I may have a remark to make by- 
and-by : what I want now to point out is, that in the Roman 
Catholic controversy this question about the rule of faith is 
altogether subordinate to the question as to the judge of 
controversies, or, in other words, the question as to the infal- 
libility of the Church. The Church of England doctrine, as to 
the sufficiency of Scripture, has a real positive meaning to 
which there is nothing corresponding in the Roman doctrine 
about Scripture and tradition. Our Church accepts the ob- 
ligation to give proof of her assertions, and she declares that 
Scripture is the source whence she draws her proofs. She 
declares that she does not consider that anything not con- 
tained in Scripture is necessary for salvation to be believed ; 
and, accordingly, she does not make it a condition of com- 
munion with her to believe in any doctrine for which she 
cannot give Scripture proof. Now, the belief of a Roman 
Catholic does not rest on Scripture and tradition in the same 


way that that of a Protestant does on Scripture : his belief 
rests on the authority of the Church ; he does not think about 
tradition, except when he wants a well-sounding word in 
controversy with a Protestant. His Church expects to be 
believed on her bare word ; she does not condescend to offer 
proofs. What she says about tradition will be found to have 
only a negative meaning, namely, that her doctrines are not 
to be rejected because they are not to be found in Scripture, 
inasmuch as she has other ways of coming by them ; but 
you would be grossly mistaken if you imagined that she meant 
to offer you any historical proof by uninspired testimony for 
the Apostolic origin of doctrines which are not to be found in 
Scripture. If that Church condescends to offer proofs of her 
doctrines, she claims to be the sole judge whether what she 
offers are proofs or not. If she presents a Scripture proof, 
she claims to be the sole interpreter of Scripture ; and she 
requires you to believe, on her word, not only that the doctrine 
in question is true, but also that it is taught in the passage 
of Scripture which she alleges in support of it. Thus you 
see that the so-called Scripture proof is not a foundation on 
which your faith is to rest, but a new load to be laid on your 
faith. And it is just the same when she alleges tradition. If 
she asserts that she has received a doctrine by tradition, you 
are bound to believe that the doctrine has been continuously 
held in the Church from the first, even though there may not 
be a particle of historic evidence to justify the assertion. 

In the same session of the Council of Trent in which was 
passed the decree setting tradition on a level with Scripture, 
it was also ordained that no one, leaning on his own under- 
standing, shall dare, wresting Scripture to his own sense, to 
interpret it contrary to that sense which has been and is held 
by the Holy Mother Church, whose province it is to judge 
concerning the true sense and interpretation of Scripture, or 
even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers. Ac- 
cordingly, the Creed of Pius IV. requires all who subscribe it 
to promise : * I admit Holy Scripture according to that sense 
which has been and is held by Holy Mother Church, whose 
province it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of 


Scripture'; and, further, to say: Nor will I ever receive or 
interpret it except according to the unanimous consent of the 
Fathers.' The latter clause is a monstrous distortion of the 
words of the Council of Trent, and, if understood literally, 
amounts to a promise not to interpret Scripture at all, since, 
in the vast majority of cases where difference of opinion is 
possible, anyone who waits to interpret until he gets a 
unanimous consent of the Fathers to guide him may wait till 
Doomsday. The Vatican Council, the other day, in order to 
prevent misunderstanding of the meaning of this decree of 
Trent, renewed it in nearly the same words as those of the 
former Council. 

If you look through the decrees of the Council of Trent, 
you will find illustrations in plenty of the use made of the 
Church's power of interpretation in finding Scripture proof 
not discoverable by man's unassisted powers. Thus, the 
decree concerning Extreme Unction recites the well-known 
words from the Epistle of James, and then adds : ' By which 
words (as the Church has learned from Apostolic tradition) 
the Apostle teaches the matter, the form, the proper minister, 
and the effect of the Sacrament. For the Church has under- 
stood that the matter is oil blessed by the bishop ; that the 
form is those words, " per istam unctionem,"' etc. ; and so on. 
Here we have a commentary of which there is not a trace in 
the text ; and in this way evidently any passage of Scripture 
could be made to say anything the Church was pleased it 
should say. 

I do not think any other proof is necessary of the modern- 
ness of the Roman rule of faith than the very complicated 
form which it assumes. I quote again from Milner's End of 
Controversy what, after rejecting the two fallacious rules of 
faith, he puts forward as the true rule, namely, ' the Word 
of God at large, whether written in the Bible or handed 
down from the Apostles in continual succession by the 
Catholic Church, and as it is understood and explained by 
the Church' ; or, to speak more accurately, he says : 'Besides 
their rule of faith, which is Scripture and tradition, Catholics 
acknowledge an unerring judge of controversy, or sure guide 


in all matters relating to religion, namely, the Church.' Now, 
if Christians had begun with the notion that they had an in- 
fallible guide in the Church, they never would have said 
anything about Scripture or tradition. And this will test 
for us a second time whether the relation between the Church 
teachers and their flocks is fitly paralleled by that between a 
barrister and his clients, or between a physician and his 
patients. A sick man, when asked what advice he is using 
in order to get well, does not answer : Medical literature, as 
contained in such-and-such books, together with the instruc- 
tions given orally in the Dublin Medical Schools, the whole 
as interpreted to me by Dr. So-and-so. A litigant does not 
tell us that he trusts for the conduct of his lawsuit to the 
statutes at large, together with the common law, as ascer- 
tained by the decisions of several successive judges, the 
whole as interpreted to him by such-and-such a barrister. 
In those cases we do not dream of going behind the barrister 
or physician to whose skill we commit ourselves, and we do not 
bestow a thought on the sources of his information. And so, if 
Christians had originally trusted to the Church as an infallible 
guide, they would never have talked about Scripture or tra- 
dition. It would have been enough for them to know that the 
Church had told them what to believe : whether she derived her 
knowledge from Scripture, or from tradition, or from immediate 
inspiration, would not have mattered to them in the slightest 
degree. But the true explanation why Roman Catholic con- 
troversialists state their rule of faith in this complicated form 
is, that Christians began by taking Scripture as their guide, 
and then, when practices were found current which could not 
be defended out of the Bible, tradition was invoked to sup- 
plement the deficiencies of Scripture. Last of all, when no 
proof could be made out either from Scripture or antiquity 
for Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, the authority of 
the Church was introduced to silence all objections. But 
still there was not courage to rest the fabric of belief on this 
modern foundation solely, and so the venerable names of 
Scripture and antiquity were still appealed to. 

But, indeed, the theory that tradition is a rule of faith is 



quite untenable unless it be supplemented by the theory of 
the infallibility of the Church ; for tradition is a rule which 
it is quite impossible for the individual to apply. There is 
no difficulty in an individual using Scripture as his rule of 
faith ; for he can learn without much difficulty what the 
statements of the Bible on any subject are, and on most 
subjects these statements are easy to be understood. But if 
it were certain that Apostolic traditions independent of the 
Bible existed, it is next to impossible for the individual to 
find them with any certainty. If he has to search for them 
in the writings of Fathers, the canons of Councils, the decrees 
of Popes, the magnitude of the mass in which he has to 
search is enough to deter him from making the attempt. 
Indeed, until our own time, the task would have been im- 
possible. The Abbe Migne, in the prospectus to his edition of 
the Fathers, tells us, in capital letters, that, out of the innu- 
merable works which constitute THE CATHOLIC TRADITION, 
he has formed one unique and admirable work, the materials 
which he had to gather being often fragments and small 
works without number, scattered here and there, and some 
of them unedited, drawn from books and manuscripts be- 
longing to all places, all ages and languages, and now for 
the first time united in his library. It is certainly a great 
blessing to have the Catholic tradition presented in a com- 
pact and compendious form. And what is the size of this 
convenient compilation ? The Latin Fathers form two hun- 
dred and twenty-two thick volumes ; the Greek, one hundred 
and sixty-seven. But this is only Fathers : if you want 
the proceedings of Councils, the decrees of Popes, &c., you 
must search for them elsewhere. And then, when we search 
for Apostolical traditions in the writings of the Fathers, 
there is nothing to mark their Apostolic origin. We have 
no certain means, by our own ingenuity, of distinguishing 
true from false traditions : not one of the Fathers is recog- 
nized as singly a trustworthy guide : every one of them is 
admitted to have held some views which cannot be safely fol- 
lowed. Thus, the mere addition of tradition to the rule of 
faith makes it impossible for the individual to employ that 


rule ; and the Romish doctrine about the rule of faith would 
be unintelligible unless it were supplemented by her doctrine 
concerning the infallibility of the Church, which, by her un- 
erring instinct, is supposed to have the power of distinguishing 
true from false traditions, and which reports the results she 
arrives at for the instruction of the people. Thus you see it 
is quite a delusion to represent the system of the Roman 
Church as resting on trustworthy tradition. We are not per- 
mitted to apply a historical test to her teaching: on the con- 
trary, the teaching of the Church of the present day is made 
the test of traditions. If any sayings of ancient writers are 
brought forward, as contravening that teaching, they are set 
aside as false traditions. 

It would seem, then, that if I have already refuted the 
notion that the Church of Rome is infallible, I need hardly 
-say anything about tradition. There is, however, just this 
question of fact to be settled : our Church accepts the con- 
dition of having to give proof of her doctrines ; it is owned on 
all hands that the New Testament is a trustworthy source of 
information as to the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles. 
The question is, Is there any trustworthy source besides ? Now, 
I am willing to dismiss all a priori discussions, whether it 
is likely that God would commit the keeping of anything 
essential to our salvation to a vehicle so insecure, and so 
liable to be corrupted, as tradition ; for it is dangerous to 
measure God's acts by our a priori notions what He was 
likely to do. And yet, the force of this argument is felt by 
Romanists themselves, who would not rely on a source of 
information so utterly precarious as tradition, if they did not 
suppose that they had a means of removing its insecurity in 
the Church, which, by its infallible instinct, discriminates 
true from false traditions. So, when the dream of infallibility 
is given up, tradition is reduced to its own uncertainty. 

But, as I say, I dismiss all a priori arguments, neither 
shall I bring forward the statements of Scripture which bear 
witness to its own sufficiency, and which give us reason to 
believe that he^who studies it in prayer for the Holy Spirit's 
guidance will find in its pages all things necessary for his sal- 



ration. Such texts do not suffice to give us a logical victory 
over our opponents. We cannot speak too highly of the excel- 
lence of any one book of Scripture : I dare say that the Gospel 
of St. John alone contains all things needful for salvation ; 
yet that does not prove that other inspired books were not 
written. Several of the texts that are cited to prove the suf- 
ficiency of Scripture primarily relate to the Old Testament ; 
yet, excellent as that was, God gave the New besides; and, in 
like manner, if any New Testament text be cited, it may be 
asked, was the Canon closed at the time that text was written ; 
if not, such a text does not prove that God may not have 
given a further revelation, or that that further revelation may 
not have been handed down by tradition. 

I think it much better, then, instead of running away from 
this ghost of tradition which Roman Catholic controversialists 
dress up to frighten us with, to walk up to it, and pull it to 
pieces, when it is found to be a mere bogey. You say that 
you have other evidence as to the teaching of our Lord and 
His Apostles as trustworthy as the Books of the New Testa- 
ment. Well, produce your evidence, and let us see what it is 
worth. When the question is looked at in this way it will 
be found that the appeal to tradition by Roman Catholics 
means no more than this : that there are doctrines taught by 
the Church of Rome which, it must be acknowledged, cannot 
be found in Scripture, and which she is unwilling to own that 
she invented, or to pretend that they were made known to her 
by a new revelation. It remains, then, that she must have 
received them by tradition. But the baselessness of this pre- 
tence appears when we come to look into the testimony of 
antiquity with respect to each of the peculiar doctrines of Ro- 
manism. For tradition is a thing which must be the purer the 
further we trace it back. The Church may get a new revelation, 
but cannot get a new tradition. We know, from the confession 
of Bishop Milner and others, that fifty years ago the Roman 
Church knew nothing certain, either by Scripture or tradition, 
as to whether or not the Virgin Mary was conceived without 
sin. Well, then, it is clear that if that Church has attained 
to certainty on this subject since, it was not by tradition she 


attained it. In like manner, when Augustine hears the idea 
suggested that, as the sins of good men cause them suffering 
in this world, so they may also to a certain degree in the 
next, he says that he will not venture to say that nothing 
of the kind can occur, for perhaps it may.* Well, if the idea 
of purgatory had not got beyond a 'perhaps' at the begin- 
ning of the fifth century, we are safe in saying that it was not 
by tradition that the later Church arrived at certainty on the 
subject ; for, if the Church had had any tradition in the time 
of Augustine, that great Father could not have helped know- 
ing it. And so I might reason with respect to several other 
doctrines. Tradition, as it were, hangs by a chain from the 
Apostolic Church, and when one part of the chain snaps, down 
comes all that is below it. When once it is proved that the 
Church at any period was ignorant of a doctrine, there can be 
no pretence that the Church, at any subsequent period derived 
its knowledge of that doctrine from Apostolic tradition. 

Indeed the Church of Rome finds this word ' tradition ' so 
convenient, as accounting for the origin of doctrines, whose 
Apostolic descent can be proved in no other way, that she is 
unwilling to deprive herself of the power, involving though it 
does a contradiction in terms, of finding out new traditions. 
I quoted Bellarmine, as teaching that in calling one part of 
the Word of God ' unwritten,' he does not mean that it is 
nowhere written, but only that it was not written down by its 
first authors. Yet, if you ask how late are we to go down : 
when did some one or other of the Fathers complete the task 
of committing all these traditions to writing ? you can get no 
distinct answer. The Roman authorities will not even pledge 
themselves that every tradition of the Church is committed 
to writing at this moment ; and with good reason, for if they 
once closed the account it might be an inconvenient check 
to new developments. 

If I am asked, then, why I do not appeal to traditions, 
independent of Scripture, as evidence of the true Christian 
doctrine, I am content to answer, Because I see no historical 
evidence that there are any such trustworthy traditions. 

* Zte Civ. Dei, xxi. 26. 


Roman Catholics say, You receive the New Testament on the 
authority of tradition ; why do you not receive other things 
which come to us on the same authority ? I answer, that I 
am willing to receive anything else that comes on the same 
authority. Produce me as strong testimony in favour of any 
doctrine not contained in Scripture, as that which proves the- 
Books of the New Testament to have been written by the 
Apostles or by their contemporary fellow-labourers, and I will 
receive it. But, the fact is, the evidence on which we believa 
that the Epistle to the Galatians was written by St. Paul is far 
stronger than that on which we believe the sEneid to have 
been the'work of Virgil ; but, for any saying, or action, or doc- 
trine of our Lord, not contained in the Bible, there really is 
not as much evidence as the editor of a respectable newspaper 
requires before he admits an announcement into his columns. 
Indeed, when we search for the early history of the Christian 
Church it is remarkable what a break occurs after the New- 
Testament history, and before we come to other trustworthy 
records of much historical value. In the age which imme- 
diately succeeded the Apostles there were but few writers, and 
what remains to us of their compositions adds, I may say, 
nothing to what the New Testament has told us. When we 
come lower down the remains of antiquity increase, but there 
is a singular absence of trustworthy traditional information. 
I am disposed to account for this break by the rapid diffusion 
of the Gospel over distant countries ; for distance of place is- 
as great an obstacle to the propagation of a tradition as 
distance of time. But certain it is that the early Christian 
writers appear to have drawn their knowledge of the facts of 
the Gospel history solely from the New Testament, like our- 
selves, and to have been as much at a loss as we, when diffi- 
culties occurred, such as tradition might have been expected 
to explain. 

For instance, as to a fact so little likely to be forgotten 
as the number of years our Saviour lived on earth, and the- 
duration of His ministry, we find very opposite statements 
in early Christian writers, who we should have supposed had 
the means of being better informed. Clement of Alexandria- 


makes the whole duration of our Lord's ministry but one 
year;* and so some early writers understood the words ' the 
acceptable year of the Lord'; while Irenaeus (ll. xxii.) states, 
on the authority not merely of John viii. 57, but of persons 
who claimed to have received St. John's oral teaching, that 
our Saviour passed through all the stages of human life from 
infancy to old age. There is a like discrepancy as to a fact 
which one would think tradition might have preserved the 
personal appearance of our Saviour.f Opposite opinions 
were held, but plainly, I think, held not on the evidence of 
traditional testimony, but on no better grounds than those on 
which we might ourselves discuss the question ; the one side 
understanding literally the prophetical texts, ' He hath no 
form or comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no 
beauty that we should desire Him ; His visage was marred 
more than any man, and His form more than the sons of 
men ' ; the other side, yielding to that natural feeling which 
still leads painters to give to the features of our Blessed Lord 
all of dignity and grace that they are capable of expressing. 
There are difficulties in the New Testament on which tradi- 
tion might be expected to throw light, such as the double 
genealogies of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and yet, it gives no 
information worthy of reliance.^ Such a question as whether 
St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew or Greek appears to be not 
absolutely settled by tradition. Again, some difficulties of 
textual criticism would be solved if we could assume that 
more editions of the Gospel than one were published. But 
no uninspired writer is early enough to know anything about 
the first publication of the Gospels. 

Many like examples can be given. Hernias appears to 

* Strom, i. 21, p. 407. See also v. 6, p. 658. Clement is followed by Origen 
(De Princ. IV. 5). 

t On this subject see the interesting essay appended to Rigalt's Cyprian, De 
Pulchritudine Corporis D. N. Jesu Christi. 

% At the beginning of the third century Africanus endeavoured to collect in 
Palestine traditions on the subject. Few traditions have stronger external claims to 
respect than his account of the matter (see Routh, Rell. Sac. II. 228), but I cannot 
feel that any confidence can be placed in it. 

See my Introduction to the New Testament, Lect. x. 


have been recognized as a prophet at Rome, and his book, 
called ' The Shepherd,' was admitted to the public reading 
of many Churches. Yet even in Rome itself in less than a 
hundred years it was quite forgotten who this Hermas was, 
while in foreign Churches the wildest guesses were made 
on the subject. The Roman Church does not even give a 
unanimous account as to the names and order of its first 
bishops. The Epistle of Clement gained much celebrity; but 
what order this Clement held in the series of Roman bishops 
is disputed to this day. The subscriptions to St. Paul's 
epistles are not earlier than the fourth century ; but we might 
naturally think that Euthalius, to whom they are ascribed, 
would embody in them all the earlier traditions which he could 
collect ; yet these subscriptions are, in one or two cases, quite 
erroneous, and are in no case regarded as of any authority. 
In the third century learned men appear to have been in the 
same position as ourselves when called on to reconcile the 
prevalent tradition, that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews 
with the absence of his name and the difference of style 
from his acknowledged letters. They appear to have tried 
to solve the question by sagacious conjecture, but to have 
been quite without historical testimony. The curiosity of 
Christians eagerly thirsted for more information about the 
deeds and sayings of our Lord than the New Testament sup- 
plies ; and the want so generally felt compilers of Apocryphal 
Gospels tried to satisfy. Some of them are very early, and, if 
there had been any additional facts available, they would, 
no doubt, have worked them into their productions. But the 
fictitious character of these Gospels is betrayed by their entire 
unlikeness to the genuine histories of our Saviour ; nor do I 
suppose that there is now any learned man who attaches the 
least credence to the legends which they contain. There 
is no saying of our Lord, outside of the New Testament, for 
which there is more respectable testimony, than for that 
saying about the Millennium which I quoted from Papias 
last Term,* and which is calculated to destroy all faith in 
uninspired tradition. 

* Irenaeus, v. 33. See my Introduction to the New Testament, p. 227. 


The simple answer, then, to the question, why we do not 
use traditions as well as Scripture in the proof of Christian 
doctrine, is that we do not know of any trustworthy enough ; 
and what we have seen of the failure of tradition proves to us 
that there were good reasons why God should have granted 
us in Scripture a more secure channel for conveying Christian 
truth. But if it is alleged that it can be established by unin- 
spired testimony that any doctrine not contained in Scripture 
is part of the Christian scheme, let the evidence be produced, 
and we are willing to consider it. I need not discuss the 
abstract probability whether it is reasonable to expect that 
such testimony can be forthcoming, because I believe, as a 
matter of fact, that in no case has any such been produced. 



THE subject on which I lectured on the last day would 
very commonly be stated in the form, What is the 
rule of faith ? Scripture alone, or Scripture and tradition ? 
There are some ambiguities in the words used in this mode 
of statement to which I ought to call your attention. First, 
as to the words 'rule of faith,' I ought to mention that 
two or three very early Fathers* give the name * regula fidei' 
or 'regula veritatis' to a profession of faith nearly identical 
with our Apostles' Creed, as forming the rule according to 
which Christians ought to shape their belief. Our Church, in 
the Eighth Article, does not ascribe to the Creeds any inde- 
pendent authority, but receives them merely because they can 
be proved from Scripture. Of course that does not mean that 
the Bible is our only source of knowledge for the truth of all 
the things stated in the Creeds. I suppose that, if a single 
book of the New Testament had never been written, it would 
still have been possible for us to know that the doctrine in 
attestation of which the first preachers of Christianity hazarded 
their lives was, that the Founder of their religion had 
died and was buried, and rose again the third day. No one 
who contends for the sufficiency of Scripture is concerned to 
deny that many of the things stated in the Bible are capable 
of historical proof independently of the Bible. Nor are we at 
all concerned to determine the historical question whether, in 
the earliest age of the Church, the doctrines contained in that 
profession of faith which converts made at their baptism 

* Irenaeus, Haer. I. ix., xxi. ; Tertullian, De Praescrip. 13, De Virgg. veland. i, &c. 


might not have been known to many of them independently 
of Scripture. Obviously, if it were proved that the great 
leading facts of our religion, though contained in the Bible, 
might also be handed down independently of the Bible for a 
hundred years or two, this would not at all prove that a 
number of things for which no Scripture warrant can be 
found might also have been handed down for eighteen 
hundred years. However, I have thought it the simplest 
plan to avoid all cavil as to the use of the phrase, 'rule of 
faith,' and merely state the question of fact we have got to 
determine : Is there, besides the Scripture, any trustworthy 
source of information as to the teaching of our Lord and His 
Apostles ? 

It is more important to observe that there is an ambiguity 
about the word tradition. Bellarmine divides traditions into 
Divine, Apostolical, and Ecclesiastical. Divine traditions are 
things ordained by Christ Himself. Such, for example, he 
says, are the matter and form of the Sacraments, because 
that it is certain that Sacraments could only be instituted by 
Christ Himself. Apostolic traditions are things ordained or 
taught by the Apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, 
and by them handed down to the Church. It is concerning 
these two that we have controversy with the Church of Rome. 
Nothing turns on the distinction between the two. We 
readily admit ourselves to be bound to receive anything that 
can be traced up to the inspired teaching of the Apostles ; 
and we raise no question whether the Apostles were repeat- 
ing something taught them by our Lord's own lips during 
the period when he walked on earth, or were speaking under 
the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In both cases 
we acknowledge their teaching to be alike binding on us. 
Our controversy is whether, if any doctrine not contained in 
Scripture be propounded as necessary to salvation, satis- 
factory proof can be given that it was so propounded by 
the Apostles. Of course there is a great deal that is true 
of which the Bible does not tell us anything ; but we do not 
hold that belief in truth of this kind is necessary to salvation. 

The traditions which Bellarmine places in the third class 

140 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

are of quite a different kind. Ecclesiastical traditions are 
ancient customs of the Church, which, however instituted at 
first, have, by length of custom, the force of laws of the Church. 
Such traditions, says Bellarmine, are the observance of Easter 
and Whitsuntide, the custom of mixing water with the Eucha- 
ristic wine, the habit of making the sign of the Cross. Now, it is 
curious that, though in popular controversy tradition is com- 
monly opposed to Scripture, the word tradition does not 
occur in our Sixth Article, which practically excludes Bellar- 
mine's first two kinds of traditions, Divine and Apostolical, 
from holding a place on a level with Scripture in binding 
our faith. In the only place in our Articles in which the 
word 'tradition' occurs, namely, the Thirty-fourth Article, ' Of 
the Traditions of the Church,' it is used in the sense of what 
Bellarmine calls Ecclesiastical traditions. Concerning these 
last, except on the question of Roman supremacy, we have 
no controversy with the Church of Rome. Although we do 
not allow doctrines of faith to be taught except on the autho- 
rity of Scripture, we do not require such authority for the 
institution of a rite or ceremony. We do not believe that 
the New Testament was intended as a code of ceremonial ; 
and we allow each Church to order such matters as she finds 
most conducive to the edification of the people ; and, as times 
and manners change, to alter such ceremonies again as she 
finds expedient, provided only that nothing is ordained con- 
trary to the Word of God. 

On this point there is very little room for controversy 
among Christians. No sect could consistently carry out the 
principle of having no Church rule without a Scripture text 
to authorize it ; and, on the other hand, the Church of Rome 
herself most fully acknowledges the power of the Church, for 
reason which to her seems good, to alter Church rules of the 
most venerable antiquity. I need only remind you of her 
rule of withholding the cup from the laity, though she 
acknowledges that the Sacrament, on its first institution, 
was administered in both kinds, and that this mode of ad- 
ministration continued in the Church for many ages. It was 
necessary to point out to you this ambiguity in the word 


* tradition,' because you will constantly find that, when pas- 
sages of the Fathers are adduced which speak of traditions, 
the writers are not dreaming of any rule of faith distinct 
from Scripture, but only of ancient customs of the Church, as 
to the expedience, or, at any rate, the lawfulness, of retaining 
which we have no inclination to enter into dispute. 

While speaking on this subject, I may give you a refe- 
rence to an interesting list of early Church customs for which 
no Scripture authority can be given. It is in the beginning 
of Tertullian's treatise, De Corona Militis, and the list may be 
extended by means of the note to the Oxford translation of 
the passage. The occasion of it was that Tertullian whose 
turn of mind led him, whenever a question was raised as to 
what was permissible to a Christian, to take what we may 
call a puritanically strict view had pronounced it unlawful 
for Christians to wear a flower crown, as the heathens did, 
on occasions of rejoicing. It shows the feeling of the Church 
of the time on the sufficiency of Scripture that, whenever 
Tertullian puts forward any of these severe rules, he has 
always to meet the objection, Can you show from Scripture 
that what you condemn is wrong ? On other occasions he 
makes some attempt to satisfy the demand. Here Scripture 
proof fails him, and he has to take his stand on the custom 
of the Church, which forbad the wearing of such wreaths ; 
and this leads him to instance a number of practices which 
have no authority but Church usage. It is an argument 
a fortiori in favour of our rule of requiring Scripture proof 
for Divine or Apostolic traditions, that in the early Church 
such proof was demanded even for Ecclesiastical traditions. 

There is another distinction worth bearing in mind when 
quotations from the Fathers are produced that between 
tradition as signifying the 'res tradita' and the 'modus 
tradendi.' Every belief and custom which the Church of 
one age hands down to its successors is in one sense a tra- 
dition ; and in many places the word 'tradition' is used as it 
is by St. Paul, so as not to determine anything as to the way 
in which the tradition comes' Hold fast the traditions which 
you have received, whether by word or our epistle.' It is 

142 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

evident that any passage of this kind is misapplied if it be 
supposed to indicate a preference of oral tradition over the 
written Word. 

With these cautions we might be well content to allow 
the question concerning Scripture and tradition to be deter- 
mined by tradition alone ; for, if anything can be established 
by tradition, there is a clear and full tradition to prove that 
the Scriptures are a full and perfect rule of faith ; that they 
contain the whole Word of God ; and that what is outside of 
them need not be regarded. To go into the details of the 
proof would scarcely be suitable to a viva voce lecture ; for 
there would be little profit in reading out a string of pas- 
sages which I could not expect you to remember. I will, 
therefore, refer you to the second part of Taylor's Dissuasive 
for a complete catena of Fathers establishing by their con- 
sent this principle, which no Father denies. And I am sure 
that there is no Roman Catholic doctrine disputed by us for 
which anything like so complete a tradition can be cited. I 
merely give you, as a sample, the following from St. Basil.* 
* Without doubt it is a most manifest fall from faith, and 
a most certain sign of pride, to introduce anything that 
is not written in the Scriptures, our blessed Saviour having 
said, " My sheep hear My voice, and the voice of strangers 
they will not hear" ; and to detract from Scripture, or to add 
anything to the faith that is not there, is most manifestly 
forbidden by the Apostle saying, " If it be but a man's testa- 
ment, no man addeth thereto."' In the same context St. Basil 
declares that he will only sparingly employ any words which, 
though they express the doctrine of Scripture, are not found 
in Scripture itself. I may remind you, in passing, how the 
-dislike to employ a non-Scriptural phrase deterred many 
who were perfectly orthodox in doctrine from adopting the 
ofjtoovcfioQ of the Nicene Creed. In another treatisef on the 
duties of different stations of life, having given a section to 
the duties of Christian teachers, he comes to the duties of 
hearers, and the first duty he names is, ' Those who are in- 
structed in the Scriptures ought to test the things that are 

* De Fide, Garnier's Ed., ii. 313. t Moralia, Reg. 72, vol. ii., p. 428. 


said by their teachers, and to receive what agrees with the 
Scriptures, and to reject what disagrees.' He establishes 
this caution by the texts, * If thine eye offend thee,' &c. ; ' A 
stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him ; for they 
know not the voice of a stranger'; 'Though we or an angel 
from heaven preach any Gospel to you besides that ye have 
received, let him be anathema' a text, I may observe, forcibly 
used for the same purpose by St. Augustine.* And lastly, St. 
Basil uses the text, ' Prove all things ; hold fast that which is 
good.' Uneducated persons, who cannot read the Scriptures, 
are recommended by St. Basil to trust their teachers according 
as they see the fruits of the Spirit manifested in their life. 

So much for an Eastern witness. For a Western I cannot 
take a better than St. Cyprian, because, as his controversy 
was with the Bishop of Rome, the quotation will also serve to 
show how little the supremacy or infallibility of the Roman See 
was acknowledged in the third century. Cyprian, as you no 
doubt know, opposed the then existing custom of the Church 
which acknowledged the validity of baptism conferred by 
heretics, contending that the claims of custom must give way 
to those of truth. He was resisted by Stephen, Bishop of 
Rome, who, in the vehemence of his opposition, transgressed 
all the bounds of charity, and proceeded so far as to excom- 
municate those who differed from him. Now, the question is, 
not who was right in that particular dispute, but what were 
the principles on which the Fathers of the Church then 
argued. Cyprian thus writes to another bishop,f ' I have sent 
you a copy of the answer which our brother Stephen has sent 
to our letter, on reading which you will mark the error of him 
who endeavours to maintain the cause of heretics against the 
Church of God ; for, among other things, either insolent or 
irrelevant, or self-contradictory, which he has rashly and 
thoughtlessly written, he has added this : "if anyone come to 
us from any heresy whatever, let no innovation be made on 
the tradition that hands be laid on him unto repentance." I 
may interrupt my quotation to say, that it appears to me 
clear, from the other documents of this controversy, that 

* Cont. lift. Petiliani, III. 6, vol. ix. 301. f Ep. 74, Ad Pompeium, 

144 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

Stephen had put forward his succession from St. Peter, and 
had demanded that the traditional practice of the Roman 
Church in this matter should be accepted, as having been 
delivered to it by St. Peter and St. Paul. ' No innovation 
on the tradition,' cries St. Cyprian. * Whence comes that tradi- 
tion ? Does it descend from the authority of our Lord and the 
Gospels \ Does it come from the commands and Epistles of 
the Apostles ? God testifies that we must do the things that 
are written, saying to Joshua, " the Book of the law shall not 
depart from thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate in it day and 
night, that thou mayest observe to do all that is written in it." 
Likewise, the Lord, when He sent His Apostles, commanded 
them to baptize all nations, and to teach them to observe 
whatsoever He commanded. If, therefore, it is commanded, 
either in the Gospels, or in the Apostolic Epistles, or in the 
Acts, that those coming from any heresy should not be 
baptized, but only hands laid on them, then this is a Divine 
tradition, and let it be observed ; but if in these books heretics 
are called nothing but adversaries and anti-Christs; if we are 
told to avoid them as perverse and self-condemned, why 
should we not condemn those who, the Apostle witnesses, are 
self-condemned ? ' Plainly, Cyprian here maintains that the 
way to find out what traditions are genuine is not to 
take the word of the Bishop of Rome, but to search the 
Scriptures as the only trustworthy record of Apostolic tra- 
dition. As he says further on in the same letter, * What do 
you do when the water in a conduit fails ? You go back to the 

In this controversy the African bishops had extensive 
support in the East; in particular, the Churches of Asia Minor, 
who had been alienated from Rome by their quartodeciman 
practice, took part strongly against Stephen, and their leading 
bishop, Firmilian of Cappadocia, writing to Cyprian, rejects 
Stephen's authority in language more angry and contemp- 
tuous than Cyprian's. Dionysius of Alexandria interfered in 
the interests of peace. But what really silenced the contro- 
versy was the persecution which descended with equal weight 
on both parties, and gave alike to Stephen and to Cyprian 


opportunity to witness, that, whatever their differences, the 
cause of Christ was dear to both. 

On the question of heretical baptism we have, as often 
happens, Father opposed to Father, and the views of 
Cyprian are refuted by Augustine; but the very disagree- 
ment brings out the fact, that there is a point on which 
all the Fathers are agreed, namely, the infinite superiority 
of Scripture to every other source of proof. Cyprian's 
doctrine about heretical baptism was an innovation at the 
time, as we may easily gather from the stand he takes on 
Scripture against tradition ; and, as you know, it was not 
ultimately adopted by the Church. But his arguments were 
most acceptable to the followers of Donatus, who, in their 
controversy with St. Augustine, pressed him continually 
with the authority of that martyr saint, whose credit every- 
where in the Church was so great, but naturally more par- 
ticularly so in Africa. Now, Augustine differed from Cyprian 
in not thinking Scripture proof to be necessary in order to 
show a custom to be Apostolical. He thought, on the con- 
trary, that the existence in the Church, from time immemo- 
rial, of a custom the origin of which could not be traced to the 
decree of a Council, or in any other such way accounted for, 
afforded a reasonable presumption that the custom was Apos- 
tolical. However this may be, I agree with him in thinking 
that the usage of the Church was justification enough for not 
re-baptizing those who had received heretical baptism. And 
when he was pressed by Cyprian's authority he replied, ( You 
are ever throwing in our teeth Cyprian's opinions, Cyprian's 
letters, Cyprian's Council. Who knows not that the Canonical 
Scripture of the Old and New Testament is contained within 
certain limits, and that its authority is so far to be preferred 
to all later letters of bishops, that no question can be raised 
whether what is found therein be true and right r Whereas 
the letters of bishops written after the settling of the Canon 
may be checked by the wiser language of any writer who 
happens to have more knowledge of the matter in question, or 
by the weightier authority of other bishops, and the skill of 
learned men, or by Councils ; and particular or provincial 


146 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

Councils again must yield to the authority of General Councils 
gathered from the whole Christian world. Nay, earlier Ge- 
neral Councils themselves may be corrected by later.' * And 
again, in graceful language, which gives due weight to the 
authority of Cyprian, while it refuses to set any uninspired 
authority on the level of Scripture ; ' but, now, seeing that 
which thou recitest is not Canonical, with that liberty to which 
the Lord hath called me, I do not receive the opinion different 
from Scripture of that man whose praise I cannot reach, to 
whose great learning I do not compare my writings, whose 
genius I love, in whose spirit I delight, whose charity I admire, 
whose martyrdom I reverence.' f 

I must not weary you with quotations ; but you may take 
it as a general rule that there is not a Father who, if his own 
belief is demanded for something not contained in Scripture 
which he is not disposed to accept, will not reply in some 
such language as St. Jerome: 'This, because it has not 
authority from the Scriptures, is with the same easiness 
despised as approved.' J * As we accept those things that are 
written, so we reject those things that are not written.' 

* These things which they invent, as if by Apostolic tradition, 
without the authority of Scripture, the sword of God smites.' || 
You will see, then, that if we were at the desire of the Romish 
advocates to leave the Scriptures and resort to the Fathers 
of the early Church for a decision of our controversies, these 
very Fathers would send us back to the Scriptures as the 
only guide to truth, the only safeguard against heresy. 

It is proper to mention the only set-off that I know of that 
can be madeto the otherwise unanimous teaching of the Fathers 
on this subject it is Tertullian's treatise on Prescription. And 
at first sight it might seem that this is opposed to our views, 
for the main point it is intended to establish is, that we ought 
not to argue with heretics out of the Scripture, but put them 
down by an appeal to antiquity or to the authority of the 
Church. And in reading this tract we recognize, with a 
little surprise, some of the arguments Roman Catholics are 

* De Bapt. Cont. Donatt. II. 4, vol. ix., p. 98. t Cont. Crescon. II. 40, vol. ix., p. 430. 
\ In Matth. xxiii. 35. Adv. Helmd. || In Aggaei Proph. cap. i. II. 


in the habit of employing against us. Now, in the first place, 
I must observe, that it is a misrepresentation of the senti- 
ments of the Fathers, as it would be of any set of men, when 
arguments which they have used in one controversy are 
applied to another which was not in their minds when they 
were writing. Very few people are such cautious disputants 
as not occasionally to use arguments which prove too much ; 
which, though 6 very effective for the immediate purpose to 
which they are applied, might on another occasion prove 
very inconvenient. Not unfrequently at the present day 
Roman Catholics and Protestants, arguing together, use argu- 
ments which an infidel might retort with effect against either ; 
or, conversely, men arguing against infidels use principles 
which a Roman Catholic might be glad to have admitted. 

Now, on looking into this treatise on Prescription, you will 
find that nothing could be further from the mind of its author 
than to inculcate a belief in any doctrine not contained in 
Scripture. Neither here nor elsewhere does Tertullian show 
a wish to do so. The doctrines which in this tract Tertullian 
desires to defend are the most elementary Articles of the Creed, 
and all lie on the very surface of the Bible. You will find 
that there was reason in Tertullian's assertion, that it was 
not possible to dispose of the heretics with whom he had to 
deal by Scripture arguments : for you can only argue with 
people on principles which you and they hold in common, and 
the Scriptures were not common ground between the Church 
and the heretics of the second century. The Gnostic heretics 
whom he had in view denied the most fundamental Articles 
of the Christian faith. Their theories made matter the root 
of all evil : consequently, they could not believe that the 
Supreme Being, whom they called the Good God, was the 
Creator of the world a work which they attributed to some 
subordinate, or even hostile Being. This Being they took 
to be the God of the Jews, who in the Old Testament had 
claimed the work of creation as His own ; consequently, they 
held that the Old Testament was contrary to the New, and 
that Jesus was not the Messiah of the Jewish prophets. They 
could not believe that Christ had assumed a material body, 

L 2 

148 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

that He had been really born, or really died, or that there 
would be any future resurrection of the body. Now you can 
well believe that it was labour lost to argue out of the 
Scriptures with people who held such views as these. You 
could tell them nothing as to the difference between their 
teaching and that of the Bible that they must not have 
known perfectly well before you spoke to them. 

They were prepared, however, with different modes of 
meeting the difficulty. They generally claimed to be in 
the possession of secret traditions of our Lord or His 
Apostles; for it was in the Gnostic sects that the idea of 
supplementing or superseding Scripture by tradition first was 
conceived. They had a number of Gospels of their own 
containing these traditions, while they rejected some of the 
most inconvenient parts of our Canonical books. But one 
sect, the Valentinians, were content with the Church Canon,, 
finding that the allegorical method of interpretation which 
prevailed in Egypt, the birthplace of that sect, might be 
used with as much success in eliciting the Gnostic tenets 
from the Bible, as it had been employed by orthodox inter- 
preters in deriving the doctrines which they believed to be 
true. You can easily c.onceive that men who dealt in such 
arbitrary fashion with the Bible had no common ground on 
which the orthodox could battle with them by Scripture 
arguments. In order to refute the Gnostic pretence of secret 
traditions, the Churches took pains to establish their own con- 
nexion with the Apostles, so as to make it appear that if any 
such traditions there were, it must be the Churches which 
had the possession of them. It was with this object that we 
find pains first taken to trace the successions of bishops; for 
whatever opinion you may entertain as to the form of Church 
government in the primitive Church, this, at least, is indisput- 
able ; that at the beginning of the last quarter of the second 
century there were bishops everywhere, and no memory sur- 
vived that any other form of government had ever existed. 
Several of the great Churches claimed to be able to give lists 
of their bishops reaching up to the Apostles' times, and so 
they conceived that they established their right against the 


Gnostics to be regarded as the sole possessors of genuine 
Apostolic traditions. With this explanation you can better 
appreciate the line taken by Tertullian in his treatise on 
Prescription, a legal term with which Tertullian, as an advo- 
cate, was familiar, his object being to bar the right of these 
heretics to argue out of Scripture at all. 

Tertullian begins by refuting the two principles, on 
one or other of which must rest the Gnostic claim to have 
a secret tradition unknown to the Church at large. This 
would imply either that the Apostles did not know the 
whole truth, or that, knowing it, they did not communicate 
it to those whom they taught. In disproving these two 
suppositions, Tertullian, at the same time, demolishes the 
modern theory of Development. Then complaining that 
no satisfactory result is arrived at by arguing out of Scrip- 
ture with heretics, who either did not acknowledge the 
Books received by the Church, or who mutilated and 
corrupted them, or who distorted their meaning by perverse 
interpretation, he proposes a shorter method of dealing with 
them, namely, to deny their right to use the Scriptures at all. 
The Scriptures had been given, not to them, but to the 
Churches who agreed in doctrine with Tertullian. Consult 
any of the Churches to which the Apostolic letters had been 
written. If you are in Achaia, consult Corinth; if in Mace- 
donia, consult the Church of Philippi ; if in Italy, or, like those 
whom Tertullian addressed, in Africa, consult the neighbouring 
Church of Rome, and you will find all those Churches agree 
in maintaining the same doctrine. Now truth is uniform, 
but it is the very nature of error to be continually assuming 
new shapes. If the Churches had erred they would have 
erred after many different fashions. Whence, then, arises this 
surprising agreement in error? The single point that the 
same doctrine is maintained by so many different Churches, 
situate in distant quarters of the globe, affords a strong pre- 
sumption of its truth. Where one and the same thing is 
found among many, this is not error but tradition. And lastly, 
truth came first, error afterwards : we cannot believe that the 
Gospel was for so many years wrongly preached, so many 

150 THE RULE OF FAITH. [ix. 

thousands wrongly baptized, so many miracles wrongly 
wrought, so many martyrdoms wrongly crowned, and that 
all this time truth was waiting for Marcion or Valentinus 
to set her free. 

Such is the argument of the treatise on Prescription.* It is 
an argument from tradition independent of Scripture; and if 
we had to own it to be a bad one, Tertullian would be neither 
the first nor the last who has defended a good cause by weak 
arguments. But I will not be deterred from saying, that I 
think the argument, on the whole, a good and successful one, 
even though Romanists do employ somewhat similar argu- 
ments against ourselves. For, first, as I said before, we may 
believe that tradition could successfully carry the knowledge 
of the facts stated in the Apostles' Creed through a century 
without believing that it could carry the doctrine of Pope 
Pius's Creed through nineteen. Tertullian uses the argu- 
ment, Where was your religion before Marcion or Valentinus ? 
and I think it a good one, even though Roman Catholics 
do ask us, Where was your religion before Martin Luther ? 
If what Luther or Calvin taught was really as great a novelty 
in the history of Christianity, and as unlike what had been 
taught before as what Valentinus taught was when it ap- 
peared, we should do well in rejecting it. What we receive 
we accept, because we believe it to be, not new error, but 
old truth. And, lastly, the argument from the unity of diffe- 
rent Churches, which Tertullian urged with so much force,, 
loses all its power in the hands of Roman Catholics. That a 
number of different and widely separated Churches, each of 
which was, a century ago, in direct and independent com- 
munication with the Apostles, should now all agree in teaching 
the same doctrines, affords a strong presumption that those 
doctrines are Apostolic ; but that a number of different 
Churches who are all in direct communication with the 
Bishop of Rome, and who are taught that they are bound to 
submit to him implicitly, and that it is a sin to reject anything 
which he teaches to them, that these should all agree in 

* In this argument Tertullian is much indebted to Irenaeus. See, in particular, 
the beginning of his third book. 


teaching- the same doctrine proves no more than that the doc- 
trine is Roman. In order that an argument from agreement of 
witnesses should have any force, it is absolutely necessary 
that the witnesses should be independent. If a number of 
manuscript copies, written by different persons from the same 
original, agree, that agreement furnishes a strong presump- 
tion of the correctness of their common reading; but that 
several copies of the same edition of a printed book agree 
proves nothing at all. Thus the tyranny of Rome cuts her 
off from the use of this topic of evidence to the truth of her 
teaching. If there are any remedies which are recognized 
as effectual by physicians of different countries, brought up 
in different schools, it may be presumed that such remedies 
really have the merits ascribed to them ; but it proves nothing 
in favour of Holloway's pills, that those sold by different ven- 
dors, in different towns, turn out on analysis to be exactly 
the same. In short, the agreement of different Churches, 
in teaching the same doctrine, undoubtedly proves that this 
teaching must have had a common origin ; but the question 
remains, whether that common origin was the teaching of 
the Apostles, or whether we can trace this concordant teach- 
ing to a common origin very much later than the Apostles. 
I have spent all this time on Tertullian's treatise, because I 
thought that fairness required me to dwell on what seemed to 
make against us, even though it be quite an exception to the 
general tenor of Patristical language and practice with regard 
to the controversial use of Scripture ; while I have passed 
over in a summary way all that made for us, because it 
seemed superfluous to bring up one witness after another all 
to say the same thing. 



O OMETHING must now be said as to a lower claim that 
O has been made for tradition ; it has been put forward by 
some, not as an independent source of information, but as an 
interpreter of Scripture. Modest as that claim sounds, it 
might easily be so used as to supersede Scripture altogether. 
If we had a guide who could only speak to us in a language 
we did not understand, the interpreter who translated for 
us his directions would be our real guide. In the reign of 
Charles the First there were some who professed readiness to 
obey the commands of the king, as notified to them by Parlia- 
ment ; but, practically, it amounted to exactly the same as 
refusing to obey the king, if Parliament were recognized as 
his only mouthpiece. Accordingly, it was one of Cardinal 
Newman's not least surprising feats of ingenuity, and yet in 
real truth not the most difficult, to show that, on the subject 
of the Sixth Article, the difference between the true meaning 
of the Church of England and the Church of Rome was more 
apparent than real. Writing to Dr. Pusey, he says : ' The 
opposing parties attach different meanings to the word 
"proof" in the controversy whether the whole faith is or is 
not contained in Scripture. Roman Catholics mean that not 
every Article is so contained there, that it may thence be 
legally proved, independently of the teaching and authority 
of tradition. But Anglicans mean that every Article is 
so contained there that it may thence be proved, provided 
that there be added the illustrations and compensations of 
tradition ; and it is in this latter sense that I conceive that the 
Fathers also speak. I am sure, at least, that St. Athanasius 


frequently adduces passages in proof of points in controversy 
which no one could see to be proofs unless Apostolic tra- 
dition were taken into account, first as suggesting, then as 
authoritatively ruling, their meaning. Thus you Anglicans 
do not deny that the whole is not in Scripture, in such sense 
that pure unaided logic can draw it from the Sacred Text, nor 
do Roman Catholics deny that the faith is in Scripture in an 
improper sense, that tradition is able to recognize it, and 
determine it there.'* 

The opinions which Newman ascribes here to Anglicans 
may have been those of Dr. Pusey, whom he was address- 
ing, but I am sure they were not those of the framers of 
our Article, nor do I believe they were those of the Fathers 
whom I have quoted. It is highly ingenious, but far from 
satisfactory, to oppose the practice of Athanasius to his 
theory. His theory was expressed in the words, ' The Holy 
and Inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the 
preaching of the Truth.' f ' These [canonical books] are the 
fountains of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satis- 
fied with the oracles contained in them : in these alone 
the school of piety preaches the Gospel : let no man add 
to or take from them' (Fest. Ep. 39). Against this we are 
asked to set the fact that some of the Scripture proofs 
which he himself offers are not what to our minds would 
be conclusive ; and thence to infer that when he undertakes 
to give Scripture proof, he only means something which, in 
his own mind, might pass for proof, but be quite incapable 
of standing logical examination. In what a light is this 
to represent the venerable Father ! When Abraham refused 
to accept land from the Hittite chieftain as a gift, but insisted 
on paying its value, we are told that he weighed the price in 
silver current money with the merchant ; but if Abraham had. 
given bad weight in money that would not pass, Ephron 
would feel that he had been much worse dealt with than if his 

* See also Newman, On the Development of Christian Doctrine, chap. vi. sec. I. 

t Cont. Gentes, i. I. In this place Athanasius teaches the doctrine we have laid 
down, both as to the sufficiency of Scripture and as to the advantage of human 
instruction in it. 


land had been taken without payment. And so it would be 
much more straightforward dealing for a Church to ask that 
we should take her word without any proof, than to offer to 
give us proof, and then let us find out that we had got to take 
her word what was proof, and what was not. You may be 
sure that Athanasius did not offer any Scripture proofs that, 
according to his own principles of interpretation, he did not 
believe to be good. We are offered every day by Protestants 
Scripture proofs, which in our judgments are not good proofs j 
but that gives us no right to suppose that it is only in some 
non-natural sense they hold the sufficiency of Scripture. Nay, 
rather it is the firmness with which they hold that principle 
which urges them, in their deep conviction of the necessity of 
offering Scripture proofs for their doctrines, sometimes to 
press into their service texts which to a sober judgment do 
not seem conclusive. 

Is tradition, then, of no use in the interpretation of Scrip- 
ture ? I believe it has its uses, and important uses, both 
positive and negative, though its range is more limited than 
its advocates would have us believe. To speak first of its 
negative use, we must grant that a new-fangled interpre- 
tation of Scripture has to encounter a great presumption 
against it, arising from the probability that if this were the 
true interpretation it would not be left for this generation to 
discover it. I don't say that it is more than a presumption, 
or that previous students have so sounded all the depths of 
Scripture as to make it impossible for a late commentator to 
discover anything which his predecessors have overlooked ; 
but still it is a presumption, and one which, in some cases, 
may rise to something like certainty. Take the text, * Thou 
art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church.' Accord- 
ing to modern Romanists this is the charter text of the whole 
constitution of the Church. By it Peter and his successors 
were made the governors of the Church, to whom it was to 
resort for the decision of every dispute, and the solution of 
every problem. Well, if that had been the true meaning of 
the text, the other Apostles would have so understood it, at 
least after their minds had been enlightened by the Holy 


Spirit on the day of Pentecost ; and they would have taught 
its meaning to the Churches which they founded. The whole 
Church would have acted on this rule from the first, and the 
true meaning of the text on which the rule was founded could 
never have been forgotten. When we find then, on the con- 
trary, that this is a text on which the greatest diversity of 
interpretation prevailed among the early Fathers, that a great 
majority of them do not find in the text a bestowal of per- 
sonal prerogatives even on Peter, and that none of them find 
the Bishop of Rome there, then we can confidently say that 
historical tradition excludes the modern Roman interpreta- 
tion, because it is absolutely incredible that, if this had been/ 
the right one, it should be entirely lost and forgotten, and 
not recovered for four or five centuries. 

Then, again, I believe that, in matters of ritual or other 
positive institution, tradition can do more useful service 
than in matter of abstract doctrine. An illustration or 
two will make my meaning plainer. One example is often 
brought forward by Roman Catholic writers. When our 
Lord washed His disciples' feet He said to them, 'If I, then, 
your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought 
also to wash one another's feet ; for I have given you an 
example that ye should do as I have done unto you.' We in- 
terpret this precept in the spirit, not in the letter. We hold 
that our Lord, by performing a menial office for His disciples, 
designed to impress on them more forcibly by a visible sign 
the precept by which He had before rebuked their ambitious 
conflicts, 'The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion 
over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon 
them, but it shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be 
great among you, let him be your minister ; and whosoever 
will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as 
the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minis- 
ter, and to give His life a ransom for many.' But we are 
asked, how do we know that we are not to interpret this pre- 
cept literally. May it not be the case that, in omitting 
actually to wash one another's feet, we are neglecting a 
Sacramental rite instituted by our Lord Himself? I think we 


must here concede to the Roman Catholic that the usage of 
the Church is not without weight in settling this question, 
and that we are all affected by it in our judgment on this 
matter, even if we are not aware of it. For suppose that the 
usage had been different suppose that from time imme- 
morial it had been the practice at Christian meetings for wor- 
ship that this precept of our Lord's had been read out, and 
that then some proceeded to wash the feet of others I do 
not think that we should then hesitate to give a literal mean- 
ing to the words recorded by St. John, and that we should 
have scrupled to think it sufficient, as we do now, to comply 
with the spirit of the command. 

Something of the same kind may be said with reference 
to the Sacraments. If we are asked why we think that 
sprinkling is sufficient compliance with our Lord's com- 
mand to baptize, it seems to me that it is practically a 
good answer to say that the Church has always so under- 
stood it, for the question cannot be determined either way 
without an appeal to tradition in some form or another. 
For, after all, lexicons are only an embodiment of tradition, 
and it is an appeal to tradition which must settle what is the 
meaning of the Greek word /3a7rn'w. One example more. 
The Council of Trent, as I already told you, informs us that 
the Church has learned by tradition, that in the words of St. 
James are taught the matter, the form, the proper minister, 
and the effect of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. Well, 
if in place of taking the word of the Council of Trent, we 
examine into the tradition for ourselves, we find the facts 
quite the opposite to the assertion of the Council. We find 
that the anointing of the sick, whose recovery was not aimed 
at or expected, was a comparatively modern practice, arising 
not out of a traditional, but quite a private, interpretation of 
the well-known words of St. James, and that those who first 
introduced the practice were quite at sea as to the proper way 
of carrying it out, with regard to points on which they 
would have needed no instruction if this had been a Sacra- 
ment of Apostolic institution. I will freely own that my 
judgment on this so-called Sacrament would be quite different 


from what it is now if there had been historic evidence of 
the descent of the practice from the Apostolic age. Other 
instances of the same kind might be given, but I have said 
enough to show that, in rejecting tradition, it is not our wish 
arbitrarily to cut ourselves off from using any source of infor- 
mation that may be accessible to us. We are willing to give 
its due weight to anything that can be established on 
sufficient evidence, but we will not set aside the obvious 
meaning of Scripture, on the mere presumption that the 
currency of doctrines opposed to Scripture must have origi- 
nated in tradition. 

It remains for me to speak of the province of hermeneuti- 
cal tradition on points, not of ritual, but of abstract doctrine. 
And here a very obvious remark may be made that the use 
of a text at any time, to prove a doctrine, if it does not prove 
that use of the text to be the right one, at least shows that 
those who so employed it believed the doctrine which they 
alleged that text to prove. Thus, in modern Roman Catholic 
books of devotion, you may find a text from Canticles cited in 
the form, 'Thou art all fair, my love, and there is no spot of 
original sin in thee,' and used to prove the Immaculate Con- 
ception of the Virgin Mary. We are not bound to believe 
that to be the true meaning of the text ; but we cannot deny 
that its being now so used would prove at any future time 
that the Church of Rome in the nineteenth century believed 
in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. It gains little 
for a doctrine to prove that the Church of the nineteenth cen- 
tury believed it, but it is of great importance to know how the 
Church of the first century believed, for it is reasonable to 
think that any doctrines in which the Churches that were 
taught by the Apostles agreed were part of the Apostles' 
teaching. And so at any time the current interpretations of 
Scripture are an excellent index to the doctrine of the Church 
at the time ; and the nearer the age is to the Apostles, the 
more valuable is the knowledge what the doctrine was. I 
make this remark with reference to a class of interpretations 
which, no doubt, Newman had in his mind when he spoke 
of some of the interpretations of Athanasius as not being 
logically defensible. 


There is a class of interpretations with such antiquity 
to recommend them, that if any interpretations can make 
a claim to have been imposed by tradition, these can. The 
doctrine of them is in perfect agreement with our own, 
and yet there are many of them to which we should not 
now like to pledge ourselves at least we should not like to 
use them in controversy against opponents, as some of the 
ancient Fathers did not scruple to do. To the early Fathers 
all the Old Testament spoke of Christ. They found Him in a 
number of places where, without their help, we should not 
discover Him. We have every reason to think that the Book 
of Psalms furnished a large part of the Christian service from 
the very earliest times. There is no part of the Old Testament 
which the early Fathers seem to have so completely at their 
fingers' ends, or quote so accurately and so frequently. And 
here in particular they recognize our Lord as the subject of 
every Psalm. Now, though we may be willing to admit some 
of their Messianic interpretations of the Old Testament as 
certain, others as probable, it is impossible for a modern mind 
to accept them all. Take, for example, this one, which by 
reason of its venerable antiquity has as good a right to be 
accepted as an interpretation imposed by tradition as any 
that can be named. I refer to a discovery made in the Epistle 
of Barnabas, which many learned men have accepted as by 
the Apostle of that name ; and though I do not myself agree 
with their opinion, the work is certainly one of the earliest of 
uninspired Christian writings. Finding in his Greek Bible 
the number of servants with whom Abraham pursued the 
kings to be three hundred and eighteen, or in Greek nume- 
ral letters rtrj, Barnabas in the last two letters, t, rj, at once 
discovers Jesus. But what, then, is Tau ? Tau is the cross, 
which in shape it resembled. Barnabas declares this to be 
one of the most valuable pieces of instruction he had ever 
communicated, but says that those whom he addressed were 
worthy of it. And, accordingly, several who came after him 
thought it worth stealing from him. But I need not say that 
modern critics are not able to believe in a Messianic prophecy 
committed to the Old Testament, but intended to remain an 


impenetrable secret until its Hebrew came to be translated 
into Greek. 

There are other Patristical Messianic interpretations, the 
case for rejecting which is not quite so clear as this one, 
yet clear enough to make us absolutely refuse to allow early 
tradition to impose on us interpretations of Scripture. In 
fact, if a man gives a far-fetched interpretation of Scripture 
we are not bound to receive it, because it is a long time 
ago since he did it, and because a great many people have 
repeated it after him. I am quite satisfied to take as illus- 
trating my principles the texts which Cardinal Newman 
(Development, p. 324) instances as brought forward by Nicene 
and ante-Nicene writers as palmary proofs of our Lord's 
Divinity. The first is the beginning of the 45th Psalm, of 
which the Septuagint translation is 'E^peu^aro 17 icapS/a /uou 
Xoyov ayaOov. If hermeneutic tradition is entitled to impose 
an interpretation on us, we are certainly bound to understand 
this passage as referring to the Eternal Generation of the 
Divine Logos. But I observe that the late revisers of the 
Old Testament have not materially altered the old render- 
ing, 'My heart is inditing a good matter' ; and certainly I 
should feel much embarrassed in controversially maintaining 
the views I hold concerning our Lord's Divinity if I were 
compelled to find them in this passage. Newman's second 
example is the passage (Prov. viii. 22) icuptoe EKTHTC /ue apx*!" 
oSwy avTov. Orthodox and Arian interpreters agreed that 
these words related to our Blessed Lord, their only point of 
difference being how the word rendered KKTKTS was to be 
understood. But looking on hermeneutic tradition as a 
guide, but not as an infallible guide, I feel myself free to 
decline to accept some Messianic interpretations which are 
supported by a very strong consensus of early opinion. 

If, however, without insisting on details, we look to the 
general spirit of the early Patristical interpretation of the 
Old Testament, we find what I think may be granted to be 
an Apostolic tradition ; I mean the principle that the Old 
Testament is not contrary to the New the principle that 
it was Jesus of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did 


write He whom in a thousand types the Mosaic institutions, 
nay, the Old Testament history, was in God's providence 
ordained to foreshadow. Here it is quite possible for a 
Christian reader to recognize types that he could not urge in 
controversy against a Jew or a Socinian. In the investiga- 
tions of last Term I found, in many cases, that there were 
verbal coincidences between the language of very early 
writers and that of our Gospels, which left no doubt on my own 
mind that these writers had used the Gospels; and yet, it was 
not possible to demonstrate that anyone was wrong who 
might choose to say that the coincidence was only accidental. 
There is nothing illogical in this method of proceeding. If 
we have independent evidence that a book was in circulation, 
or that a doctrine was current, at the time when a particular 
author wrote, then a very slight casual allusion might suffice 
to convince us that he had read the book, or that he held 
the doctrine, though, without independent confirmation, the 
evidence might not be at all conclusive. So, if we have inde- 
pendent evidence that our Lord was such as no other man 
was, and that He came to do a work such as no other man did 
or could have done, then it becomes more probable than not 
that He did not burst on the world without having His 
coming prepared for; and if we believe in the Divine inspira- 
tion of the Old Testament Prophets, we are at once ready to 
believe that they were commissioned to speak of Him. That 
this was the attitude of mind in which the Apostles had 
trained the Churches which they founded is, I think, demon- 
strated by the general tone of the Old Testament interpre- 
tation of the early Church : and in establishing this point 
hermeneutic tradition does us valuable service. And if we 
are compelled to acknowledge that the disciples often outran 
their masters, and pushed their principles to indefensible 
extremes, we are not obliged to follow to those extremes 
guides whom we do not consider infallible ; yet the evidence 
remains unshaken of the Apostolic character of that tradition 
of the dignity of Christ's person and work which lies at the 
foundation of these interpretations. 

We might, indeed, use the early hermeneutical tradition 


to draw a doctrinal conclusion of a negative character. As 
the early Church saw Christ everywhere in the Bible, so the 
modern Church of Rome sees the Virgin Mary everywhere. 
One example I mentioned incidentally just now. Well, I 
think it is a very significant fact that early Patristical inter- 
pretation is altogether blind to indications of the dignity of 
the Blessed Virgin. In the book of Revelation, the woman 
clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and 
on her head a crown of twelve stars, who brought forth the man 
child, and then was made to flee into the wilderness (chap, xii.), 
in which description modern Romanists find a prediction of 
the glory of the Virgin, is by the ancient commentators, with 
absolute unanimity, understood of the Church.* You know 
what meaning the phrase ' the Virgin Mother' would bear in 
a modern book : in an ancient writer it would as certainly 
mean the Church,f and he would not seem to dream that any 
other meaning could be put on his words. We cannot help 
inferring that the Virgin Mary did not fill the place in the 
thoughts of men of those days that she has come to fill in 
recent times. The examples I have given will show that, 
while we hold ourselves perfectly free to criticize very ancient 
interpretations of Scripture, and so hold what is called her- 
meneutic tradition to be as far as possible from being an 
infallible guide, yet the study of these interpretations may 
throw most important light on the doctrinal principles of the 
ancient Church. 

I must not pass from this subject of Patristical inter- 
pretation without adding a little to a few words I said last 
Term about the two great schools of interpretation, the 
Alexandrian and the Syrian. Alexandria was the home of 
the allegorical method. It had flourished there from pre- 
Christian times. Homer was the Bible of the Greeks ; yet, 
as culture advanced, the stories told of the gods, both by the 
great poet and by other authorities who had gained popular 
belief, were felt to be such as could not be reconciled with 
the honour of the divinities. Then apologists invoked the 

* See, for example, Hippolytus, On Christ and Antichrist, 61. 
t See the letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons (Euseb. ff. E. v. I.). 



aid of allegory : Jupiter only meant the upper air, Poseidon 
was the sea, Apollo the sun. We were not to suppose that 
Apollo descended in person to shoot his arrows for seven 
days ; what was intended was that the sun beat with his rays 
on the damp ground, and so caused a pestilence which was 
destructive to the Grecian host; and in like manner other 
myths apparently degrading to the character of the gods 
were explained away, as mere modes of expressing certain 
physical facts. Thus the Jewish apologists found the method 
of allegory ready to their hands when cavils were made by 
the heathen philosophers of Alexandria against statements 
in the Jewish sacred books. The great Alexandrian Jew, 
Philo, whose works largely remain, freely had recourse to 
allegorical explanations when objections were made to the 
morality of parts of the Mosaic narrative so freely, that the 
historic character of the narrative was in danger of disap- 
pearing. In this school were brought up some of the greatest 
ornaments of the Alexandrian school of Christian philo- 
sophy. Clement was a careful student and a warm admirer 
of Philo. Clement's successor, Origen, carried to still greater 
lengths the allegorical method. The spiritual meaning was 
the soul ; the literal, only the body ; and in his hands the 
literal meaning often ran the risk of being quite evaporated 
away. If ever the literal sense presented a difficulty, or what 
looked like a contradiction, allegory afforded an immediate 
solution of it. If hermeneutic tradition had a right to force 
interpretations on our acceptance, it would be in the case of 
some of those allegorical interpretations of the Alexandrian 
school ; so early was their origin, so wide was the acceptance 
they gained, so generally were their principles adopted. 

I look upon St. Ambrose as one of the chief agents in natu- 
ralizing many of these expositions in the West. From being 
a heathen magistrate he was made a bishop ; but he was an 
able man and a good Greek scholar, and he speedily laid 
some of the most celebrated Greek theologians under contri- 
bution for his sermons and treatises. From Origen he drew 
much, both directly and indirectly ; and what he drew he 
passed on to his pupil St. Augustine, and through him to the 


Western Church generally. St. Augustine constantly adopts 
the principle that an apparent contradiction between two texts 
of Scripture is to be regarded as an index pointing out that 
allegorical interpretation must be resorted to. If I were to 
think of giving you examples of interpretations of this school, 
in which all regard to the context or to the circumstances of 
the sacred writer is lost sight of, specimens are so abundant, 
that there is great difficulty in selection. Here is an expla- 
nation from St. Jerome of a difficult passage in Ecclesiastes 
(xi. 2) of which we should certainly be glad to welcome a good 
explanation. The text is : ' Give a portion to seven, and 
also to eight ; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon 
the earth.' St. Jerome's explanation is : ' The number seven 
denotes the Old Testament, because of the Sabbath therein 
enjoined to be celebrated on the seventh day ; the number 
eight denotes the New Testament, because the Saviour rose 
on the eighth day. The text, then, directs us not to restrict 
our faith, as the Jews do, to the Old Testament ; nor, as do 
the Marcionites, Manichees, and other heretics, to the New. 
We must believe both Testaments, for " we know not what 
evil shall be upon the earth" ; that is to say, we cannot com- 
prehend now the merited tortures and punishments reserved 
for those who are upon earth, namely, for the Jews and 
heretics who deny either Testament.' This book of Eccle- 
siastes does not strike us as the most Messianic of Old Testa- 
ment books ; but Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome find Christ 
and the Gospel in every line. Thus, ' There is one alone, and 
there is not a second ; yea, he hath neither child nor brother : 
yet is there no end of all his labour ; neither is his eye satis- 
fied with riches ; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, 
and bereave my soul of good ? This also is vanity' (Eccles. 
iv. 8). Here is the commentary : ' This is Christ ; for He 
is one, and there is not a second, for He came to save 
the world without any companion. He has not a brother; 
for, though many sons of God are by adoption brethren 
of Christ, none could be joined with Him in the work 
of Redemption. Of His labour and suffering for our sins 
there is no end ; man cannot comprehend the greatness 



thereof.' "The eye is not satisfied" &c., means that Christ is 
never weary in seeking our salvation. The text goes on, 
" Two are better than one" ; that is to say, it is better to have 
Christ with us than to be alone, open to the snares of the 
enemy. " If two lie together, they shall have heat ; but how 
can one be warm alone ?" that is, if any should lie in the 
grave, yet, if he have Christ with him, he shall be warmed, 
and, being quickened, shall live again. Other passages, 
directing to eat bread with a merry heart, &c., plainly refer 
to the use of the Sacraments. 

I take a few other examples from a collection of an- 
swers to heathen objections made by a Greek disciple and 
admirer of Origen, from whom these answers were derived.* 
The objection is : ' No Christian now has faith, even as much 
as a grain of mustard seed ; for not one is able to say to a 
mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea/ 
Answer. 'Mountain here does not mean a literal mountain, 
but a devil, as in Jer. li. 25 : " Behold, I am against thee, 
O destroying mountain, which destroyest all the earth." 
He does not say, if thou shalt say to a mountain, but unto 
this mountain, namely, the devil, which had been just cast 
out.' This was one of the Eastern comments imported by 
Ambrose (in Ps. xxxvi. 35). So, again, the heathen ob- 
jects to the credibility of Paul's statement that we shall be 
caught up in the clouds. The apologist explains that 'clouds' 
does not mean literal clouds, but angels, as in the texts, ' I 
will charge the clouds that they rain no rain upon it,' or 
* Clouds and darkness are round about Him.' Once more, 
the heathen objects that the agony in the garden shows our 
Lord to have been weaker in courage than many men have 
proved themselves in like circumstances. The apologist 
answers, that our Lord's display of weakness was made only 
to lure the devil on to the last assault, in which his power 
would be broken for ever. The devil had been holding back, 
suspecting our Lord's divinity. Our Lord, therefore, not 
really wishing that His cup might pass, but that He might 

* Macarius Magnes, Apocritica. 


drink it as soon as possible, enticed the devil on, and caught 
him by baiting the hook of His divinity with the worm of 
His humanity ; and this is the meaning of the verse, Psalm 
xxii. 6, ' I am a worm, and no man.' This interpretation is 
certainly Origen's ; and I need not give other examples to 
show why, with every admiration for the ability and inge- 
nuity of Fathers of this school, we think it better to do 
without their help in the interpretation of Scripture, be- 
lieving that, as Lord Bacon says, * a lame man on the right 
road will come to his journey's end sooner than the fleetest 
runner on a wrong one/ Thus, there are thirty-five books 
of Gregory the Great's Commentary on Job. They may 
be very valuable to anyone who cares to know what were 
the opinions of Gregory upon various subjects, but to a 
person anxious to know the meaning of the Book of Job they 
are absolutely worthless. I own, however, I look with some 
envy on those who can adopt these principles of interpreta- 
tion ; for it is immensely more easy for an ingenious man 
to write sermons if he uses a principle of interpretation 
which will enable a preacher to get any doctrine out of 
any text. 

The founder of a healthier system of interpretation is said 
to have been Diodorus of Tarsus ; but scarcely anything of 
his remains ; and it is Theodore of Mopsuestia whom we 
have the means of knowing as the initiator of the literal 
school of interpretation. I do not say he had not prede- 
cessors. Besides his master Diodorus, Lucian the Martyr is 
said to have been one. But Theodore wrote a special treatise 
against Origen and the Allegorists, and founded a school of 
interpretation, to which belonged some of the greatest orna- 
ments of the Syrian Church. His principle was to look care- 
fully to the context, and to the circumstances of the sacred 
writer ; consequently he interprets passages of David, or 
Solomon, or Hezekiah, which his predecessors had understood 
of Christ. You may imagine, therefore, that his system had 
much violent opposition to encounter ; and it may very pos- 
sibly be true that Theodore, in his reaction against the 
allegorizers, went into the other extreme, and insisted too 


mechanically on his rule that, if one part of a passage 
related to a contemporary person, a spiritual explanation 
must not be given to any other part ; or that, if there was any 
one verse in a Psalm which was not applicable to Christ, 
none of it could be so. However this may be, it is the com- 
mentators of this school who have produced the only exe- 
getical works which a modern student can read continuously 
with pleasure and profit. Great part, for instance, of Chry- 
sostom's Homilies have not been superseded as intelligent 
and successful attempts to bring out the true meaning of the 
author on whom he comments. This is far indeed from 
being Cardinal Newman's opinion, and the language in 
which he expresses his aversion to the Syrian school of exe- 
gesis is strong enough to meet the demerits of any heresy.* 
He traces Arianism to the influence of the methods ofLucian, 
already mentioned, though it is certain that Diodorus was 
free from any Arian taint. But it cannot be denied that the 
leading Nestorians were disciples of Theodore. It will be 
useful for you to bear in memory that Nestorianism is a 
Syrian, as Eutychianism is an Alexandrian heresy. The 
rationalizing tendencies of the Syrian school harmonize with 
the Nestorian accentuation of the human nature of our 
Lord. Independently of this, from the nature of the case, 
the Syrian interpreters, being obliged to reject a multitude 
of explanations that had been long current and had the 
support of venerable names, were on the side of human 
reason against traditional authority ; and so we can under- 
stand Newman's antipathy to those who were the Protestants 
of their day. 

It is not my purpose to trace at length the history of 
mediaeval interpretation. Origen had counted three senses of 
Scripture the literal, the moral, and the mystical which he 
compared to the trichotomy of body, soul, and spirit in the 
nature of man. In the middle ages these three had increased 
to four the literal, the moral, the allegorical, and the ana- 
gogical this last being appropriated to those allegorical 

* See the passage in the essay On Development, already referred to ; and Arians 
of the Fourth Century, chap, i., and Appendix. 


explanations which relate to the future state. Thus, according 
to an example commonly given, the Sabbath, according to 
the moral sense, would mean a resting from sin ; according 
to the allegorical, the rest of our Lord in the grave ; and, 
according to the anagogical, the future rest in the kingdom of 
God. These were summed up in the memorial lines 

' Littera gesta docet ; quid credas allegoria ; 
Moralis quid agas ; quo tendis anagogia.' 

In truth, the latter three senses are but subdivisions of what 
we should simply describe as allegorical, without feeling any 
need of subdivision. 

But my main object now is to point out the necessity of 
extreme caution in the use of the allegorical method. If this 
be relied on as singly sufficient to prove a doctrine of which 
no other valid proof can be found, then tradition really be- 
comes the mistress of Scripture ; for then, though we profess 
to deduce our doctrine from Scripture, we really bring it into 
it first, according to the lines 

1 Hie liber est in quo quserit sua dogmata quisque, 
Invenit et pariter dogmata quisque sua.' 

Roman Catholic controversialists have called the Bible a 
nose of wax, which any man can twist as he pleases. This 
is true if you adopt the allegorical method of interpretation ; 
or rather then, if it had been a nose of iron, it would make no 
difference, so powerful is the wrenching instrument employed. 
Origen's Commentary on St. John contains copious extracts 
from the previous commentary by the Valentinian Heracleon ; 
for it is curious that the earliest known continuous commen- 
tary on a New Testament book is by this heretic. And 
Heracleon, who was evidently a disciple of the same school 
of allegorical interpretation, has no difficulty in finding Valen- 
tinianism in St. John's Gospel, by interpretations which seem 
to me not a whit more forced or unnatural than many which 
are used by Origen himself to deduce orthodox doctrine. 

I am not now lecturing on the interpretation of Scripture, 
and therefore cannot enter into some discussions which would 


properly come before us if this were my main subject. But I 
have thought it necessary to say something about different 
schools of interpretation, because the question we have been 
discussing between Scripture and tradition becomes practi- 
cally unimportant if allegorical interpretation be freely em- 
ployed. When this method is used, a proof may pretend to- 
be derived from Scripture alone ; but, in real truth, tradition 
is the foundation of the fabric. 



I HAVE, in previous Lectures, sufficiently discussed the 
abstract question, whether God has provided for us any 
infallible guidance ; and I consider that I have shown that 
there is not the least reason to think that with respect to 
religious truth God has dealt with us in a manner contrary 
to all His other dealings with us, by giving us such secure, 
never-failing means of arriving at knowledge as shall relieve 
us from the trouble of search and inquiry, and shall make 
error impossible. I propose now to lay before you such 
evidence as will show that, whether there be anywhere an 
infallible Church or not, the Church of Rome certainly is not. 

You may, perhaps, think that this is a little waste of time;, 
for, if no Church be infallible, it follows at once that the 
Church of Rome is not. It is true that, in the present con- 
troversy, I constantly feel tempted to give points to our 
opponents. In the attempt to establish their case, they 
make so many false assumptions, that, if we make them a 
present of one, they are under no less difficulty when they 
come to the next step in the argument. But it is not as a 
mere matter of generosity that I refrain from pressing to the 
utmost the victory we have gained on the abstract question. 
Men are not influenced by mere logic : they will easily be- 
lieve what they wish to believe, whether there be logical proof 
of it or not. 

Accordingly, you will seldom find in Romish books of 
controversy any of that discussion which has occupied us so 
long, and which really concerns the fundamental point in the 


controversy. It would be so very pleasant to have a guide 
able to save us all trouble and risk, and to whom we might 
implicitly commit ourselves, that Romish advocates generally 
spare themselves the pains of proving that such a guide 
exists, and prefer to take that for granted as a thing self- 
evident. The older books on controversy, assuming that 
there was somewhere an infallible Church, and that the only 
question was where she was to be found, occupied much 
space in telling of marks or notes by which the true Church 
could be distinguished from false pretenders. On this much 
discussion on the ' notes of the Church' ensued, it being easy 
to show that several of the notes enumerated by Bellarmine 
are possessed by bodies which no one can imagine to be the 
true Church, while it is extremely disputable whether the 
Church of Rome possesses those notes to which we should 
be willing to attribute most value. But in the actual history 
of perversions to Romanism this part of the discussion has 
usually been skipped ; and thus the proof has been simplified 
into : ' There is an infallible Church somewhere, and no 
Church but that of Rome can claim the attribute.' 

Now, although of the two propositions * The Church of 
Rome is infallible'; ' Other Churches are not' the former is 
the one we deny, while we admit the latter Romish advo- 
cates seldom offer any proof of the former, and spend all 
their declamation on the latter. They tell of errors com- 
mitted by other communions, of theological problems wrongly 
solved, or of which no certain solution can be given, in the 
hope that the hearer, perplexed by so much uncertainty, may 
gladly accept offered guidance without scrutinizing its claims 
too minutely. It is so natural to wish to have an infallible 
guide, that men are found well disposed to give credence to 
the agreeable intelligence that such a guide exists. 

Now, to persons in this frame of mind it is not enough to 
show that there is no reason to think that God has provided 
such a guide. The possibility still remains that He may 
have done so. We all believe in a miraculous revelation, 
through which God has done something for His creatures 
over and above His ordinary course of dealing with them. 


Shall we put limits on His bounty, or deny the possibility 
that He may have made the way to religious truth as secure 
as the most exacting can demand ? 

It is necessary, therefore, to quit the region of abstract 
discussion. But it is always unsafe to neglect to compare 
a theory with facts. When we attempt to decide on God's 
dealings by our own notions of the fitness of things, and 
venture to pronounce beforehand what sort of supernatural 
guidance He would provide for us, the most sanguine theorist 
has no right to imagine that he can get beyond a probable 
conclusion ; and he is bound to examine whether, in point of 
fact, God has provided such guidance. The line taken by 
Romish advocates reminds me of what Cervantes tells of the 
course taken by Don Quixote in the manufacture of his helmet. 
The good knight, having constructed one which he thought 
admirable, proceeded to test its strength ; and in a mo- 
ment, by one stroke of his sword, demolished the labour of a 
week. So he made a new one ; but as it would be very 
unpleasant to have one of not sufficient strength, he this 
time satisfied himself by pronouncing his workmanship to be 
strong enough, without trying any imprudent experiments 
with his sword. I feel it, therefore, to be not enough that 
Romish advocates should tell us of the failures of others, if 
they do not submit to some examination what they offer as 
superior ; and I am persuaded, as I have said, that the true 
result of such an examination is that, whether or not there 
be anywhere an infallible Church, the Church of Rome cer- 
tainly is not. 

But it may be asked, How is it possible to give proof that 
the Church of Rome has erred, as long as the question of her 
possible infallibility is left open ? If we pronounce any decision 
of hers to be erroneous, we may be told that it is she who is 
in the right, and that we are wrong. To recur to an illustra- 
tion which I formerly employed : we engage a professional 
guide to conduct us over a pass we have never crossed before, 
and how can we be able before the journey is ended to con- 
vict him of leading us wrong ? The path he takes may, to 
our eyes, be unpromising and quite unlike what we should 


ourselves have chosen ; but if we hesitate, he can smile at 
our opposing our ignorance to his superior knowledge, 
and can assure us that at our journey's end we shall find 
him to have been in the right. Yet it might happen in 
such a case that even before the journey was over we 
should have good reason to conclude that our guide did 
not understand his business. Suppose that whenever we 
came to a place where two paths diverged, the guide hung 
back, and, as long as we were hesitating, carefully abstained 
from giving any hint of his opinion as to which was the right 
one ; but when we had made our choice, and had struck into 
one of the paths, then overtook us, and assured us we were 
all right, should we not have a right to suspect him of igno- 
rance of his business, and think that but for the honour and 
glory of the thing we might as well have had no guide at all ? 
Suppose, too, that after we had taken a path under the en- 
couragement and, as we believed, with the full approbation 
of our guide, we found ourselves stopped by an impassable 
morass, should we think it a satisfactory explanation to be 
told by our guide, as we were retracing our steps, that his 
approbation of this unlucky path had been expressed by him 
merely conversationally, in his private, not his professional, 
capacity ? 

I think it admits of historical proof that the Church of 
Rome has shrunk with the greatest timidity from exercising 
this gift of infallibility on any question which had not already 
settled itself without her help, and that on several occasions, 
where the Pope has ventured to make decisions, these deci- 
sions are now known to have been wrong, and the case has to 
be met by pitiable evasions. The Pope was not speaking ex 
cathedra; that is to say, he had guided the Church wrong 
only in his private, not his professional, capacity. 

Let us examine, then, by the evidence of facts, whether 
the Church of Rome believes her own claim to infallibility. 
Acting is the test of belief. If a quack claimed to have a 
universal medicine, warranted to cure all diseases, we should 
not need to inquire into the proofs of its virtues if we saw 
his own children languishing in sickness, and found that he 


never tried his medicine on them. If an alchemist asserted 
that he possessed the philosopher's stone, and could turn the 
baser metals into gold, his pretensions would be disposed of 
if we saw his own family starving, and that he made no at- 
tempt to make any gold to relieve them. So when we find in 
the bosom of the Church^of Rome disputes and perplexities, 
as in other Churches ; that the infallible authority is not in- 
voked to solve them ; that its interference is late and vacil- 
lating, and sometimes erroneous, have we not a right to 
conclude that the Church of Rome herself does not believe 
in the infallibility which she claims ? * 

But, really, I must first say a few words on the question, 
Does she claim it ? Some of you may chance to have met a 
book by a Mr. Seymour, called Mornings -with the Jesuits, in 
which the author gives his own report of conferences which 
he held with the Jesuit Fathers at Rome, who unsuccessfully 
attempted his conversion. On one occasion they used the 
syllogism, A Church which does not claim infallibility can- 
not be a true Church : the Church of England does not 
claim infallibility, therefore cannot be a true Church. They 
expected him, of course, to deny the major, and were pre- 
pared to carry on the controversy accordingly ; but Mr. 
Seymour handed them back their syllogism with the word 

* England' erased, and 'Rome' substituted. He asked them 
for proof that the Church of Rome ever claimed infallibility. 

* Of course I allow,' he said, ' that individual theologians 
ascribe to her this attribute, but prove to me that she has 
ever ascribed it to herself in any authoritative document.'f 
I own I was not without suspicion that Mr. Seymour had 
dressed up his tale a little when he described the consterna- 
tion and perplexity into which the Jesuits were thrown by 
his assertion that the Trent decrees contained no claim to 

* In this and in the following Lecture I have made considerable use of a tract by 
Dr. Maurice, reprinted in ' Gibson's Preservative' : Doubts concerning Roman In- 
fallibility ; (i) whether the Church of Rome believe it. In writing the Lecture I used 
Dr. Maurice's tract in the form in which it was modernized by the late Dr. Todd. 
{Irish Ecclesiastical Journal, December, 1851.) 

t The absence of the claim from the creed of Pope Pius IV. was noticed also by 
Dr. Newman. (Prophetical Office of the Church, p. 6 1.) 


infallibility. But it so happened that in the course of events 
the Jesuits were expelled from Rome, and one of Mr. Sey- 
mour's two antagonists came to England, where Mr. Capes 
made his acquaintance. He describes him as a most fair- 
minded and honest man, and an excellent specimen of a 
well-instructed Jesuit, as might have been expected from his 
having been chosen to argue with a controversial English 
clergyman on a visit to Rome. And he told Mr. Capes that 
it was quite true that he had never taken notice of the ab- 
sence of the claim from the Trent decrees until it was pointed 
out to him in this discussion. Mr. Ffoulkes also, another 
who, like Mr. Capes, made the journey to Rome and back, 
states that he was never asked to accept this doctrine when 
he joined the Church of Rome, and that if he had been asked 
he would perhaps not have joined her. All he was required 
to admit was the supremacy of the Roman See, 'Sanctam 
Catholicam et Apostolicam Romanam ecclesiam omnium 
ecclesiarum [matrem et magistram agnosco.' I will not 
anticipate discussions that may hereafter come before us, by 
examining what exactly these words mean, or whether any- 
thing else in a formal document of the Roman Church 
amounts to a claim of infallibility. For practically the 
Church of Rome at the present day certainly does claim in- 
fallibility. The arrogance of her language admits of no 
other interpretation. And therefore I do not class this ques- 
tion with the others I am about to bring under your notice, 
in which the Roman trumpet gives an uncertain sound. If 
the doctrine of Infallibility were much insisted on in sermons 
by Roman Catholic preachers, but if their controversialists 
shrank from defending it against Protestants ; if they treated 
it as one of those things not de fide, which were asserted by 
vehement and hot-headed theologians, but which the calm 
voice of the Church had abstained from pronouncing on, then 
we might taunt the professed guide with being unable to tell 
us the extent of his powers ; but at present it is quite unjust 
to accuse him of any modest reticence as to the extent of his 
prerogatives. We must rather make a different use of the 
absence of any definition of this cardinal doctrine. It shows 


that the practice came first, the theory came afterwards if 
indeed it can even yet be said to be quite come. Arrogant 
Pontiffs presumed to act as if they were infallible, and the 
necessity of justifying their conduct demands a theory that 
they really are so ; but the lateness of the theory, which even 
yet is not included in the formula that converts must sub- 
scribe, is proof enough that from the beginning it was not so- 
I may, however, say a few words now, though I shall have 
to speak more fully on the subject by-and-by, about the 
disputes which have raged within the Roman communion 
for centuries, and which were only in our own time cleared 
up, and then only partially, as to the organ of the Church's 
infallibility. Does the gift reside in the Church diffusive, or 
only in its head, or in a general council, or in Pope and 
council together ? The existence of controversy on such a 
subject is in itself demonstration of the unreality of the gift. 
If Christ had appointed an infallible tribunal, His Church 
would have resorted to it from the first; the tradition where it 
was to be found could never have been lost, nor could this 
have given rise to one of the most angry controversies in the 
Church. To recur to our old illustration : suppose we boasted 
that Dublin was not as other cities, where the cure of diseases 
was precarious; that we had an infallible authority, whence 
we could learn, without risk of error, the certain cure of every 
disease. Suppose that an invalid stranger, attracted to our 
city by our vaunts, inquired on his arrival whom he was to 
consult? 'The President of the College of Physicians,' says 
one; 'it is he who possesses the wonderful gift.' 'Nay,' says a 
second; 'he may make mistakes; it is in the council of the Col- 
lege that the gift resides.' ' Not so,' says a third ; ' either, 
separately, may go wrong; but if you can get both to agree, 
you are sure of being rightly advised.' ' No,' cries a fourth ; 
president or council may blunder separately or together ; the 
gift belongs to the whole medical profession of Dublin : it is 
true, they wrangle at times among themselves, but they always 
manage to settle their disputes at last, and whatever remedies 
they unanimously adopt in the end are certain to be effectual/ 
Surely, when the stranger heard this disagreement, he would 


conclude without further inquiry, that he had been taken in by 
lying tales ; that we were, in truth, no better off in respect of 
medical science than other cities, and that he might just as 
well travel back to his own physicians. 

Accordingly, it was this disagreement as to the organ 
of infallibility which was the last stumbling-block to Dr. 
Newman on his journey to Rome. In the last book of his 
Anglican days, published not so very long before his formal 
surrender, in language which, in spite of its show of hostility, 
plainly betrays the attraction that Rome was exercising over 
him, he says: 'This inconsistency in the Romish system 
one might almost call providential. Nothing could be better 
adapted than it is to defeat the devices of human wisdom, and 
to show to thoughtful inquirers the hollowness of even the 
most specious counterfeit of Divine truth. The theologians 
of Rome have been able, dexterously to smoothe over a 
thousand inconsistencies, and to array the heterogeneous 
precedents of centuries in the semblance of design and har- 
mony. But they cannot complete the system in its most 
important and essential point. They can determine in theory 
the nature, degree, extent, and object of the infallibility which 
they claim, but they cannot agree among themselves where 
it resides. As in the building of Babel, the Lord has 
confounded their language, and the structure remains half 
finished, a monument at once of human daring and its 
failure.' (Prophetical Office of the Church, p. 1 80.) 

But you may ask, Is not the controversy over now ? Did 
not the Pope, at the Vatican Council of 1870, bear witness to 
himself, and declare that every theory was wrong which made 
the organ of infallibility other than himself? But what time 
of day is this to find the answer to a question so fundamen- 
tal ? Can we believe that Christ before He left this earth 
provided His Church with an infallible guide to truth, and 
that it took her more than 1800 years before she could find out 
who that guide was ? It seems almost labour wasted to pro- 
ceed with the proofs I was about to lay before you, of the 
neglect or inability of the infallible judge of controversies to 
settle controversies, when it took him so long to settle that 


controversy in which his own privileges were so vitally 

Let me trace, however, something 1 of the history of that 
other dispute which, after it had raged for centuries, Pius IX. 
undertook to settle : the question about the Immaculate Con- 
ception of the Virgin Mary. In a future Lecture, either this 
Term or the next, I mean to give you an explanation of this 
doctrine, which will make you acquainted with some of the 
most thorny speculations of scholastic theology. What I am 
at present concerned with is only the history of the doctrine, 
taken as a specimen history of a dispute within the Church of 
Rome. The history of a dispute is the best evidence as to 
what authority for settling disputes the disputants believe in. 

When I speak of authority for settling disputes, it is well 
to remind you of a little ambiguity about this word authority. 
We might mean the authority of superior knowledge, or 
merely of official position. Any judge may have authority to 
decide a question of law, in the sense that his decision will 
bind the parties, and that they must submit to it ; but there 
are some judges who, on account of their knowledge and 
ability, rank as legal authorities, and have set precedents from 
which their successors differ with reluctance ; while, in this 
sense of the word, other judges are of no authority at all. Now 
everyone will grant to the Pope the authority of official posi- 
tion. He has power to declare the doctrine of his Church, 
to depose any ecclesiastic who rejects his decision, or even to 
excommunicate any lay person who opposes himself to it. But 
we might say as much for the Synod of the Church of Ireland. 
It, too, can declare the doctrine of that Church, and can make 
the acceptance of that doctrine a condition of clerical or lay 
communion. But now there is this difference between these 
two kinds of authority, that the interference of the authority 
of confessed superior knowledge is welcomed and willingly 
submitted to, while it is often just the reverse with the other 
kind of authority. If two of you were disputing on a subject 
of which you had little knowledge ; suppose, for instance, that 
you knew nothing of anatomy, and that you had a difference 
of opinion how many ribs a man has ; if a skilled anatomist 



were present, you would dispute no longer, but ask him ; and 
then the dispute would be at an end. There has been long 
and warm controversy as to the authorship of the letters of 
Junius. Suppose a sealed volume were discovered, to which 
the author had committed his secret, people would not refuse 
to break the seal because they had misgivings whether their 
own theory were the true one. All parties would say, let us 
know the truth ; and when the truth was known the controversy 
would be at an end. 

It is quite the reverse when the interference is on the part 
of the authority, not of knowledge, but of official position. 
Then those who are likely to get the worst deprecate interfer- 
ence ; they threaten not to submit to the decision, and the fear 
of such a refusal of submission is apt to inspire great caution 
in the authority whose interference might be solicited. If it 
were proposed that the General Synod should make a new 
decision of doctrine condemning the views now held by some 
members of the Church, I can tell from experience what 
would be likely to occur. Those who felt themselves to be in a 
minority would struggle that the Synod should abstain from 
making any decision on the question ; they would threaten to 
leave the Church if their views were condemned ; and then a 
number of cautious moderate men, thinking the evils of a 
schism greater than those of the toleration of opinions from 
which they themselves dissented, would join the minority in 
preventing any decision from being pronounced. 

Remember this distinction, for it will serve as a test guide 
in your study of history. If you are fully persuaded that a man 
on any subject knows a great deal more than yourself, you 
do not want to stop his mouth. The more he speaks the 
better you are pleased, and you willingly give up your own 
previous opinion when he tells you it is wrong. It is quite 
different when a man who is your superior in authority wants 
to interfere with your opinions on a subject which you believe 
he knows no more of than yourself. Then you want him to 
hold his tongue. If he does speak, you, perhaps, refuse to 
listen to him, and if he sees that you are likely not to be afraid 
to make your dissent public, then, if he wants his authority to 


be respected, he will probably have the good sense to discover 
that to hold his tongue is the most discreet course. You 
may test in this way whether the Church of Rome believes in 
her own infallibility. Do the members of that Church show 
that they believe they have got an infallible guide, who on 
things of faith knows much better than themselves ; and do 
they accordingly, when they have a theological problem, 
meekly come to him to be told the solution of it, or do they 
work out the problem for themselves, and merely invoke the 
higher authority to reduce their opponents to submission ? And 
does the higher authority himself speak with the confidence 
of superior knowledge, or rather, with the caution of one who 
knows that his subjects would not believe him if he pro- 
nounced their opinions to be wrong, and who must take care 
not to strain his authority too far, lest he should cause a 
revolt ? Examine the history of any dispute in the Roman 
communion, and you will find that the heads of the Roman 
Church act exactly as the leading members of the Synod of 
the Church of Ireland would act in a like case, neither show- 
ing any belief in their own infallibility themselves, nor any 
expectation that their followers would believe it ; proscribing 
only such opinions as had become offensive to the great ma- 
jority of their body, but restrained by a wholesome fear of 
schism from straining their authority too far. 

I take, as I have said, the history of the doctrine of 
the Immaculate Conception as a typical case. From the 
beginning of the fourteenth century vehement disputes on 
this subject had been carried on, the leading parts being 
taken by two powerful Orders ; the Dominicans, following 
their great doctor, Thomas Aquinas, holding that, though 
cleansed from original sin before her birth, Mary had 
been conceived in sin like others ; the Franciscans, after 
their great teacher, Scotus, exempting her from the stain by 
a special act of God's power. The Dominicans went so far 
as to accuse the assertors of the doctrine of the Immaculate 
Conception of heresy, and even charged with mortal sin 
those who attended the Office of the Immaculate Conception, 
although that Office had been authorized by papal sanction ; 



and they charged with sin also those who listened to the 
sermons in which the doctrine was preached. The annual 
recurrence of the Feast of the Conception was a signal for 
the renewal of hostilities, and gave birth every year to scenes 
of the most scandalous kind. All this time private Chris- 
tians, puzzled by the most opposite statements of learned 
men on both sides, must have looked eagerly to the infallible 
guide, in hopes to learn from him the true doctrine which 
they were to believe. But the judge was silent. He trimmed 
and wavered between both parties, and sought to make peace 
between them, without giving a triumph to either. The 
strongest step was taken by Sixtus IV., who, though himself 
a Franciscan, did not venture to declare that the doctrine 
taught by his own school was true; but who, in 1483, pub- 
lished a brief, in which he condemned those who said that it 
was a heresy, or that it could not be taught without mortal 
sin. Would the most ignorant layman have acted diffe- 
rently, if he had the misfortune to be governor of a body 
divided into two powerful parties, and were called on to 
pronounce a decision between them on a subject he knew 
nothing about ? What better could he do than postpone his 
decision sine die y and meanwhile condemn the extreme of 
either party if they used insulting language toward the 
other ? 

At length came the Council of Trent, in the course of 
which it became necessary to draw up an Article on original 
sin. It seemed then hardly possible to evade the question ; 
for either it must be stated generally that all men are subject 
to this infection, and then the matter would be decided in 
favour of the Dominicans ; or else the desire of the Fran- 
ciscans should be complied with, that special mention should 
be made of the Virgin Mary, exempting her from the plague- 
spot of the human race. On this, naturally, a violent dispute 
arose. When the dispute was made known at Rome, in- 
stead of embracing the opportunity of declaring by infallible 
authority the true doctrine on this subject, orders were given 
to the Papal Legates at Trent to reconcile the contending 
parties as far as possible, without giving a triumph to either. 


The directions were, not to meddle with this matter, which 
might cause a schism among Catholics ; to endeavour to 
maintain peace between the opposing parties, and to seek 
some means of giving them equal satisfaction; above all, to 
observe strictly the brief of Pope Sixtus IV., which forbad 
preachers to charge the doctrine of the Immaculate Concep- 
tion with heresy. And in accordance with these instructions 
the decree of the Council was drawn up. The controversy 
was named ; it was declared that the Council left the matter 
undetermined, and renewed the brief of Sixtus IV. 

This course was, no doubt, under the circumstances, emi- 
nently wise and prudent ; for it had become plain that, what- 
ever else the parties disagreed in, they agreed in this, that 
each preferred no decision at all rather than a decision 
adverse to his own views. But is it not most clearly proved 
that the Pope did not believe in his own pretence to infalli- 
bility, else why not take the opportunity of settling, by the 
joint authority of Pope and Council an authority which, in 
theory, all owned to be infallible a dispute which had so 
long convulsed the Church r But to meddle in the matter 
that is to say, to decide the question one way or other 
* might cause a schism among Catholics' ; in other words, 
these ' Catholics,' whatever they might pretend, did not 
really believe in the infallibility of the Pope and the Council. 
Nay, I am putting the matter too weakly ; for we do not set 
up our own opinion against that of an expert on any subject, 
even though we know that he is far from claiming infalli- 
bility ; but these 'Catholics' must really have thought that 
Pope and Council knew no better than themselves. Why 
should there be danger of a schism after the truth had been 
ascertained by infallible authority ? Surely, no person could 
be mad enough to separate himself from the Church of Christ 
in consequence of a decision which he believed to be infallibly 
true, and to have emanated from a divinely-promised and 
infallible guidance. The only way of accounting for the 
conduct of the Pope and of the Council on this occasion is, 
that neither one or other believed in the pretence of infalli- 
bility. For, as I said, acting is the test of faith ; and here 


the Pope acts as any prudent, well-advised sovereign would 
act under similar circumstances, endeavouring to avoid a 
decision that must irritate one party or other, and trying 
to conciliate both as well as he could. Although he speaks 
loudly and boldly before the world of his infallible authority, 
and of the great blessing of being in a Church which pos- 
sesses an infallible tribunal for settling all disputes, yet he acts 
as one who was fully aware that there was no such tribunal, 
and as knowing also that his * Catholics' believed nothing of 
the sort, and would run into schism rather than submit to the 
pretended authority of his infallibility, if it happened to run 
counter to their own private opinions. It is impossible to 
have clearer proof than this that the Roman communion 
does not practically believe in its own claim to infallibility. 
The guide will not venture to strike into one of two doubtful 
paths until those whom he is conducting have already made 
their choice, and that because he knows that, though pro- 
fessing to believe in his infallible wisdom, they will not 
follow him if he should happen not to take the path which 
they prefer. 

There remained, however, one way of accounting for the 
silence of the Pope and the Council which might save their 
infallibility ; namely, that this particular subject was one on 
which it had pleased God to make no revelation, and there- 
fore that in the judgment of Pope and Council either view 
might be innocently held. This view was naturally taken 
by the Roman Catholics of the last generation. Bishop 
Milner, for instance, says 'the Church does not decide the 
controversy concerning the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, 
and several other disputed points, because she sees nothing 
clear and certain concerning them either in the written or 
unwritten Word, and therefore leaves her children to form 
their own opinions concerning them/ But Pius IX. made 
it impossible any longer to give this explanation of the 
silence of his predecessors. 

In process of time the whole controversy died away. 
Franciscans and Dominicans ceased to accuse each other of 
heresy or mortal sin, and so then was the time that the in- 

xi.] THE DOGMA OF 1854. 183 

fallible tribunal ventured to speak ; and in my own time 
(8th December, 1854) the Pope proclaimed that the doctrine 
of the Immaculate Conception \vas true, and moreover that 
the Church had always held it. Certainly in this case the 
Church carried the ' disciplina arcani ' to an immoderate 
extreme, since neither Bellarmine or Milner, or many other 
Roman Catholic divines whom I could name, were aware 
that the Church had any tradition on the subject. But if 
she had, how are we to excuse Pope Sixtus, or the Council 
of Trent, who, instead of making known the tradition at the 
time when the knowledge of it would have done good in 
healing the violent dissensions which raged between mem- 
bers of the Church, kept silence until people had ceased to 
feel much interest in the controversy ? 

And even then there were those who said it was too 
soon for the Pope to speak. The Pope did not make his 
decree without first taking advice, and you will find in 
the Library the answers he got from the bishops of Christen- 
dom. Among these, both some of the most eminent of 
the French bishops, and our Irish professors at Maynooth, 
declared, not by any means their disbelief in the doctrine 
of the Immaculate Conception, but their opinion of the in- 
expedience of defining it by authority. As I have already 
said, when the interference is not that of superior know- 
ledge, but only that of higher authority, cautious men will 
consider not only the truth of what they are asked to affirm, 
but also the prudence of enforcing conformity to it ; and so 
at our own Synod many have voted against putting forth 
as the doctrine of the Church what they themselves believed 
to be true. In this case, those who pronounced the decision 
of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to be inoppor- 
tune, did not say in their own names that it was an addition 
to the ancient faith of the Church ; but they said that 
Anglican divines would be sure to say so, and would ac- 
cuse the Roman Church of having broken with her ancient 
rule, and of now teaching something which had not been 
taught, * semper, ubique et ab omnibus.' Thus an obstacle 
would be placed in the way of their conversion, and quite 


gratuitously, since there was at the time no controversy on 
the subject which there was any need of appeasing. 

However much we may believe in the sincerity of those 
who on this occasion declared that they did not deny the 
truth of the doctrine, but only the opportuneness of declaring 
it, it is hard to believe equally in the sincerity of those who 
some years later raised the question of opportuneness, when 
it was proposed to define the dogma of the Pope's personal 
infallibility. Actually to deny a doctrine which an influential 
Pontiff showed it was his most anxious desire to have af- 
firmed would be too invidious, and so the lower ground was 
taken by a great majority ; and they fought a half-hearted 
battle, disputing not the truth of the doctrine, but only the 
expedience of declaring it. I must say that, to my mind, all 
this controversy about opportunism shows distrust in the 
infallibility of their guide. It is always opportune to learn 
something you did not know before, if you have got hold of 
a person competent to inform you. What is inopportune is 
that a man should propound his views without necessity to 
an audience disinclined to receive them ; and the fact that 
Pope and Councils very often have found it inopportune to 
make dogmatic definitions is proof enough how little their 
own Church believed in their power to do so. 

I could give other illustrations in plenty of the wise timidity 
of the infallible authority in declining to solve disputed ques- 
tions. For instance, at Trent there was another question left 
unsettled besides that about the Immaculate Conception. A 
question arose whether bishops have their jurisdiction directly 
by Divine right, or whether they only derive it from the Pope ; 
but after hot disputes it was found expedient to drop the 
controversy. You will find in Burnet's Commentary on the 
Seventeenth Article a notice of another controversy, in which 
the Pope, though asked to determine it, neglected to do so. 
I refer to controversies between the Dominicans and the 
Jesuits at the very end of the sixteenth century. The matter 
in dispute belonged to the class of subjects debated between 
Calvinists and Arminians. The Jesuits, who took what we 
may call the Arminian side, were accused of Pelagianism by 


the Dominicans, who followed the Augustinian teaching of 
their great doctor, Thomas Aquinas. In 1594 the Pope 
undertook the decision of the question. Here we have the 
very case to meet which one might suppose the gift of 
infallibility had been conferred : hot controversy in the 
Church terminated by a resort of both parties to the infallible 
authority for guidance. Of course it was not to be expected 
that the Pope should determine so great a question hastily. 
He appointed committees of theologians to examine the ar- 
guments on both sides, known as the celebrated congrega- 
tions de auxiliis, the subject of their inquiries being the help 
of divine grace bestowed by God on man. I will not weary 
you with the history of the delays of the investigation : suffice 
it to say, that after going on some twenty years no re- 
sult was arrived at. And, politically, this was the wisest 
course. For if a decision were made, it must of necessity 
give offence to one or other of two powerful parties sup- 
ported, the one by the King of Spain, the other by the King 
of France ; and there was quite a possibility that the rejected 
party might refuse to submit, and even pronounce the Pope 
himself heretical.* But would there be any such danger if 
the parties to the dispute believed in the Pope's infallibility, 

* It is worth while to add a few words as to the part taken in this controversy by 
the great Jesuit, Bellarmine. The controversy arose out of the publication by a 
Jesuit Professor, Molina, of a book which the Dominicans accused of semi-Pelagian - 
ism, and the authoritative condemnation of which they were anxious to obtain. Now, 
though Bellarmine and other leading Jesuits were unwilling to commit themselves to 
an approval of all Molina's doctrine, they considered that the condemnation of his 
book would be a great slur on their Order ; and though the condemnation appeared 
more than once to be on the point of issuing, the Jesuits exercised obstruction so 
vigorously, that their opposition was in the end successful. It is amusing to read 
in Cardinal Bellarmine's autobiography how he bullied the poor Pope, Clement VIII., 
whose own opinion was adverse to Molina. ' You are no theologian,' he said, 'and 
you must not think that by your own study you can come to understand so very ob- 
scure a question.' 'I mean to decide the question,' said the Pope. 'Your Holi- 
ness will not decide it,' retorted the Cardinal. There is extant a letter, written after 
the Congregation appointed by the Pope to examine the matter had reported ad- 
versely to Molina, and when he was supposed to be about to act on that report, in 
which Bellarmine urges that the Pope should not act without first calling a council 
of bishops, or at least summoning learned men from the Universities. If he acted 
otherwise, though men would be bound to obey his decree, there would be great 
murmuring and complaints on the part of the Church and the Universities that they 


or if he believed in it himself? If Christ Himself appeared 
upon earth, we should be glad to obtain from Him an autho- 
ritative solution of any of our religious controversies, and we 
should not dream of stopping His mouth lest His decision 
should be opposed to our prepossessions. So, though these 
men profess to believe that the Pope, as a guide to truth, 
fills the place of Christ on earth, their conduct proves that 
they do not believe what they say. And the Pope's own 
conduct shows that he felt himself not in the position of a 
judge authorized to pronounce a decision to which all parties 
must submit, but only in that of the common friend of two 
angry disputants, in favour of neither of whom he dare plainly 
declare himself on pain of losing the friendship of the other. 

In other words, every time the Pope has a thought of making 
a dogmatic decision, he has had to make a prudential calcu- 
lation of the danger of provoking a schism ; and on the occa- 
sion of his last definition a schism, as you know, was actually 
made. But fear on his part of secession shows mutual want 
of faith in Roman pretensions. For who would punish him- 
self by seceding from the only authorized channel of divine 
communications ? Who would refuse to believe anything if 
it was declared to him by God Himself, or by one who, he 

had not been properly consulted. That the Pope should attempt to study the ques- 
tion for himself was a very tedious and unsatisfactory method, aud not that which 
had been followed by his predecessors. Did Leo X. trouble himself with study 
when he condemned the Lutheran heretics ? He just confirmed the conclusions ar- 
rived at by the Catholic Universities of Cologne and Louvain. Paul IV., Julius III., 
Pius IV., were no students ; yet, with the help of the Council of Trent, they de- 
clared most important truths. See, on the other hand, what scrapes John XXII. 
got into when he endeavoured to promulgate the views concerning the Beatific 
Vision, to which his own study had led him. See into what danger Sixtus V. 
brought himself and the whole Church one of the greatest dangers the Church was 
ever in when he attempted to correct the Bible according to his own knowledge. 
And the Pope must be careful not to give occasion to anyone to think that he had 
made up his own mind before the question had been scientifically investigated. 
Why, he had said things to Bellarmine himself which had made him resolve to with- 
draw, and treat no more of the question. If such a one as he lost courage, who had 
been studying these subjects for thirty years, what would others do ? (Selbstbiogra- 
phie des Cardinals Bellarmin. Bonn : 1887, p. 260.) There could not be a better 
illustration how ill the authority of official position fares when it comes into collision 
with the authority of superior knowledge. 


was quite sure, had authority to speak in God's name ? Lord 
Bacon tells a story of a wise old man who got a great 
reputation for his success in settling disputes. When pri- 
vately asked by a friend to explain the secret of his success, 
he told him it was because he made it a rule to himself never 
to interfere until the parties had completely talked themselves 
out, and were glad to get peace on any terms. That was just 
the way in which the Pope settled the controversy about the 
Immaculate Conception, by carefully holding his tongue until 
the dispute was practically over. 



DR. GOLDSMITH tells us that the Vicar of Wakefield's 
daughters were given by their mother a guinea a-piece, 
because the honour of the family required that they should 
always have money in their pocket ; but that each was 
under strict conditions never to change her guinea. The 
Pope seems to possess the gift of infallibility on the same 
terms. The 'honour of the family' requires that he should 
have it, but obvious considerations of prudence constantly 
deter him from using it. The slowness of the Pope to inter- 
fere in controversies within his own communion is part of a 
system. I could give illustrations in abundance of the nervous 
fear of the infallible authority to commit itself irrevocably to 
any opinion, without leaving always an outlet for retreat in 
case of need ; but the copiousness of material makes selec- 
tion difficult. 

Romish teaching has constantly a double face. To those 
within the communion it is authoritative, positive, stamped 
with the seal of infallibility, which none may dispute without 
forfeiting his right to be counted a good Catholic. Conse- 
quently, I have heard Roman Catholic laymen express the 
utmost astonishment at hearing their Church charged with 
want of positiveness in her utterances, this being, in their 
opinion, the last fault that can be charged upon her. But 
this is because they only know how she speaks to those who 
will not venture to challenge the correctness of her teaching. 
She speaks differently to those who have courage to impugn 
it and bring it to a test. Then the statements assailed are 
said to be but private, unauthorized opinion, to which the 
Church is not pledged, and which may be proved to be 
absurd without injuring her reputation. 


(i). For example, since we are told that private judgment is 
insufficient to determine with certainty the meaning of Scrip- 
ture, it might be expected that the infallible guide would 
publish an authorized commentary on Scripture, setting forth 
the interpretation guaranteed by that unanimous consent of 
the Fathers, according to which the Creed of Pius IV. binds 
all to interpret. But nothing of the kind has been done. If 
annotated editions are sometimes issued with the approval of 
the authorities, the sanction is intended to imply no more 
than apparent freedom from grave heresy, and the notes rest 
only on the credit of the authors. 

Indeed it did at one time seem that the very thing I ask 
for was about to be done. In the year 1813, advertisements 
were circulated announcing an edition of THE CATHOLIC 
BIBLE, ' explained or illustrated with valuable notes or an- 
notations, according to the interpretation of the Catholic 
Church, which is our infallible and unerring guide in read- 
ing the Holy Scriptures and leading us unto salvation.' The 
names of all, or almost all, the Irish Roman Catholic bishops 
were printed as patronizing the undertaking ; and, when the 
work actually appeared, the title-page professed that the 
edition was sanctioned and patronized by the Roman Ca- 
tholic prelates and clergy of Ireland. What more could any- 
one wish than this ? But the issue of this attempt to give 
' the interpretation of the Catholic Church, which is our in- 
fallible and unerring guide in reading the Scriptures,' was so 
unfortunate that the attempt is not likely to be repeated. 

When the promised edition (Macnamara's) appeared, 
some copies fell into the hands of Protestants, who called 
attention to the doctrine of the Rhemish notes which they 
contained. There is no subject to which the annotators so 
perpetually recur as the duty of the individual to hold no in- 
tercourse with heretics that can be avoided, and the duty of 
the State to punish heretics, and even put them to death.* 

* Here are some of them : 

' The good must tolerate the evil where it is so strong that it cannot be redressed 
without danger and disturbance of the whole Church ; and commit the matter to 
God's judgment in the latter day. Otherwise, where ill men, be they heretics or 


The agitation on the subject of the Emancipation Bill was 
then going on ; and this publication threatened seriously to 
damage the prospects of the Bill, by confirming apprehen- 
sions then prevalent as to the use Roman Catholics would 
be likely to make of any political power they might obtain. 
Accordingly, the book was denounced by O'Connell, and 
you will find in his published speeches* that he had no 
scruple in calling on the Catholic Association to repudiate 
these notes, which he stigmatized as ' odious,' ' execrable,' 
'abominable,' notwithstanding that they had for two hun- 
dred years been recognized as approved by high Roman 
Catholic authority. These 'odious' doctrines have higher 

other malefactors, may be punished or suppressed without disturbance and hazard of 
the good, they may and ought, by public authority, either spiritual or temporal, to 
be chastised or executed.' Matt. xiii. 29. 

1 Not justice nor all rigorous punishment of sinners is here forbidden, nor Elias's 
fact reprehended, nor the Church or Christian princes blamed for putting heretics to 
death ; but that none of these should be done for desire of our particular revenge, 
or without discretion and regard of theii amendment and example to others.' Luke 


' All wise men in a manner see their falsehood, though for fear of troubling the 
state of such commonwealths, where unluckily they have been received, they cannot 
be suddenly extirpated.' 2 Tim. iii. 9. 

' If St. Paul doubted not to claim the succour of the Roman laws, and to appeal 
to Caesar, the prince of the Romans not yet christened, how much more may we 
call for the aid of Christian' princes and the laws for their punishment of heretics and 
for the Church's defence against them ?' Acts xxv. ir. 

'St. Augustin referreth this " compelling "to the penal laws, which Catholic'princes 
do justly use against heretics and schismatics, proving that they who are by their 
former profession in baptism subject to the Catholic Church, and are departed from 
the same after sects, may and ought to be compelled into the unity and society of 
the universal Church again. And therefore in this sense, by the two former parts of 
the parable, the Jews first, and secondly the Gentiles that never before believed in 
Christ, were invited by fair sweet means only ; but by the third such are invited as 
the Church of God hath power over, because they promised in baptism, and therefore 
are to be revoked not only by gentle means, but by just punishment also.' Luke 
xiv. 23. See infra the passage quoted from Thomas Aquinas. 

' The Protestants foolishly expound this of Rome, for that there they put heretics 
to death, and allow of their punishment in other countries ; but their blood is not 
called the blood of saints, no more than the blood of thieves, man-killers, and other 
malefactors, for the shedding of which by order of justice no commonwealth shall 
answer.' Rev. xvii. 6. 

* Meeting of Catholic Association, Dec. 4, 1817. (CPConnelVs Speeches, edited 
by his Son, vol. ii., p. 257.) 


authority* in their favour than perhaps Mr. O'Connell was 
aware of, and I do not think it so easy for the Roman Ca- 
tholic Church to repudiate them. But Mr. O'Connell was 
quite right in considering that he was at liberty to reject 
the opinions of any commentator, however respectable. 

(2). Perhaps it may be said that it was needless for the 
Roman Church to publish commentaries on Scripture, since it 
is not to Scripture she sends her people for instruction in the 
doctrines of their faith. She has catechisms and other books 
of instruction, from which her people may learn. But has she 
ventured to put her seal of infallibility to any one of them ? 
Not so ; catechisms, sermons, books of devotion, are guarded 

* It seems to me that the Rhemish annotators had every reason to believe that 
they were only teaching the doctrine approved by the highest authorities in their 
Church doctrine which the Church had never had any hesitation in following in 
practice. It will suffice to quote here the conclusions come to by Thomas Aquinas 
(Sumtna 2 d 2 dae , Qu. xi., Art. 3) on the question, ' utrum haeretici sint tole- 
randi.' He says, ' The question must be considered as regards the heretics them- 
selves and as regards the Church. On the side of the heretics is sin, for which they 
deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but even to 
be excluded from the world by death. Now it is a much more grievous thing to 
corrupt the faith, through which the soul has its life, than to falsify money, which 
serves the needs of temporal life. So if falsifiers of money, or other malefactors, 
are at once justly consigned to death by secular princes, far more may heretics, when 
once convicted of their heresy, be not only excommunicated, but even justly put to 
death. On the side of the Church there is mercy for the conversion of the erring, and 
therefore she does not condemn at once, but, as the Apostle says, " after a first 
and second admonition." But if after that he still continues obstinate, the Church, 
having no hope of his conversion, provides for the safety of others by separating him 
from the Church by the sentence of excommunication, and further leaves him to the 
judgment of secular princes to be exterminated from the world by death.' 

On the previous question (Qu. x., Art. 8), ' utrum infideles compellendi sint ad 
fidem,' his ruling is, that Jews or Gentiles, who have never received the faith, ought 
not to be compelled to receive it ; but that heretics and apostates should be com- 
pelled to fulfil what they had promised. On our Lord's words, ' Let both grow 
together until the harvest,' he makes a comment for which I am sorry to say he is 
able to quote St. Augustine's authority, that since the reason is given, ' Lest haply 
while ye gather up the tares ye root up the wheat with them,' it follows that if there 
is no danger of rooting up the wheat, it is safe to eradicate the tares. 

He goes on to consider Qu. xi., Art. 4, whether relapsed heretics ought to 
be received on their repentance. He regards this question as decided by the 
Decretal, Ad dbolendam, ' Si aliqui post abjurationem erroris deprehensi fuerint 
in abjuratam haeresim recidisse, seculari judicio sunt relinquendi.' He defends 
this decision as follows : The Church, according to our Lord's precept, extends 


by no such gift. If we detect a catechism in manifest error, if 
we find a preacher or a book of devotion guilty of manifest 
extravagance, no matter how eminent the man, or how widely 
popular the book, the Church always leaves a loophole for 
disowning him, and we are at once told that the infallible au- 
thority has spoken by no such medium. But why has she not ? 
Does it not seem strange that a communion possessing the 
high attribute of infallibility should make no use of it in the 
instruction of her people ? It cannot be said that this neglect 
does not lead to ignorance and error on the part of the 
people. I need take no other example than the case I have 
already mentioned of ' Keenan's Catechism,' where a book 
circulated by thousands, with the highest episcopal appro- 
bation, went on, year after year, teaching doctrine which has 

her charity to all, even to her enemies and persecutors. Charity teaches us to 
wish and work for our neighbour's good. His chief good is the salvation of 
his soul ; consequently the Church admits a relapsed heretic to penance, which 
opens to him the way of salvation. But it is only in a secondary degree that 
charity looks to temporal good, such as life in this world, possession of property, 
and so forth. We are not bound in charity to wish these things to others, except in 
subordination to the eternal salvation of themselves and others. If one man's pos- 
session of any of these good things might hinder the eternal salvation of many, we 
are not bound to wish it to him, but rather to wish the contrary, both because 
eternal salvation is to be preferred to any temporal good, and because the good of 
many ought to be preferred to the good of one. Now if relapsed heretics were kept 
alive, and allowed to possess property, this might prejudice the salvation of others, 
both because there is danger of their relapsing again, and infecting others, and be- 
cause, if they got off without punishment, others might be careless about falling into 
heresy. So in the case of those who for the first time return from heresy, the 
Church not only admits them to penance, but keeps them alive, and sometimes, 
if she believes them to be truly converted, even restores them to the ecclesiastical 
dignities which they had held before. But relapsing is a sign of instability con- 
cerning the faith ; so that on a subsequent return to the Church they are admitted to 
penance, but not freed from the sentence of death. 

Accordingly the practice was, that a relapsed heretic who recanted was first 
strangled, then burnt. If he did not recant he was burned alive, but Bellarmine's 
biographer, Petrasancta, explains that this was not done out of cruelty, but in the 
merciful hope that the extremity of bodily suffering might induce the culprit to save 
his soul by recanting at the last moment (see the passage cited, Selbstbiographie des 
Cardinals Bellarmin, p. 235). In the same place a long list is given of heretics 
capitally punished at Rome. See also Gibbings, Were heretics ever burned alive at 
Rome? Gibbings remarks, that one of the propositions selected from Luther's writ- 
ings, and condemned by Pope Leo X. in the Bull Exsurge, in 1520, as pestiferous 
and destructive, &c., is, 'Haereticos comburi est contra voluntatem Spiritus.' 


now to be withdrawn as false. The consequence of this 
neglect is, that those who filled the office of authorized 
teachers in the Church of Rome were left in such ignorance 
of its doctrines, that it has now got to be owned that we 
heretics knew better what were the doctrines of the Roman 
Church than did its own priests. One Romish controver- 
sialist after another, when taken to task about the Roman 
theory of the Papal power, repudiated as a gross Protestant 
misrepresentation those doctrines which the Pope, with the 
assent of the Vatican Council, now tells us are not only true, 
but have been held by the Church from the beginning. Thus, 
to quote one controversial book extensively circulated in 
America : * Though I have plainly told the Protestant mi- 
nister that the infallibility of the Pope is no part of the 
Catholic creed, a mere opinion of some divines, an article 
nowhere to be found in our professions of faith, in our creeds, 
and in our catechisms, yet the Protestant minister most un- 
generously and uncandidly brings it forward again and 
again, and takes the opportunity from this forgery of his 
own to abuse the Catholic Church/ ' Here,' says an ' Old 
Catholic' commentator, 'we have an extraordinary pheno- 
menon : two Protestant ministers, who understood clearly 
what was the teaching of the Catholic Church on the point 
in question, and two Catholic priests, writing in defence of 
the faith, who yet knew nothing about a fundamental doc- 
trine of faith, to say nothing of the bishops and priests who 
approved of and circulated their works. If this be so,' he 
says, 'where is the advantage of an infallible Church?' 
Where, indeed, if those who have not the benefit of its 
guidance succeed better in arriving at a knowledge of the 
Church's doctrines than those who have ? 

(3). Well, perhaps it may be said, it is not from books at 
all that the Church means her people to learn. To the people 
in general the voice of the Church is only the voice of the 
Driest. Ordinary laymen certainly cannot study decrees ot 
5 opes or Councils, or works on scientific theology. They 
mst take the doctrines of their Church as their authorized 
iachers expound it to them. Well, are those teachers 



infallible ? Why, no, is the answer ; but practically the people 
have the full benefit of the gift of infallibility. It is true 
their priest is not infallible ; but they know that, if he teaches 
any heresy, he will be suspended by his bishop : if the bishop 
neglect his duty, he will be called to account by the arch- 
bishop : if the archbishop be heretical, he will be removed by 
the Pope. But this statement is only partially true. I be- 
lieve it is true that any attempt to remove errors from the 
teaching of the Church of Rome is likely to be summarily 
checked, and therefore that she is greatly debarred from that 
best kind of reform reform from within. But I see no equal 
safeguard against adding to and exaggerating errors she 
holds already. It is acknowledged that the faith of the 
Church may be injured by subtraction. It seems to be prac- 
tically ignored that the faith may also be injured by addition. 
Anything that seems like a move in the direction of Pro- 
testantism is promptly stopped ; but the most extravagant 
statements in the opposite direction, though perhaps pri- 
vately censured by the discreet, are not interfered with by 
authority. On all important subjects the truth is a mean 
between opposite errors. How then can those teachers pos- 
sibly have the truth whose only care is to keep as far as they 
can from one particular form of error r 

The most prevalent extravagance of Roman teaching at 
the present day is an exaggeration of the honour due to the 
Blessed Virgin Mary. She is represented, in many sermons 
and popular books of devotion, as almost a fourth Person of 
the Blessed Trinity, and as a sharer, on nearly equal terms, 
with our Lord in the work of our redemption. These extra- 
vagances are such as to shock one so little disposed to judge 
harshly of Roman doctrine as Dr. Pusey, and they formed 
the main subject of his book, The Eirenicon. We ask, Is this 
teaching authorized r and no one can tell us. The infallible 
guide will not commit himself. 

It might seem, however, that he has committed himself. 
One of the most active teachers of these new doctrines is St. 
Alphonso dei Liguori, who was canonized by the late Pope. 
Liguori's writings have been a mark for Protestant attack, 


not only on account of his Mariolatry, but also on account of 
his casuistry. For though in his work on Moral Theology 
he professes to hold the mean between extreme laxity and 
extreme rigour, his decisions lean so much to the side of 
what we count laxity as very much to scandalize weak 
minds. Now, our first impression is that the Pope is fairly 
responsible for all Liguori's teaching, for before anyone can 
be canonized as a saint a most rigorous examination must 
be made whether his published writings contain anything 
objectionable. This examination was made in Liguori's case 
in the year 1803, when he was a candidate for beatification. 
All his works then came under the examination of the Sacred 
Congregation of Rites, who decreed that in all the writings 
of Alphonso dei Liguori, severely examined according to 
the discipline of the Apostolic See, there was found nothing 
worthy of censure. And there is testimony that this exami- 
nation was made with particular severity; that his system of 
morality had been more than twenty times rigorously dis- 
cussed by the Sacred Congregation ; and that in all their 
decrees the Cardinals had agreed * voce concordi, unanimi 
consensu, una voce, una mente/ Yet we are told that the 
infallible authority is no way committed to the doctrines of 
Liguori. Many respectable Roman Catholics do not hesitate 
to express their dislike both of his decisions on some ques- 
tions of morality, and of his language concerning the Virgin 
Mary. Dr. Newman is among the number of those. While 
professing his incompetence to judge a saint,* seeing that 'the 
spiritual man judgeth all things, and is himself judged of 
no man,' he gives his opinion that many things may be suit- 
able for Italy which will not go down in England. The 
Saint's practical directions were given for Neapolitans, whom 
he knew, and we do not. With respect to the approbation 
implied in the decree of the Congregation of Rites, he says, 
* Though common sense may determine that the line of pru- 
dence and propriety has certainly been passed in the instance 
of certain statements about the Blessed Virgin, it is often not 
easy to prove the point legally, and in such cases authority, 

* ' Letter to Dr. Pusey,' p. 103. 
O 2 


if it attempt to act, would be in the position which so often 
happens in our courts of law, where the commission of an 
offence is morally certain, but the Government prosecutor 
cannot find legal evidence sufficient to ensure conviction. It 
is wiser to leave these excesses to the gradual operation of 
public opinion, that is, to the opinion of educated and sober 
Catholics, and this seems to be the healthiest way of putting 
them down' (p. 112). I will postpone, until I have to speak of 
saint-worship, the discussion whether this attempt to release 
the Church of Rome from the responsibility of approving 
Liguori's doctrine is successful : my own opinion is that it 
is not. And since Dr. Newman wrote, a new difficulty has 
arisen in the way of relieving Roman Catholics from the re- 
sponsibility of Liguori's extravagances ; for Pius IX., who 
was himself a thorough Italian, and who did not understand 
how what is good for Italy should not be good for all the 
world, elevated Liguori to the rank of Doctor of the Church, 
that is to say, one of the great divines whose dicta have the 
highest authority. But for the present purpose we may 
accept Dr. Newman's account of the matter. If Dr. Newman 
misunderstands the teaching of the infallible guide whom he 
has accepted, it is only a stronger proof of what I am assert- 
ing, that that guide has an obstinate objection to speaking 
plainly. It appears, then, from Dr. Newman, that not only 
is the stamp of infallibility not put on the teaching of ordi- 
nary priests, but not even on that of canonized saints. It 
appears that there are current among Roman Catholics books 
of devotion which, in the opinion of many, are superstitious 
and scandalous, not to say blasphemous and idolatrous, and 
yet the infallible authority refuses to speak a word in con- 
demnation ; nay, gives what to most persons would seem 
approbation of the devotions in question. 

(4). I have just alluded to the process of the canoniza- 
tion of saints. A necessary step in that process is, that proof 
should be given of miracles wrought by the person to be ca- 
nonized. We are assured that the evidence for such miracles 
is subjected to the most rigorous examination, and that none 
are admitted without convincing proof. When such miracles 


have passed this test, when they are recited in the Pope's 
Bull of canonization, as the ground for the honour conferred, 
when they are inserted in the Breviary, by authority, for the 
devotional reading of priests, you might suppose then that 
the infallible authority was pledged to their truth as much 
as the credit of the New Testament is pledged to the miracles 
of the Gospels. Not in the least ; Roman Catholics are free 
to accept or reject them as they please. We are told that 
the historical facts contained in the Breviary, though they 
merit more than ordinary credence, may be subjected to fresh 
examination, and may be criticized by private scholars, pro- 
vided it be done with moderation and respectfulness. In like 
manner the miracles recited in Bulls of canonization, though 
they may not be publicly impugned without indecency, yet 
do not bind a Roman Catholic to actual belief; and if a Pro- 
testant, hesitating to become a convert to Popery, should 
allege, as the ground of his hesitation, the number of lying 
legends proposed by the Church for his acceptance, he would 
be told that this is no obstacle at all, and that, as a Roman 
Catholic, he need not believe any of them. 

I am not supposing an imaginary case. Something of the 
kind occurred in the case of Mr. Ffoulkes, whose name is, no 
doubt, familiar to you. He tells us of one miraculous story in 
particular, which we are so uncandid as to reject without ex- 
amination, and which he subjected to careful investigation. 
You have all, I dare say, heard the story of the holy house at 
Loretto. The Virgin Mary's house at Nazareth, when the land 
fell into the possession of unbelievers, and worshippers could 
no longer resort to it, was carried by the angels across the seas 
on the Qth May, 1291 (for I like to be exact), and after taking 
three temporary resting-places, finally settled down at Lo- 
retto in the year 1295. There, on the credit of so great a 
miracle, it attracted many pilgrims, and was by them en- 
riched with abundant gifts. Several Popes pledged their 
credit to the truth of the story, and rewarded pious visitors 
with indulgences. I possess a history of the holy house, 
written by Tursellinus, a Jesuit, and printed at Loretto itself 


in 1837, from which I find that the story is proved by such 
irrefragable evidence that * de ea ambigere aut dubitare sit 
nefas,' and that no one can doubt it who is not prepared to- 
deny the power and providence of God, and to remove all 
faith in the testimony of man. Mr. Ffoulkes, whose turn of 
mind was such that he seemed to find it as hard as the holy 
house itself to find a resting-place, either among Protestants 
or Roman Catholics, neither accepted this story without 
inquiry, as might a thorough-going Roman Catholic, nor 
rejected it without inquiry, as might a thorough-going Pro- 
testant. He took the trouble of going both to Loretto and 
to Nazareth, and making laborious investigations on the 
spot ; and the result of his inquiry was, that he came back 
thoroughly convinced of the fictitious character of the Santa 
Casa, notwithstanding the privileges bestowed by so many 
Popes. On stating this conviction to the excellent French 
priest who had received him into the Roman communion, his 
only reply was, ' there are many things in the Breviary which 
I do not believe myself.' 

(5). There is one particular class of miraculous story, 
however, which deserves special attention, on account of the 
uses that are made of it I mean alleged divine revelations. 
On this authority rest a number of new facts and new doc- 
trines. As an example of new facts, I cannot give you a 
better instance than the history of one of the most popular 
saints on the Continent at the present day, Saint Philurnena. 
This saint suffered martyrdom, in the Diocletian persecution, 
on the loth August, 286 a date on which I might comment,, 
if the story deserved comment. For excellent reasons this 
saint was unheard of until quite lately. We learn from the 
authorized history of her life, that a good Neapolitan priest 
had carried home some bones out of the Roman catacombs, 
and was much distressed that his valuable relics should be 
anonymous. He was relieved from his embarrassment by a 
pious nun in his congregation, who in a dream had revealed 
to her the name of the saint and her whole history. I am 
sorry that I have not time to repeat the story to you ; but it 

xii.] SAINT PHILUMENA. 1 99 

is a tissue of such ludicrous absurdities and impossibilities, 
that it would be breaking" a butterfly on the wheel to prove 
its falsity ; and one would think it could not deceive any- 
one that was not absolutely a child in respect of critical per- 
ception.* Yet this history has been circulated by thousands 
on the Continent ;f and a few years ago, Mr. Duffy, on the 
quays, published an edition for the instruction of Irish 
Roman Catholics. This history ascribes the wonderful po- 
pularity which St. Philumena undoubtedly obtained, to the 
number of miracles which she works, and in which she out- 
does the oldest saint in the calendar. Yet you will take 
notice that the evidence for her existence is, that some six- 
teen centuries after her supposed date a nun dreamed about 
her a story quite irreconcilable with historic possibilities. 
This one example will enable you to judge whether it is true 
that if a priest teaches his people falsehood, his bishop will 
call him to account, and that if the bishop neglect his duty, 
the Pope will interfere. This romance of Philumena has 
been circulated as truth, with the approbation of the highest 
ecclesiastical authorities. + The subject of modern revelations, 

* The scholarship of the narrator of the story may be judged of from the fact that 
the word ' Philumena' is interpreted to mean ' Friend of Light.' 

t My authority is a French life of the saint : La me et les miracles de Sainte 
Philomene, surnommee la thaumaturge du xix e siecle. Ouvrage traduit de V Italien. 
The preface states that the work was made on the invitation of a venerable prelate, 
and it bears the imprimatur of the Bishop of Lausanne, who, ' after the example of 
a great number of his colleagues in the Episcopate, thinks fit to second the designs 
of Divine Providence by recommending to his flock the devotion to the holy miracle- 
worker, Philumena, virgin and martyr, persuaded that it will produce in his diocese, 
as elsewhere, abundant fruits of sanctification.' The preface claims that the devo- 
tion has the sanction of two Popes Leo XII., who proclaimed the great saint, and 
Gregory XVI., who blessed one of her images. 

J In obedience to a decree of Pope Urban VIII., these authorities express them- 
selves with a certain reserve ; but they give their approbation to the circulation 
among their people of works teaching them to act as if the whole story contained 
nothing but undoubted facts. Here is a specimen of the prayers they are taught to 
address to a being as imaginary as Desdemona or Ophelia : ' Vierge fidele et glo- 
rieuse Martyre, ayez piti6 de moi ; exercez et sur mon Sine et sur mon corps le 
ministere de salut dont Dieu vous a jugee digne ; mieux de moi vous connaissez la 
multitude et la diversite de mes besoins : me voici & vos pieds, plein de misere et 
d'esperance, je sollicite votre charite : 6 grande Sainte ! exaucez-moi, benissez-moi, 


as a foundation for new doctrines, is so important, that I will 
not enter on it now, but keep it for the next day. 

daignez faire agreer a mon Dieu 1'humble supplique que je vous presente. Oui j'en 
ai la ferme confiance, par vos merites, par vos ignominies, par vos douleurs, par votre 
mort, unies aux merites de la mort et de la passion de JESUS-CHRIST, j'obtiendrai ce 
que je vous demande,' &c. The work from which I cite gives in conclusion the 
music of a hymn, the chorus of which is, A Philomene offrons nos voeux ; tout est 
soumis a sa puissance. 

Since the above was in type, passing through Reims, I saw a notice in the Ca- 
thedral that a novena in honour of St. Philumena was to commence^on the Sunday 
after my visit. 



ON the last day I spoke of one use made of modern reve- 
lations in the Church of Rome, and gave a specimen 
how, on the authority of what is there called a revelation, but 
we should call a dream, a tissue of historical facts is as- 
serted without a particle of historical evidence, or rather in 
the teeth of historical probability. I told how bishops en- 
courage their flocks to invoke in their prayers the intercession 
of a person who never had any existence, and even propa- 
gate tales of miracles worked by the power of this imaginary 
personage. It is impossible to doubt that there must be many 
a Roman Catholic ecclesiastic in high position who does not 
believe in St. Philumena any more than we do ; but it is very 
common with such persons to regard the excitement of 
devotional feeling as more important than the truth of the 
alleged facts which excite it ; and so they see no necessity to 
interfere with the practice of a devotion which appears to 
them conducive to pious feelings, and to be at least harmless. 
But these alleged revelations are also the foundation of 
new doctrines, and the Pope's silence concerning them affects 
the whole question of the rule of faith. I do not think that 
in the Roman Catholic controversy sufficient attention has 
been given to the place which modern revelations have now 
taken as part of the foundation of their system. No one can 
take up modern popular books of Roman Catholic devotion 
without seeing that their teaching differs as much from that 
of the Council of Trent, as the teaching of that Council differs 
from that of the Church of England. Taking notice of this 
difference was the fundamental idea of Dr. Pusey's book, 


The Eirenicon, to which I referred in a former Lecture. He 
observed how far popular Roman doctrine had got beyond 
anything that the Council of Trent had authorized, and more 
particularly so in the place assigned to the Blessed Virgin. 
Pusey's idea then was to make the Trent decrees a basis of 
reconciliation : if the Romanists would only confine them- 
selves within Tridentine limits, he hoped to screw up An- 
glican teaching so far. Whether he would have succeeded 
in the latter part of his task we need not speculate ; for the 
doctrine of development has now gained too firm a hold of 
the Roman Church to permit her people to be content to 
believe now as she believed three hundred years ago. One 
of the ablest of the Roman Catholic replies to Dr. Pusey was 
by a Father Harper, originally, I believe, a pervert, now a 
Jesuit. Pusey had said, ' I doubt not that the Roman Church 
and ourselves are kept apart much more by that vast prac- 
tical system which lies beyond the letter of the Council of 
Trent things which are taught with a quasi-authority in the 
Roman Church than by what is actually defined/ Harper 
replies (I. Ixxvii.), * It is precisely this practical system, this 
development of the Tridentine Canons, as Dr. Pusey means it, 
which is the expression, or rather actuation, of the Church's 
present indwelling vitality. Dead ideas alone can be hidden 
up in manuscript ; living ideas grow and show fruit. It is pre- 
cisely in and through this vast practical system, in proportion 
as it is universal, that the Holy Ghost is working, directing, 
leading the mind of the Church by degrees into all the truth. 
Mere formulas, mere written definitions, by themselves are 
bodies that either have lost animation, or are waiting for it. 
In the Church they are the expression of her perfected con- 
sciousness, on the particular subject of that revealed dogma 
about which they treat. They live in her spirit and grow 
with her growth. Like all things else that have an undecay- 
ing life, they can never decrease, but must ever increase. 
Christ grew in wisdom daily. So does the Church, not in 
mere appearance, but of a truth. Her creed, therefore, can 
never shrink back to the dimensions of the past, but must 
ever enlarge with the onward future.' I am not now discus- 


sing the truth of the doctrine of development ; but you must 
take that doctrine into account in judging what Romanism 
at the present day is. 

Roman Catholic controversialists have often been in the 
habit of running away from attacks on the most vulnerable 
parts of her practical system by saying, ' Oh, the Church is 
not pledged to that ; it is a mere popular abuse ; ' or, ' It is 
an unauthorized speculation of some private theologians.' I 
had already occasion to show how unfair an evasion that 
was in the case of the dogma of the Pope's personal infal- 
libility. Though controversialists had run away from defend- 
ing it on the ground of its not having been asserted in any 
formal decree, and so being only private opinion, yet now we 
have supreme Roman authority for knowing that the Pro- 
testant champions had been quite right in holding that this 
doctrine, however defective in formal attestation, had all the 
time been really part of the faith of the Roman Church. 
Well, this same principle gives us a right to treat the prac- 
tical system which prevails in the Church of Rome as some- 
thing for which that Church is responsible. If we point out 
that popular Romanism is full of superstitions and of belief 
in what sober, thoughtful Roman Catholics own to be lies, 
we are told * these things are not part of the faith of the 
Church ; she has never authoritatively affirmed any of them : 
the religion of the vulgar is always apt to run into extremes t 
you must excuse these things in consideration of the real 
piety which is at the bottom of them.' But though popular 
Romanism is certainly not the same as the Romanism of the 
schools, I hold that it is the former which has the best right 
to be accounted the faith of the Church. Let popular belief 
come first, and scholastic definition and apology will come 
in its own good time afterwards. I have already remarked 
how seldom the infallible authority is exercised to guide 
men's belief as long as it is doubtful ; but usually only comes 
in when all controversy is over, to ratify the result which 
public opinion had already arrived at. Is it, then, only the 
duty of the head of the Church to declare the belief held by 
his people when it becomes general, or is he to exercise no 


superintending care over the influences which form the belief 
he may afterwards have to declare? If the Pope's infallibility 
reaches so far as to qualify him for guiding the Church at 
this stage, he always omits to exercise it. I have said that 
popular Romanism differs as much from that of the Council 
of Trent as the latter does from the creed of the Church of 
England. And I wish now to point out that the difference 
springs out of a fundamental difference as to the rule of faith. 
The Thirty-nine Articles appeal to Scripture alone, the 
Council of Trent to Scripture and tradition ; and so it is to be 
expected that the results should be different when the prin- 
ciples of investigation are different. But the rule of faith of 
popular Romanism is different again : it is not Scripture and 
tradition, but Scripture and tradition and modern reve- 

There is a certain development of Christian doctrine which 
inevitably takes place, but which is quite private and un- 
authorized. Anyone who thinks much about the things of 
religion will be sure to make speculations of his own about 
them, and to draw consequences from generally accepted 
revealed truths, which consequences may, or may not, be 
legitimately drawn. Here, according to Newman's theory, 
would be the place for the infallible authority to interfere to 
inform the Church which developments are to be accepted. 
But what actually happens in a number of cases is, that these 
additions to the structure of Christian doctrine find a shorter 
road to recognition. Both within and without the Church of 
Rome it has constantly happened that persons of an excit- 
able and enthusiastic frame of mind, whose thoughts have 
been much occupied about religion, have supposed themselves 
to be favoured with miraculous communications from God. 
Such persons, for instance, were Johanna Southcote among 
Protestants; St. Gertrude, St. Marie Alacoque, among Roman 
Catholics. Among Protestants persons of this kind do not 
find it easy to get anyone to listen to their pretensions ; they 
are joined by no sober-minded persons; they collect a few 
foolish people for a while, form them into a small sect, and 
in a few years there is an end to them. But in the Church of 


Rome pretenders of this kind not only gather a larger band 
of followers, but they meet with no opposition not from 
those of their own communion even who do not believe in 
them. Few Roman Catholics would grudge any honour, not 
even excepting the title of saint, to a pious woman of this 
kind, even though they do not believe in her asserted revela- 
tions. * She will at least promote the cause of piety ; and for 
their part they do not choose to give scandal to pious minds 
and triumph to unbelievers by exposing the weaknesses and 
excesses of faith to an infidel world.' But meanwhile the 
utterances of these supposed recipients of a revelation are 
caught up and accepted with implicit faith by others. This 
will happen when the utterances express only the seer's 
private speculations. But more usually they are the opinions 
already favourably thought of in her own little circle, which 
is therefore prepared to welcome an authoritative enunciation 
of them ; and then with this backing of inspired attestation, 
belief in them grows so strong and spreads so widely, that 
Church authorities are no longer free to choose whether or 
not they will approve of them. 

There is in the Roman Church an amazing amount of 
literature recording revelations such as I have described ; but 
whether these revelations are genuine or not the Pope will 
not tell, and it is at anyone's choice to accept or reject. 
Some of the Oxford converts made it a point of honour to 
show how much they were able to believe, and with what ease 
they could swallow down what old-fashioned Roman Catholics 
were straining at. Among these there was none more influen- 
tial than the late Father Faber (far more so, indeed, than Dr. 
Newman), whose devotional and theological works had a 
rapid and extensive sale. You can hardly read half a dozen 
pages of these without meeting as proof of his assertions, 
* Our Lord said to St. Gertrude,' ' It was revealed to St. 
Teresa,' 'Let us listen to the testimony of God Himself: He 
made known to a holy nun/ &c.* These quotations are made 

* 'Our Lord said to St. Gertrude, that as often as anyone says to God: "My 
love, my sweetest, my best beloved," and the like, with a devout intention, he re- 
ceives a pledge of his salvation, in virtue of which if he perseveres he shall receive in 


as much as a matter of course as you or I might cite texts of 
Scripture. A number of new things about Purgatory are 
stated on this authority, and being incorporated into widely 
circulated devotional works, pass rapidly into popular belief: 
for instance, that the Virgin Mary is queen of Purgatory, that 
the Archangel Michael is her prime minister, that the souls 
there are quite unable to help themselves, and that our Lord 
has so tied up His own hands that He is unable to help them 
except as satisfactions are made for them by living Christians; 
with a number of other details as to the causes for which 
souls are sent there, the length of time for which they are 
punished, and the manner in which they are relieved. I 
regret to have to mention that, according to the revelations 
of St. Francesca, bishops seem on the whole to remain long- 
est in Purgatory, and to be visited with the greatest rigour. 
One holy bishop, for some negligence in his high office, had 
been fifty-nine years in Purgatory at the date of her infor- 
mation ; another, so generous of his revenues that he was 
named the Almsgiver, had been there five years because, 
before his election, he had wished for the dignity.* 

More recently a French admirer of Father Faber has made 
a systematic treatise on Purgatory, based on modern revela- 
tions. The book is called ' Purgatory, according to the Reve- 
lations of the Saints,' by the Abbe Louvet.f I have formed a 
high opinion both of the piety of the Abbe and of his literary 
honesty. I praise the latter quality because it is commonly 

heaven a special privilege of the same sort as the special grace which St. John, the 
beloved disciple, had on earth.' All for Jesus, p. 60. 

' Our Lord said to St. Teresa, that one soul, not a saint, but seeking perfection, 
was more precious to Him than thousands living common lives,' p. 117. 

' St. Gertrude was divinely instructed, that as often as the Angelic Salutation is 
devoutly recited by the faithful on earth, three efficacious streamlets proceed from the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, most sweetly penetrating the Virgin's heart,' 
p. 104. 

' Once more let us listen to the testimony of God Himself: A holy nun pressed 
God in prayer to reveal to her what it was in which His Divine Majesty took so much 
pleasure in His beloved Gertrude,' &c., p. 323. 

* All for Jesus, p. 367. 

tLe Purgatoire d'apres les revelations des Saints, per M. 1'Abbe Louvet, Mis- 
sionaire Apostolique : Paris, 1880. 

xiii.] THE ABB& LOUVET. 207 

lightly regarded in Roman Catholic works, of which edifi- 
cation is the main object. Thus, for instance, anyone must 
be mad who would trust St. Liguori for a reference. If the 
saint finds anything ascribed to St. Bernard (or thinks he 
remembers that he does), which is what, in his opinion, St. 
Bernard ought to have said, he puts it without scruple into 
his 'Glories of Mary'; and I fancy he would have thought 
anyone very unreasonable who should have suggested that 
he ought to give himself the trouble of looking into St. Ber- 
nard's works to try whether the passage was there at all, and 
whether among the genuine or the spurious works. And simi- 
larly with the anecdotes which he relates in such numbers. 
If a story is good and edifying he does not waste his time in 
trifling investigations, whether there is a particle of historical 
evidence for the truth of the story. Louvet, on the other 
hand, inspires me with confidence that his quotations have 
been correctly given, and that he has taken all the pains he 
says he has to put aside every apocryphal or doubtful reve- 
lation, and to state nothing that is not attested by canonized 
saints. On Purgatory more than on any other subject the evi- 
dence of revelations deserves to be listened to, for the whole 
faith of the Church of Rome on this subject has been built 
upon revelations, or, as we should call it in plain English, on 
ghost stories. For hundreds of years the Church seems to have 
known little or nothing on the subject. Even still the East 
has lagged sadly behind the West in her knowledge, and the 
reason is, that the chief source of Western information is a 
Latin book, the dialogues of Gregory the Great, a work of 
which the genuineness has been denied by some, merely 
because it seemed to them incredible that so sensible a man 
should have written so silly a book. But no one acquainted 
with the eccentricities of the human intellect can rely on such 
an argument, in the face of positive evidence the other way. 
Gregory, believing twelve or thirteen centuries ago that the 
end of the world was then near at hand, and that the men of 
his age, by reason of their nearness to the next world, could 
see things in it which had been invisible to their predecessors, 
collected a number of tales of apparitions which, being 


received on his authority, have been the real foundation of 
Western belief in Purgatory. And so Father Faber quotes a 
namesake of his as saying, ' that although Gregory was a saint 
who should be loved and honoured on many accounts, yet on 
none more than this, because he had so lucidly and trans- 
parently handed down to us the doctrine of the purgatorial 
fire ; for he thought that if Gregory had not told us so many 
things of the holy souls, the devotions of subsequent ages 
would have been much colder in their behalf.'* I don't see, 
then, why our knowledge of Purgatory should not be enlarged 
from the same source from which it was first communicated, 
and why Louvet should not be regarded as doing a good 
work in collecting all the information that had been received 
from ghosts who have appeared since Pope Gregory's time ; 
for it is not reasonable to believe that means of communica- 
tion with the other world which existed in the seventh century 
have been since completely stopped. f It appears that it is 
not only that many ghosts have returned to tell of their suf- 
ferings, but more saints than one have been permitted to 
descend to visit the purgatorial regions, and have given us, 
as Louvet assures us, a complete map of the place. It 
appears that Purgatory is but one division of the subter- 
ranean regions. At the centre of the earth is the place of 
the damned; above it lies Purgatory, divided into three 
regions, for the special torments of each of which I must 
refer you to Louvet. Above Purgatory is the h'mbus infan- 
tium, inhabited by unbaptized infants ; above that the limbus 
patrum, now empty, but formerly dwelt in by the souls of the 
patriarchs until the descent of our Lord to release them. 

I am sorry to tell you, though you might have gathered it 
from something that I have said already, that the lowest 
division is largely tenanted by the souls of priests and 
bishops, monks and nuns : the bishops with mitres of fire on 

* All for Jesus, p. 385. 

t ' On the subject-matter of Purgatory we may, with less scruple, make use of 
such revelations from the example of so grave an authority as Cardinal Bellarmine 
himself, who, in his treatise on Purgatory, as I have already said, always adds some 
private revelations as a distinct head of proof.' All for Jesus, p. 386. 


their heads, a burning cross in their hands, and clad in a 
chasuble of flames. But it will shock you to hear that in 
that region are the souls of many popes who, with all the 
treasure of the Church at their command, were either so 
thoughtless or so unselfish as to make no provision for their 
own needs. For example, the venerable Pius VI., in this life, 
had an unusual share of suffering. He had been dragged 
from his home by the impious hands of the French Revo- 
lution ; outraged ignominiously in his twofold dignity of 
pontiff and king; dragged from city to city as a criminal, 
and he died the death of a confessor of the faith in 1799. He 
had done great things as an administrator, struggling with 
apostolic intrepidity against Gallicanism and Josephism, the 
two precursors of the Revolution, and in short his long pon- 
tificate of twenty-four years was one of the greatest in Church 
history; yet in 1816, seventeen years after his death, Marie 
Taigi saw his soul come to the door of Purgatory, and be sent 
back again into the abyss, his expiation not being yet 
finished. How long is it still to last ? That is the secret of 
God. We know from the same source that Pius VII., who 
suffered so much at the hands of the first Napoleon, and who 
was so worthy and holy a pontiff that he won the respect even 
of unbelievers, remained in Purgatory nearly five years. Leo 
XII. escaped after a few months, on account of his eminent 
piety and the short time he had held the awful responsibility 
of the pontificate. I will not delay to speak of Benedict VIII., 
but will go on to tell what, as Louvet says, is really frightful, 
and what one would not dare to believe if we had not as 
guarantees St. Lutgarde, whose prudence and discretion are 
known, and Cardinal Bellarmine, who, having studied as a 
theologian all the details of this revelation, declares that he 
cannot doubt of it, and that it makes him tremble for himself. 
That great pontiff, Innocent III., who held the Lateran 
Council, who passed for a saint in the eyes of men, and did 
so much for the reform of the Church, appeared to St. Lut- 
garde, all surrounded by flames, and on her expressing her 
astonishment, informed her that he had narrowly escaped 
hell, and that he had been condemned to suffer in Purgatory 



till the end of the world. He earnestly entreated her prayers, 
whereupon St. Lutgarde, with all her nuns, set themselves 
with all their might to make intercession for his deliverance ; 
but no sign came that their prayers were answered, and, for 
all we know, after five centuries the poor wretch may be still 
plunged in those horrible pains from which he begged so 
earnestly to be delivered. ' This example,' says Bellarmine, 
' fills me with real terror every time I think of it.'* 

Louvet makes a calculation, by the help of his revelations, 
how long an ordinary Christian may expect to have to stay 
in Purgatory. I cannot trouble you with the details of his 
proof, but his result is, that a Christian of more than usual 
sanctity, who has never committed a mortal sin, who has 
carefully avoided all the graver venial sins, and has satisfied 
by penance for three-fourths of the lighter sins into which 
frailty has led him, must expect to spend in Purgatory 123 
years, 3 months, and 15 days. 'A truly terrifying result/ 
says Louvet ; * for if it is so with righteous souls, what will 
become of poor sinners like me ?'f 

But these 123 years are only years of earthly measure- 
ment ; they would be more than centuries if measured by the 
sensations of the suffering souls. This Louvet proves by 
several authentic histories. One is of two priests who loved 
each other like brethren. It was revealed to one on his 
death-bed that he should be released from Purgatory the first 
Mass that was offered for him. He sent for his friend, and 
made him promise that he would lose no time after his death 
in fulfilling the conditions of his release. The friend promised, 
and the moment the sick man expired, flew to the altar, and 
celebrated the Mass with all the devotion he was capable of. 
Immediately afterwards, his friend appeared to him radiant 
with glory, but with an air of reproach on his countenance. 
* O faithless friend,' he cried, * you would deserve to be treated 
with the same cruelty you have exercised towards me ! Here 
I have been years in the avenging flames, and to think that 
neither you nor one of my brethren should have had the 

* Lou-vet, p. 124. f Ibid., p. 178. 


charity to offer a single Mass for me!' 'Nay,' returned his 
friend, ' you had no sooner closed your eyes than I fulfilled 
my promise ; and you may satisfy yourself by examining your 
body, which you will find is not yet cold.' 'Is that so?' 
returned the deceased. ' How frightful are the torments of 
Purgatory when one hour seems more than a year ! ' Another 
case was that of an abbot who, on returning from a journey, 
found that the most promising of his young monks had just 
died. As the abbot was praying in the choir after matins he 
saw a phantom enveloped in flames. ' O charitable Father,' 
said the novice, with deep groans, ' give me your blessing. I 
had committed a small breach of rule, not a sin in itself. As 
this is the only cause of my detention in Purgatory, I have 
been allowed by special favour to address myself to you. 
You are to impose my penance, and I shall then be released.' 
The abbot replied : ' As far as it depends on me, my son, I 
absolve you, and give you my blessing ; and for penance, I 
appoint you to stay in Purgatory till the hour of prime : ' that 
was the next service, usually held at eight o'clock in the 
morning. At these words the novice, filled with despair, ran 
shrieking through the church, crying : * O merciless father ! O 
heart pitiless towards your unhappy son ! What ! for a fault 
for which in my lifetime you would have thought the lightest 
penance enough, to impose on me so fearful a penalty. Little 
do you know the atrocity of the sufferings of Purgatory.' And 
shrieking out, ' O uncharitable penance ! ' he disappeared. 
The abbot's hair stood on end with horror ; gladly would he 
have recalled his severe sentence. But the word had been 
spoken. At last a happy thought struck him. He rang the 
bell ; called up his monks ; told them of the facts, and cele- 
brated the Office of prime immediately. But all his life he 
retained the impression of this horrible scene, and often said 
that till then he j4 had had no idea of the punishments of the 
other world, and could not have imagined that a few hours in 
Purgatory could form so fearful an expiation. 

But we shall be less disposed to pity the souls in Purga- 
>ry when we learn what exceptional good fortune it is to get 
there. To the question, 'Are there few that be saved?' 

P 2 


Louvet would return a most gloomy answer. His arguments 
and calculations are very interesting, but would take me too 
long to repeat. But (p. 26) he clinches his opinion by a reve- 
lation. St. Bernard, it appears, was privileged on two suc- 
cessive days to stand by the judgment-seat of God, and hear 
the sentences pronounced on all the souls that died on these 
two days. He was horrified to find that of 80,000 souls only 
three souls of adults were saved the first day, and only two 
on the second ; and that of these five not one went direct to 
heaven : all must visit Purgatory. 

Louvet, as I have said, builds his speculations solely on 
the evidence of canonized saints. If he had been content 
with authentic history, he might have used the following, to- 
which we, at least, ought to take no exception, since the credit 
of our own country is pledged to its truth.* The Roman 
Breviary of 1522 relates that St. Patrick, having fasted, like 
Elias, forty days and forty nights, on the top of a mountain, 
asked two things of God : first, that at the day of judgment 
there should not remain a single Irishman on the earth ; the- 
other, that God would show him the state of souls after death. 
Then the Lord led him to a desert place, and showed him a 
certain dark and deep pit, and said, 'Whosoever shall remain 
in this cave a day and a night shall be delivered from all his- 
sins.' This passage of the Roman Breviary was afterwards 
suppressed, then restored, then finally suppressed again, on 
account of the evil comments of Protestants and Rationalists. 
' But/ says Louvet, ' the old Parisian and other local Brevi- 
aries accept the story ; so do the historians of the Church of 
Ireland, and, above all, the Bollandists, with their grave 
authority. And besides, there remain so many histories of 
actual descents into this purgatory, that unless we accuse a 
great and illustrious Church of knavery and imbecility, we 
must admit that the story has a foundation of historic fact. 
The routine of the descent into this purgatory was as follows: 
none was permitted to descend without the sanction of his 
bishop, who did all in his power to dissuade every applicant 

* Louvet, p. 42. 


irom the attempt, reminding him of what was very true, that 
many had made the venture who had never come back. If, 
notwithstanding, the postulant persevered, the bishop gave 
him a letter to the prior of the monastery which was at the 
place, who also tried to turn him aside from the dangerous 
enterprise. If the candidate persisted, he was shut up in the 
church for fifteen days' fasting and prayer ; then, confessed 
and communicated, was sprinkled with holy water, and led 
in procession, with singing of litanies, to the mouth of the 
grotto. There the prior made a last appeal. If the candi- 
date persevered, he received the prior's blessing, crossed him- 
self, and disappeared in the darkness. The prior waited a 
little to see if he would come back. If not, they shut the door 
and returned in procession to the church. Next day they 
returned, with processions and litanies as before. If the ad- 
venturer was there, they led him back, singing the Te Deum; 
if not, they returned the next morning : if he did not then 
appear, the prior sadly locked the door of the abyss, and they 
gave him up for lost. Some successful adventurers have left 
records of the sufferings of Purgatory, which they not only 
saw, but participated in ; but Louvet, as I said, declines 
to use these histories in his treatise. Any of you who have 
read Carleton's story of the Lough Derg Pilgrim will have 
learned how the descent was conducted in our degenerate 

Before I part with Louvet, I must mention another refe- 
rence of his to Irish history. You may have heard of Malachi, 
who ' wore the collar of gold which he won from the proud 
invader/ Alas ! the true history of the collar of Malachi is 
very different from Tommy Moore's version. An Irish bishop, 
praying after his office, saw a pale spectre with a collar of 
flames about his neck. This was Malachi. He had misused 
his kingly power; and, to bend his confessor to culpable 
indulgence, had bribed him with a ring of gold. For 
punishment he had now to wear this ring of flame about 
Tiis neck. And his confessor could give him no help ; for 
he was himself condemned to wear a heavier and more pain- 
ful one. You will be glad to hear that after some months of 


prayers the bishop was able to obtain relief for the two- 

These extracts, long as they have been, give you a 
very faint idea of the mass of information about Purgatory 
made known by revelations which respected priests, writing 
with all the air of grave historians,! relate for the edification 
of their flocks, in books bought up by thousands. A com- 
panion volume to that on Purgatory might easily be made on 
the revelations about the Virgin Mary, in which the modest 
doctrine of the Council of Trent, that it is useful to invoke 
her intercession, is rapidly being improved into the doctrine, 
that no one who does invoke it can be lost, and no one wha 
does not can be saved. One would think we had a right to 
know from the infallible authority whether these revelations 
and the doctrine which they contain ought to be received or 
not; but he remains silent. Those who, like Father Faber 
and Louvet, receive these revelations as Scripture, obtain 
commendation for their piety; but one who treats these 
stories with complete disregard is visited with no official 
censure, whatever suspicions private individuals may enter- 
tain of the coldness of his faith. But all the time, on the 
strength of stories which the supreme authority will neither 
affirm nor deny, beliefs are being silently built up in the 
Church on which he is likely hereafter to be asked to put his 

In the Roman Church the idea seems to be now abandoned 
of handing down the Faith ' once for all (a7ra) delivered to 
the saints.' It is a vast manufactory of beliefs, to which 
addition is being yearly made. And as when you go into 
some great manufactory you may be shown the article in all 
its stages : the finished product, with the manufacturer's stamp 
upon it; the article near completion, and wanting hardly any- 
thing but the stamp ; the half-finished work; the raw materials 
out of which the article is made; so it is in the Roman 
Church. There you have the finished article : dogmas pro- 

* Lou-vet, p. 79. 

f Louvet says of one of his authorities, ' impossible de rien lire de plus sur 
comme authenticite et comme veracite,' p. 76. 


nounced by Pope and Council to be de fide, which none may 
deny on pain of damnation. But there are, besides, articles 
fere de fide, not yet actually proclaimed by infallible 
authority to be necessary to salvation to be believed in, yet 
wanting nothing else but official promulgation so generally 
received, and acknowledged by such high authorities, that to 
contradict them would be pronounced temerarious, and their 
formal adoption by the Church seems to be only a question 
of time. Somewhat below these in authority, but still very 
high, are other doctrines supported by such grave doctors 
that it would be a breach of modesty to contradict them. 
Below these again, other things owned to be still matters of 
private opinion, but which seem to be working their way to 
general belief, and which, if they should win their way to 
universal acceptance, will deserve to be proclaimed to be the 
faith of the Church. It is needless to say what help is given 
towards such general recognition of a doctrine, if a canonized 
saint, whom it is impossible to suspect of deceit, and disre- 
spectful to suspect of delusion, declares that he has been 
taught the truth of the doctrine by revelation from heaven. It 
is inevitable that a doctrinal statement so commended, if no 
disapprobation of it is expressed by higher authority, comes 
to the Church with such a weight of recommendation that it 
can hardly help becoming the prevalent opinion : and then, in 
process of time, how can the head of the Church refuse to 
declare that to be the faith of the Church which the great 
majority of its members, including perhaps himself, believe 
to be true ? If the supreme authority puts off its interference 
to the last stage, that interference comes altogether too late. 
It is useless to teach the Church when the Church has 
already made up its mind. 

And surely if Christ has left a vicar upon earth, 
what more appropriate function can he have than that 
of informing the world how to distinguish the voice of 
Christ from that of false pretenders who venture to speak 
in his namer Anyone who claims to have received a reve- 
lation from God must be either as much deluded as Johanna 
Southcote, or as much inspired as St. Paul. If there be any 


in the later Church to whom God has made real revelations, 
we are bound to receive the truths so disclosed with the same 
reverence and assent which we give to what was taught by the 
Apostles. It is important for us to know whether the book 
of God's revelation has closed with the Apocalypse of St. John, 
or are we to add to the inspired volume the revelations of St. 
Francesca, St. Gertrude, and St. Catherine. If these last are 
real revelations, they who reject them are doing their souls 
the same injury as if they rejected the books of Scripture. 
We look to the infallible authority for guidance, but he owns 
himself to be as helpless as ourselves to distinguish the true 
prophet from the false pretender, and gives us leave to believe 
or reject as we like. Nay, he gives a kind of ambiguous 
approval : he honours the recipients of the alleged revelations, 
canonizes them as saints, encourages his children to ask their 
intercession, now that they are dead : but if questioned did 
these persons, when they were alive, deceive the people by 
teaching them their own fancies as if they were divine reve- 
lations, he declares this a question outside his commission to 
answer. It is clear that he does not really believe in his own 

*An answer to what is here said has been lately attempted by Father Ryder 
(Nineteenth Century, Feb., 1887). In the Contemporary Review for October, 1883, 1 
had complied with a wish expressed by some friends that I should put on paper some 
things that I had told them in conversation in which they had been interested, 
namely, what I had read in then recent publications by the Abbes Cloquet and 
Louvet. My article was written without any controversial intention, and was almost 
entirely confined to a simple report of what these writers had said. But in writing 
about Louvet I had saved myself trouble by making use of the present Lecture, which 
had been written and delivered a couple of years previously ; and the only part of my 
article that can be called controversial was where I copied some of the remarks made 
above, on the fact that the Church of Rome has shown herself unwilling or unable to 
pronounce officially on the credit due to alleged modern revelations. 

Father Ryder gives an excellent illustration of what I have said as to the habit of 
controversialists, when at a loss for something better to say, of laboriously proving 
what their opponents do not deny. He says that I ' admit in words ' that the Church 
of Rome does not pledge herself to the truth of any modern revelations, and then, as 
if I did not admit it in reality, he occupies in the proof of this statement great part of 
the space which he devotes to me. Surely, in the three years and more that he took 
to meditate on my article, he might have discovered that the complaint I had 
made was that the Church of Rome does not tell us whether we are to believe 

xiii.] MONTANISM. 217 

I ought not to dismiss this subject of revelations without 
reminding you of the first occasion when an attempt was 
made to impose such private revelations as a rule of faith on 
the Church. I mean, in the Montanist heresy. The Mon- 
tanists, you know, were perfectly orthodox. They had not 
the least desire to alter the ancient faith of the Church. They 
only aimed at a development of Christian doctrine ; accord- 
ing as prophets to whom the Paraclete revealed the Divine 
will cleared up anything that had been obscure in the apos- 
tolic teaching, or guarded the purity of the Church by sup- 
plemental commands which the Church, on its first formation, 
Tiad not had strength to bear. But the Montanists held, and 
as it seems to me with good reason, that the recipient of a 
Divine revelation was not justified in looking on it as given 
only for his private edification. It was both his privilege 
and his duty to make known to the Church what God had 
taught him ; and any who refused to hear rejected a message 
from God. So the Montanist prophecies came to be written 
down and circulated as demanding to be owned as God's 
word. This was what more than anything else led the heads 
of the Church to oppose people whose aims and doctrines 

these things or not ; and the question why she does not deserves some better reply 
than, she doesn't because she doesn't. 

Then he has recourse to a 'tu quoque' but about this I need not dispute, since, 
dearly, he would establish my case, not his own, if he could show that the Church of 
Rome behaves exactly as a Church behaves which makes no pretensions to infallibility. 

He blames me for quoting the positive acceptance given by Father Faber to modern 
revelations ' in an uncontroversial work intended to assist the imaginative piety of his 
readers.' It is strange that Roman divines do not find out how they repel Protes- 
tants by the defective appreciation of the claims of truth exhibited in their distinction 
as to what may be said in controversial and uncontroversial books. To people of their 
own community they assert things as positive facts which they run away from defend- 
ing the moment an opponent grapples with them. It would seem as if their maxim 
was, ' We need not be particular about the truth of what we say if no one is present 
who can contradict us.' 

He says that the Church is only directly concerned with the deposit entrusted to her 
at Pentecost. With regard to any other statement, she does no more than say whether 
or not it contradicts the doctrine of that deposit. I wish the Church of Rome did con- 
fine herself to the doctrine delivered to her at Pentecost ; but since the publication of 
Newman's Essay on Development, the 'quod semper* of Vincent of Lerins is 
thrown completely overboard, and Romish divines speak with as much disdain of a 
Church which is satisfied to abide by its old creed, as a fashionable lady does of one 


were all such as religious and orthodox men could sympa- 
thize with. But it was felt, and truly felt, that their prophe- 
cies were encroaching on the supreme authority of Scripture, 
and that they were presuming to add to what had been 
written. From the time of the breaking out of Alontanism, 
greater care was taken than had been used before, to prevent 
any unauthorized uninspired composition from seeming to be 
placed on a level with Scripture. And so the Epistle of 
Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and one or two writings 
more, which had been admitted into Church reading, were 
then excluded, and fell so rapidly into such neglect, that copies 
have scarcely survived to our day. And it is the real truth 
that those who accept these modern revelations, and draw 
proofs of doctrines from them, have really a different Bible, 
not only from us, but from the Council of Trent. The Church 
of Rome is but dissembling a schism when she allows differ- 
ences to remain unsettled, affecting the very foundations of 
faith : when what is accepted by one as the voice of God 
Himself is set down as a dream of silly women by another. 

In what I have said I have only contemplated revelations 
made in visions to their recipients, belonging thus to the 
class of what may be called invisible miracles. But there 

who appears in the dress she wore last season. See the passage quoted from Father 
Harper, p. 202, and another in this very article of Father Ryder. 

Finally, he denies that the new things taught by modern revelations can properly 
be called doctrines. I do not know how else to call them. What I understand by 
'doctrines' is 'revealed facts.' If God has really revealed anything, our obligation to 
believe it is all the same, no matter who the organ may be through whom the reve- 
lation was made ; whether it be St. John or St. Paul, St. Bridget or St. Catherine. 
Our only concern is to know whether or not a real revelation has been made. The 
Church of Rome is willing to tell her people that they are bound to believe what is 
delivered to them by St. John and St. Paul. Why will she not give the same infor- 
mation with regard to things which later persons, whom she honours as saints, pro- 
fess to have received by divine revelation ? 

It cannot be said that these things do not affect practice. One specimen is 
enough. It is asserted that it was revealed through St. Simon Stock that no one 
who dies wearing the scapular can possibly be lost : ' in quo quis moriens seternum 
non patietur incendium.' Surely the revelation of a certain means of escaping the 
flames of hell deserves to be called a doctrine, if anything can. Other things are 
taught about Purgatory on the same authority which, if true, ought seriously to affect 
practice. Why will not the infallible authority tell us positively whether we are to 
believe these things or not ? 


have been, in my own recollection, miracles of still higher 
pretensions ; yet concerning these, too, the infallible authority 
will not tell us what to think. I address an audience so much 
junior to myself, that some of the things I remember as hav- 
ing at the time made the greatest sensation are to you for- 
gotten stories of things that happened before you were born ; 
yet they serve well to illustrate the practical working of the 
Roman system. I can call to mind more revelations than 
one, not hidden away in biographies of saints, whence they 
can be drawn forth by enthusiastic preachers, but coming 
forth into the world, forcing their way into the newspapers, 
and challenging even the investigation of the law courts. 

The miracle of La Salette took place igth September, 
1846. Two children minding cows on a lonely mountain in 
the diocese of Grenoble were surprised by the apparition of 
a fine lady robed in a splendid yellow dress, wearing var- 
nished shoes, and with a head-dress of ribbons and flowers. 
She told them that she was the Virgin Mary ; discoursed to- 
them on the sins of France, and gave them messages in the 
name of her Son. The children told the story : the matter 
was noised abroad ; pilgrimages were made to the scene of 
the occurrence ; the place soon became crowded with visitors ; 
chapels arose ; inns were opened, medals were struck, the sale 
of the water of La Salette soon came to be a gainful traffic, 
for it had not only virtue in curing diseases, but a few drops 
even operated the conversion of an obstinate sinner, in whose 
liquor it had been mixed without his knowledge. Among 
the pilgrims was Cardinal Newman's friend and diocesan, 
Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham. He published an account 
of his visit, professing full belief in the reality of the miracle. 
He opened at Stratford-on-Avon a chapel to our Lady of 
La Salette, and introduced the Confraternity of La Salette 
into his diocese. His pamphlet claims Papal sanction for 
the new devotion. By a Brief, dated 26th August, 1852, the 
Pope, as we are told, made the altar of La Salette a pri- 
vileged altar, gave a plenary indulgence to visitors to the 
shrine, besides other privileges too tedious to enumerate. A 
priest of Bishop Ullathorne's, a Mr. Wyse, published under 


the bishop's sanction a Manual of the Confraternity of La 
Salette. Mr. Wyse remonstrates indignantly with those of 
his co-religionists who still withhold faith from the story. 
' The truth of the apparition of La Salette/ he says, ' is in- 
contestable ; the proofs are such that it is worthy of the 
fullest belief. Yet because it is not of faith, that is to say, 
because a man will not be damned for not believing it, the 
faith of some who call themselves Catholics is so ungenerous 
and thrifty, that they refuse their assent.' 'In matters of 
faith,' he tells us, ' God loves a cheerful giver : He is not 
pleased with those who seek what is the very minimum of 
belief which will secure their salvation. In these days of in- 
fidelity, supernatural faith, cultivated for safety's sake to the 
very utmost, is the only security against the vilest errors/ 

This language expresses a state of feeling I believe to be 
very common among Roman Catholics ; but surely it is very 
absurd. It is accounted faith not only to believe all that God 
says, but also to believe anyone who says that God has said 
a thing. Should I account it a compliment if anyone told me 
that he had such faith in me that he would not only believe 
anything I said, but anything that anyone said I said ? The 
result certainly would be, that although no one has any par- 
ticular motive to misrepresent me, he would believe a good 
deal I never said, and some things I should be sorry to be 
thought to have said. It is really not faith in the Divine 
Word, but want of faith, if the belief which is due to a divine 
revelation is thoughtlessly given to anyone who claims it. 
A man could not think much of his dog's attachment to him 
if he was a dog that would follow anybody. 

In the present case the result proved that a certain sus- 
pension of judgment might be pardonable. Some of the 
clergy of the neighbouring dioceses declared the whole ap- 
parition to be an imposture, and denied (I am sure I do not 
know whether with truth or not) that the Pope had given the 
alleged approbation. The Salettites declared that this was 
envy and jealousy on the part of men whose own shrines had 
suffered a decrease of pilgrims, in consequence of the superior 
attractions of the new shrine. Then their adversaries pro- 


ceeded to particulars. It was asserted that the virgin who 
appeared to the children was a certain Constance Lamerliere, 
a nun, half knave, half crazy, who could be proved to have 
purchased the dress in which the Virgin appeared, and whose 
connexion with the apparition could in other ways be proved. 
This was stated so persistently that Constance Lamerliere 
was forced to accept the challenge, and bring an action for 
defamation of character ; but the Court decided against her, 
and the decision was confirmed on appeal. I shall not pre- 
tend that the decision was conclusive, for I believe that there 
are still Roman Catholics who believe in La Salette ; but I 
fear that the apparition must be pronounced a failure, as 
having caused more scandal to unbelievers than edification 
to the faithful, unless the large pecuniary gains it brought 
to the parties interested may redeem it from the charge of 
being altogether a failure. 

Scarcely had the excitement provoked by the events of 
La Salette begun to subside, when the supernaturalist party 
dealt a heavier blow against their opponents by what was 
called the miracle of Lourdes. In this spot, in Gascony, 
Bernadotte Soubirous, a poor girl of fourteen, on February u, 
1858, while picking up dry wood, saw a beautiful lady robed 
in white, with a blue sash, and the vision was afterwards 
several times repeated. On being asked who she was, the 
lady answered, ' I am the Immaculate Conception.' She 
invited the girl to drink at a fountain. The child, seeing no 
fountain, scraped away some earth with her hands. A little 
water filtered through the orifice : it increased gradually in 
volume, became perfectly clear, and now supplies to the faith- 
ful I do not know how many millions of bottles, which are in 
large demand for the purpose of effecting supernatural cures. 
The local bishop gave his sanction to the miracle; pil- 
grimages to the shrine were organized, and pilgrimages are 
now made easy. It is not, as in former days, when a devout 
pilgrim had to walk over half Europe with or without peas in 
his shoes. Railway Companies are only too glad to organize 
excursion trains, and secure for their line an undue share of the 
tourist traffic. Only the other day the chairmen of the other 


Companies were looking with envy at the profits the Midland 
Great Western Company were deriving from the miracles at 
Knock.* True, there is a number of incredulous people who 
object that the witness to the Lourdes miracle is a child sub- 
ject to hallucinations; and the speech 'I am the Immaculate 
Conception,' does put a severe strain on one's faith. It is said, 
however, that the miracles worked by the intercession of Our 
Lady of Lourdes ought to banish all incredulity. But what I 
complain of is, that when there is an infallible guide he will 
not interfere to clear our doubts. Why should he leave us in 
danger of mistaking the utterances of a crazy nun or the 
ravings of a hysteric child for miraculous communications 
from the Blessed Virgin ; or, conversely, of rejecting a message 
from heaven ? 

Perhaps one reason why we must despair of getting a 
solution of our doubts from this quarter is, that infallibility is 
said to be subject to an unfortunate limitation. The Pope, 
though infallible on questions of doctrine, is liable to be de- 
ceived by human testimony about a matter of fact. You may 
remember reading in Burnet of the use made of this distinction 
in the Jansenist controversy. The adversaries of the Janse- 
nists had obtained a papal condemnation of certain proposi- 
tions from the work of Jansenius. As devout Catholics, the 
Jansenists were forced to confess that the doctrines condemned 
by the Pope were false, but they saved the credit of their master 
by saying that these propositions had not been asserted by 
him, at least not in the erroneous sense. Their adversaries, 
determined not to permit themselves to be thus balked of their 

* A small village in the county of Mayo, where the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and 
a third personage, supposed to be St. John, are affirmed to have appeared to many 
persons on the evening of 2ist August, 1879, an d in the early days of 1880. The 
scene of the alleged apparitions was the exterior of the southern gable of the sacristy 
attached to the Roman Catholic chapel of the parish. See The Apparitions and 
Miracles at Knock, by John Mac Philpin (Dublin : Gill & Son, 1880) ; in which tract 
will be found a full account of the matter, with the depositions of witnesses made 
before a commission of priests appointed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of 
Tuam, and the particulars of many miraculous cures reported by the Roman Catholic 
priest of Knock as having been effected in blind, crippled, and diseased persons who 
have visited the chapel, or swallowed particles of mortar taken from the wall. 


triumph, obtained from the Pope a supplemental decree, 
declaring that the propositions in question were not only 
erroneous, but that they had been taught by Jansenius. To 
this the Jansenists replied, ' We acknowledge the Pope to be 
infallible in questions of doctrine, but the question whether 
Jansenius taught such and such doctrines is one of fact, and 
we say that on this the Holy Father has been deceived.' 

I own I do not myself see the justice of the distinction, 
nor how it is rational to give up the infallibility in the one 
case and assert it in another. If this limitation exists, how 
can any heretic be infallibly condemned ? The falsity of his 
doctrines may be infallibly asserted; but whether he had 
taught them will admit of controversy. In several doctrinal 
questions which came before the Privy Council, it was found 
to be easier by far to ascertain what the doctrine of the 
Church of England was than whether the impeached clergy- 
men had contravened it. But it is more important to observe 
that the doctrines of our religion are all assertions of the 
occurrence of facts. That our Lord died, and was buried, and 
rose again the third day, are all matters of fact. The question 
which, it was said, was to have been determined if the Vati- 
can Council had not been prematurely broken up, whether or 
not the body of the Virgin was miraculously taken up to 
heaven, is a question of fact. If the Pope is unable to arrive 
at certainty about things alleged to have taken place in his 
own lifetime, how can he expect to be more successful about 
things that happened centuries ago ? There is a story about 
a grave writer who abandoned in despair a contemplated his- 
torical work, when he found himself unable to ascertain the 
real facts of a quarrel which had taken place under his own 
windows. But yet again, those miracles of modern times, 
though the question of the reality of their occurrence may be 
one of fact, are made the foundation of doctrines and practices 
the reception of which must surely be affected by our accept- 
ance or rejection of the facts. Thus, in the instance last 
given, if we believe that the Virgin Mary really said to a 
little girl, * I am the Immaculate Conception,' however odd 
we may think her way of expressing herself, we cannot doubt 


that she meant to give her approval to the doctrine that she 
was conceived without sin, and so that the truth of that doc- 
trine must be regarded as miraculously guaranteed. 

Shortly after the pilgrimages to Lourdes others were 
organized to Paray-le-Monial. This had been the scene of 
the revelations of the blessed Marguerite Marie Alacoque, 
the foundress of the now popular devotion to the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus. This is not, like the other two I mentioned,. 
a revelation of our own time, though a great impetus was 
given to that devotion by the beatification of this nun by 
Pius IX. She lived at the end of the seventeenth century, 
the time when the strife between the Jesuits and the Janse- 
nists was the hottest. Her revelations were patronized by the 
Jesuits and condemned by the Jansenists. With the late 
Pope the Jesuits were all-powerful. It is curious that the 
origin of this Jesuit devotion seems to be fairly traceable to a 
Puritan divine, Goodwin, who was chaplain to Oliver Crom- 
well. Goodwin published books in which he dwelt much, in 
rather mystical language, on the point that our Lord's man- 
hood remains still united to His Divinity, and that He still 
retains His human heart and feelings. The priest who after- 
wards became director to the nun of whom I speak was for a 
considerable time in England, attached to the household of 
the Duke of York, afterwards James II., so that he might 
easily have become acquainted with Goodwin's writings. 
The poor nun herself was subject to what we heretics would 
call hysteric delusions, in the course of which she saw many 
visions in which, as always happens, the ideas of her waking 
hours were reproduced. All that Goodwin had said meta- 
phorically about our Lord's human heart was materialized 
and referred to that physical portion of our Lord's human 
frame. As a specimen, I mention one of the most celebrated 
of her visions, in which she saw our Lord's heart in His bosom 
burning as in a furnace, and her own heart placed as a small 
atom of fire in that furnace. You cannot pass by a Roman 
Catholic picture-shop without observing what vogue the ado- 
ration of the material heart of our Lord has now gained. It 
was much opposed by the Jansenists, so that it was not till 


after a century and a-half that Margaret Mary obtained, 
under Pius IX., the dignity of beatification, which is next 
below canonization. It has been objected that this wor- 
ship of a portion of our Lord's Body is downright Nes- 
torianism. In the course of the Nestorian controversy it 
was distinctly condemned to make a separation between 
our Lord's Godhead and His manhood, so as to offer wor- 
ship to the one not addressed to the other. And here the 
worship is not even offered to our Lord's entire humanity, but 
to a part of it. However, the lawfulness of this worship is 
not what I am discussing now. My object is to show that 
every one of these alleged revelations has a distinct bearing 
upon doctrine. Of course, however objectionable this super- 
stitious worship may appear to us, if our Lord has revealed 
His approval of it, our objections must be dismissed ; and so 
an infallibility which owns itself incompent to pronounce on 
the reality of alleged revelations really owns itself incompe- 
tent to pronounce on questions of doctrine which these reve- 
lations would seriously affect. So much it may well suffice 
to have said about the hesitations and vacillations of the 
infallible guide. I had intended to say something about 
positive errors into which he has fallen, but these I must 
reserve till next day. 




I HAVE thought it well to let you see how the theory of 
an infallible Church works in practice. In the former 
Lectures I have given proof enough that in a number of cases 
the guide who asks us to follow him prefers himself to follow, 
and shows by his hesitations that he is ignorant of the true 
path. I will now add some cases where he has actually 
struck into wrong paths, and has been compelled, with very 
lame apologies, to retrace his steps. I reserve the question 
whether Popes ever have been heretics until I come to speak 
of that theory which ascribes infallibility to the Pope person- 
ally. One instance, however, in which a Pope was compelled 
to retire with disgrace, after having attempted to thrust his 
infallibility into a sphere in which it failed to secure cor- 
rectness, is the department of Biblical criticism. 

The Council of Trent having stamped the Vulgate as 
* authentic,' ordered that a correct edition of this authorized 
Vulgate should be published. But little was done in fulfil- 
ment of this decree for nearly forty years, when the task was 
undertaken by Pope Sixtus V., a Pontiff who seems really to 
have believed in his own infallibility. He employed a Board 
of learned men to act as revisers, but in complete subordina- 
tion to himself. In his preface he claims the superiority to 
them which he exercised, as resulting from the singular pri- 
vilege which he enjoyed as successor to Peter, the Prince of 
the Apostles, for whom Christ prayed that his faith should 
not fail, and who was charged to confirm the other Apostles 
in the faith. Accordingly, he tells with complacency of the 
labour which, among all his other apostolic cares, he had 


spent on this work, day after day, and for several hours each 
day, reading the collections and opinions of others, and ba- 
lancing the reasons for the various readings ; the plan of the 
work being, that while his learned revisers collected the evi- 
dence, it was for him alone to decide on the validity of their 
arguments, and determine by his absolute judgment what 
reading was to be preferred to what. When the work was 
printed he examined each sheet with the utmost care, and 
corrected the press with his own hand. The edition ap- 
peared in 1590, with a Constitution prefixed, in which Sixtus 
affirmed the plenary authority of the edition for all future 
time (' hac nostra perpetuo valitura constitutione '). * By the 
fulness of apostolic power,' he says, 'we decree and declare 
that this edition, approved by the authority delivered to us 
by the Lord, is to be received and held as true, lawful, au- 
thentic, and unquestioned, in all public and private discus- 
sion, reading, preaching, and explanations.' He forbids the 
printing of this Bible for the space of ten years at any press 
but his own in the Vatican. After that time it might be 
printed elsewhere, but only from one of the Vatican copies. 
He forbade expressly the publication of various readings in 
copies of the Vulgate, and pronounced that all readings in 
other editions and manuscripts, which might vary from those 
of this Sixtine edition, should have no credit or authority 
for the future. It was forbidden to alter the version in the 
smallest particle ; and any person who should violate this 
Constitution, it was declared, would incur the indignation of 
Almighty God, and of His blessed Apostles Peter and Paul ; 
and was threatened with the greater excommunication, not 
to be absolved except by the Pope himself. 

This was the language of a man who really believed 
in his infallibility. But a glance at the volume was suf- 
ficient to convince any moderately learned man of the 
folly, not to say impiety, of such boastful presumption. 
Many passages were found covered with slips of paper 
on which new corrections had been printed ; others were 
scratched Xmt and merely corrected with a pen; and dif- 
ferent copies were corrected in different ways. A closer 



examination showed those competent to judge that the 
edition had graver faults than could be accounted for by 
printers' carelessness. Sixtus had changed the readings 
of those whom he had employed to report upon the text 
with the most arbitrary and unskilful hand ; and it was 
scarcely an exaggeration to say with Bellarmine that his 
precipitate self-reliance had brought the Church into the 
most serious peril. The death of Sixtus removed all con- 
straint, and the learned divines whose opinions had been 
overruled represented the true state of the case to his suc- 
cessor. There was then much embarrassment how to correct 
these undeniable errors ; and some men of weight advised 
the Pope to prohibit the use of the faulty books. But Bel- 
larmine counselled that the credit of Sixtus should be saved ; 
thereby, as he says in his autobiography, returning good for 
evil ; for Sixtus, for a reason of which I may speak later, had 
put Bellarmine's Controversies on the Index of prohibited 
books, ' donee corrigerentur/ Bellarmine's way of solving 
the difficulty was to lay the blame upon the printers,* although 
in his autobiography he makes no secret that those errors 
had been deliberately introduced by Sixtus himself, which he 
recommended should be imputed to the carelessness of others. 
Indeed Bellarmine's original proposal was a delightful illus- 
tration of the skill which the Order to which he belonged is 
popularly believed to possess, in knowing how to insinuate a 
falsehood in words consistent with truth. He recommended 
that the faulty readings should be said to have occurred 
' pr festinatione vel typographorum vel aliorum ' either the 
printers were to blame or somebody else. However, this evasion 

* If an author has sometimes had good reason to complain, in the words of the cele- 
brated erratum, ' printers have persecuted me without a cause,' the present case is 
one of several in which authors have taken their revenge on printers by trying to 
make them responsible for their own errors. A signal example is the virtuous indig- 
nation displayed by Warburton against his critic, Edwards, who had been ' such a 
dunce or a knave,' as to imagine that the editor, not the printers, was responsible 
for the well-known blunder in Warburton's edition of Shakespeare. Pope's state- 
ment that the story of ' Measure for Measure ' had been taken from the 5th novel of 
the 8th decade of Cinthio's novels, is printed in Warburton's edition with the 
abbreviations 'Dec.' and 'Nov./ written at full length, thus: 'Cinthio's novels, 
December 8, November 5.' 


Avas disdained in the preface to the new edition, written by 
Bellarmine himself, and still printed with the Roman Vulgate. 
No mention is made of ' somebody else,' and the errors are 
said to have occurred 'praeli vitio.' The preface tells that 
when the work had been printed, and when Pope Sixtus was 
going to publish it (implying that he had not published it*), 
perceiving that several errors of the press had crept in, he 
determined to have the whole work placed anew on the anvil. 
But that Sixtus really had any such intention is a statement 
for which there is no shadow of proof, and no probability. 
The edition of Clement, also published as authentic, differed 
from that of Sixtus in more than two thousand places. A 
list of these is given in the work of Dr. James, a former 
learned librarian of the Bodleian, called Bellum Papale, or 
Concordia Discors. And it became evident that the work of 
editing the Bible required patience, learning, critical sagacity, 
and that this was a work to which ' infallibility ' was unequal. 
We owe it to the wilfulness of Sixtus that this was so 
soon found out. If he had been content to follow the 
opinions of the experts whom he had consulted, no doubt his 
edition would have appeared without opposition, and the 
Constitution prefixed, in which Sixtus had plainly claimed 
for his text the guarantee of infallibility, would have been a 
great obstacle to its emendation by later criticism. 

I will mention one other department from which the 
Popes have had to retire with their prerogative of infalli- 
bility sorely discredited. In ordinary cases, as I have so 
often said, their policy has been to avoid committing them- 
selves ; but in some rare instances the case appeared to be so 
plain as to make caution unnecessary. One of these cases 
was when the notion was first seriously entertained by men 
of science, that the sun, not the earth, is the centre of our 
system, and that the earth, instead of being stationary, is 
in rapid motion. Such an idea was so opposed to reason 
and common sense, so contrary to the opinion entertained 
for many ages by philosophers, so at variance with the plain 
\vords of Scripture, that the Church authorities felt they were 

* We have a copy in our Library. 


quite safe in putting down teaching at once heretical and 
absurd. Now let me do every justice to the Roman autho- 
rities who took this false step. There is no error committed 
by the Popes or their councillors which we ought to be more 
ready to pardon and to sympathize with ; for their mistake 
was prompted by reverence for Scripture, and quite similar 
mistakes have been since committed by highly respected 
men in our own communion. But still if we make mistakes 
we confess them and profit by them. We do not pretend to 
be possessors of any infallibly accurate interpretation of 
Scripture, and we therefore cannot omit to use one of the few 
opportunities open to us of testing the pretensions of those 
who do make this claim. 

The present case is one of the most unpleasant that Ro- 
man Catholic controversialists have got to meet, for they 
cannot but be conscious that the best apologies they can 
offer are extremely unsatisfactory. They could save them- 
selves all trouble if they would frankly say, ' Our Church 
made a great mistake two hundred and fifty years ago. She 
then imagined statements to be heretical which we now know 
were not only not heretical, but were perfectly true. She is 
a great deal wiser now.' Perhaps the theory of develop- 
ment may be improved into a form which will allow that 
confession to be made. But if that time comes, we need dis- 
pute no more about the Church's infallibility : the whole 
claim will then have been given up. Meanwhile we have to 
consider whether any of the attempts have been successful 
that have been made to free the Roman Church from the- 
responsibility of mistakes which her rulers confessedly made 
at the beginning of the seventeenth century. 

It is well known to you all to what severe treatment 
Galileo was subjected for holding the doctrine about the- 
motion of the earth which is now held by every educated 
man ; or rather for being suspected of holding it. For Galileo 
did not categorically state this opinion as his own, but only 
introduced it in the form of a dialogue, so as not to make 
himself responsible for the opinions of either speaker. In. 
order that you should understand the necessity for this. 


caution, I had better briefly tell you those facts in his life 
with which we are concerned ;* and before discussing the 
dealings of the Inquisition with him in 1633, I must say 
something about the previous action of the Inquisition in 

Galileo had already a high place in the scientific world, 
when, in 1609, he was the first to turn a telescope on the 
heavens. All Europe soon rang with the news of the sur- 
prising announcements he was able to make, which entitled 
him to rank as the greatest philosopher of his age. The new 
facts thus brought to light speedily removed all doubts in 
Galileo's own mind as to the truth of the theory which Co- 
pernicus had put forward concerning the motion of the earth. 
One of the first of his discoveries, that of the satellites of Ju- 
piter, put the controversy concerning the true system of the 
universe in a new position. The old theory was that stars 
and planets all went round the earth. Here was a clear case 
of exception ; for these four newly-discovered stars unques- 
tionably made their revolutions, not round the earth, but 
round Jupiter. The sight of this planet, attended by its four 
satellites, was alone sufficient to shake the confidence of 
astronomers in their belief that the earth was the most im- 
portant body in the universe ; while the spectacle of these 
bodies performing in perfect order their revolutions round 
one celestial body could not but suggest an analogy reveal- 
ing the true relation of the planets to the sun. Again, when 
the theory was first put forward that the planets are bodies 
which only shine by the reflected light of the sun, it was 
objected that, if this were the case, Venus ought to present 
the same phases as the moon, changing from full face to 
a crescent, according as we saw more or less of the side 
illuminated by the sun. Copernicus made an unsuccessful 
attempt to explain this difficulty ; but when Venus was looked 
at through a telescope, she was seen actually going through 
those changes, the seeming absence of which when sought 

* I recommend those who have leisure to read The Private Life of Galileo, pub- 
lished by Macmillan in 1870, and to make the acquaintance of that most charming 
person, Galileo's daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. 


for by the naked eye had been considered a fatal objection 
to the Copernican theory. 

Galileo was a firm believer in the truth of Scripture, and 
as soon as he came to believe that the Copernican theory was 
true, he could not help also believing that it was not con- 
trary to the Bible. Accordingly, in 1613, he wrote a letter, 
defending this view, to Castelli, who was Mathematical Pro- 
fessor at Pisa. He said that the Bible was beyond doubt 
infallible; but that though the Scripture could not err, its 
interpreters might. Clearly we are not to interpret every 
word of Scripture literally ; for if so we should have to at- 
tribute to God hands, feet, and ears, and human and bodily 
emotions, such as anger, repentance, and hatred. There 
were obvious reasons why, in speaking incidentally of the 
sun, or of the earth, or other created bodies, the Scriptures 
should conform to popular language. For had a different 
course been pursued, the vulgar would have been only per- 
plexed, and have been rendered more difficult of persuasion 
in the articles concerning their salvation : 

c I believe that the intention of Holy Writ was to persuade 
men of the truths necessary to salvation ; such as neither 
science nor other means could render credible, but only the 
voice of the Holy Spirit. But I do not think it necessary to 
believe that the same God who gave us our senses, our speech, 
our intellect, would have us put aside the use of these to teach 
us instead such things as with their help we could find out 
for ourselves, particularly in the case of those sciences of 
which there is not the smallest mention in Scripture ; and 
above all in astronomy, of which so little notice is taken, that 
none of the planets, except the sun and moon, and once or 
twice only Venus, under the name of Lucifer, is so much 
as named there. Surely, if the intention of the sacred writers 
had been to teach the people astronomy, they would not have 
passed the subject over so completely.' 

This letter was the occasion of the first collision between 
Galileo and ecclesiastical authorities ; for though it was a 
private letter, a copy fell, either through indiscretion or trea- 
chery, into the hands of Dominicans at Florence, one of 


whom denounced it to the Holy Office at Rome. And na- 
turally it gave much offence that a layman should presume 
to teach theologians how to interpret Scripture. 

It is a commonplace with Roman Catholic apologists to 
say that Galileo had only himself to blame for the trouble 
he got into, through, as one of them expresses it, poking his 
nose into what was other people's business. * Why did he 
not stick to his mathematics, and leave the interpretation of 
Scripture to theologians ? He seemed determined to ruin 
himself. Had he not got a message from Cardinal Barberini 
(afterwards Pope Urban VIII.), telling him that he ought 
not to travel out of the limits of physics and mathematics, 
but confine himself to such reasonings as Ptolemy and Co- 
pernicus had used ? Declaring the views of Scripture theolo- 
gians maintain to be their own particular province.' Cardinal 
Bellarmine also had said that if Galileo spoke with circum- 
spection, and only as a mathematician, he would be put to 
no further trouble. 

If theologians at that time complained that astronomers 
had intruded into their province of interpreting Scripture, 
-astronomers have, with equal reason, complained that it was 
theologians who intruded into their province of interpreting" 
the appearances of the heavens. The fact was that the two 
provinces then overlapped, and there was ground on which 
one party had as much right to be as the other. Either the 
earth moves, or it does not. If it moves, theologians were 
wrong in inferring from Scripture that God had revealed that 
it is at rest; if it does not move, the Copernicans had wrongly 
interpreted the indications of their science. You know how 
the matter has ended. Roman Catholics and Protestants are 
now agreed that the theologians of two hundred years ago 
were wrong in the system of astronomy which they imagined 
they had derived from the Bible ; and Roman Catholics and 
Protestants agree in adopting the principles of Scripture in- 
terpretation which Galileo taught the theologians of his day. 
But it is necessary to explain how a collision had been 
avoided before, and what was meant by saying that Galileo 
ought to speak ' only as a mathematician.' The reason why 


the speculations of Copernicus about the earth's motion had 
been tolerated by ecclesiastics, while the writings of Galileo 
on the same subject were rigidly condemned, was that Ga- 
lileo's predecessors, in order to avoid shocking existing pre- 
judices, had taken some pains to represent the notion of the 
earth's motion, not as a true account of what actually takes 
place, but as a mathematical fiction imagined for the more 
convenient calculation of the places of the heavenly bodies. 
There is, you know, great virtue in an if. Theologians in- 
sisted on saying, without contradiction, that the earth does 
not move; but they had no objection to allow mathemati- 
cians to amuse themselves with the problem, 7/"the earth and 
the planets went round the sun, what appearances would the 
planets, on that hypothesis, present ? Galileo found that the 
answer to that question was, Exactly the appearances which 
we observe now; while, on the contrary, the observed appear- 
ances were not explained by the older theory. He could not 
then resist the conviction that the Copernican doctrine of the 
earth's motion was no mere mathematical fiction, but the 
absolute truth. 

Holding this belief, how could he acquiesce in the con- 
clusion that the Bible teaches the direct contrary ? From the 
language used by Roman Catholic writers one would imagine 
that Galileo had attempted to establish the earth's motion by 
an array of Bible texts, and to prove that the opposite doc- 
trine was an anti-Scriptural heresy. Far from this, all he- 
contended for was toleration for his own belief. He only 
endeavoured to make out that there was nothing in the Bible 
that forbade him to believe that the earth moved. And 
unless he imagined that the same thing could be scientifically 
true and theologically false, how was it possible for him, who 
believed that nothing false is taught as an article of faith in 
the Scriptures, when he had come to believe that the doctrine 
that the earth does not move is false, to avoid asserting that 
the doctrine that the earth is at rest is not taught in the 
Bible as an article of faith ? Nothing is so puzzling as a real 
love of truth to people who are not possessed of it themselves. 
The good old orthodox theologians of Galileo's day could 


not imagine what motive the philosopher could have for per- 
sisting in saying that it was the earth which went round the 
sun, and not the sun which went round the earth. That he 
should say so, merely because he was convinced it was true, 
was quite beyond their comprehension. It must be from love 
of opposition, from a wish to insult them, from sheer obstinacy, 
from self-conceit, or some other unworthy motive. And similar 
blindness to the claims of truth, and to the obligations which 
it imposes, is exhibited by the Roman Catholic apologists of 
the present day, who cry out against Galileo's imprudence 
and hot-headed meddling with theological questions. Surely 
more true zeal for the honour of Scripture was shown by 
Galileo, when he reasoned that the doctrine which he knew 
to be false could not be the doctrine of Scripture, than was 
shown by those ecclesiastics who were angry with him be- 
cause he would not allow them, without remonstrance, to 
stake the credit of Scripture on the maintenance of an utterly 
false philosophy ; and who, if allowed to have their own way, 
would have done as much injury to the reputation of the 
Bible as they have done to the doctrine of the infallibility 
of the Church of Rome. 

I return now to the history. When Galileo's letter was 
brought under the notice of the Roman Inquisition there 
was great unwillingness to deal harshly with the philosopher, 
who was then at the height of his reputation, and who had 
many and powerful friends at Rome itself, where he had 
recently exhibited his telescope, amid general admiration. 
Now, in every criminal trial there are two questions a ques- 
tion of law, and a question of fact. In the case of a trial for 
heresy, the question of fact is, What are the words which the 
accused person has spoken or written ? the question of law is 
whether these words contain heresy. The practice of the 
Inquisition is only to deal directly with the question of fact ; 
while the question of law is referred to a special Board of 
skilled theologians, under the title of Qualifiers, their business 
being to state the quality of the propositions submitted to- 
them, and in particular whether or not they are heretical. 
Now, the Inquisition was able to pronounce Galileo's- 


acquittal on the question of fact. The document submitted 
to them only purported to be a copy of a letter written by 
Galileo : where was the original r It could not be produced. 
No doubt, if the Inquisitors had been malevolently disposed, 
they might have resorted to such further inquiry as would 
either have brought the letter home to Galileo, or at least 
would have proved that it truly expressed his sentiments. 
But they were content, in the absence of positive evidence, 
to pronounce a verdict of Not Guilty ; only they took care 
that the verdict should be, Not Guilty, but don't do it again. 

They obtained a report from their 'qualifiers/ which ran 
in the following terms : 

(i). The proposition that the sun is the centre of the 
world, and immoveable from its place, is absurd, philosophi- 
cally false, and formally heretical, because it is expressly 
contrary to Holy Scripture. 

(2). The proposition that the earth is not the centre of the 
world, nor immoveable, but that it moves, and also with a 
diurnal motion, is also absurd, philosophically false, and 
theologically considered at least erroneous in faith. 

Galileo was not required to make abjuration, or to do 
penance, because he had not been convicted of heresy; but, 
by order of the Holy Office, Cardinal Bellarmine summoned 
him before him, and admonished him in the name of the 
Pope and of the Holy Office, under pain of imprisonment, 
that he must give up the opinion that the sun is the centre of 
the world and immoveable, and that the earth moves, and 
must not hold, teach it, or defend it either by word or writ- 
ing ; otherwise proceedings would be taken against him 
in the Holy Office. Galileo submitted, and promised to 

But it was not enough that Galileo should be personally 
warned against holding the heliocentric theory of the uni- 
verse : the whole world must be similarly instructed ;* and 
this was done by another tribunal. On March 5th, 1616, the 
Congregation of the Index, a Committee of Cardinals ap- 

* The publication by papal authority of the decision of the ' qualifiers ' in. 
Galileo's case will be mentioned presently. 


pointed by the Pope for the prevention of the circulation of 
dangerous books, published the following decree : 

' Since it has come to the knowledge of this Holy Con- 
gregation that the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether 
opposed to the Divine Scripture, of the mobility of the earth, 
and the immobility of the sun, which Nicolas Copernicus, in 
his work De revolutionibus erbium caclestium, and Didacus 
a Stunica in his Commentary on Job, teach, is being pro- 
mulgated and accepted by many, as may be seen from a 
printed letter of a certain Carmelite Father (Foscarini), en- 
titled, c., wherein the said Father has attempted to show 
that the said doctrine is consonant to truth, and not opposed 
to Holy Scripture ; therefore, lest this opinion insinuate itself 
further to the damage of Catholic truth, this Congregation 
has decreed that the said books, Copernicus De revohitionibus,. 
and Stunica on Job, be suspended till they are corrected, but 
that the book of Foscarini the Carmelite be altogether pro- 
hibited and condemned, and all other books that teach the 
same thing.' 

You might understand, from what I have said before, the 
kind of correction with which the book of Copernicus might 
be tolerated. But we have direct evidence in a later ' moni- 
tum ' published by the Congregation four years later. It 
states that it had been deemed necessary to prohibit the 
book of Copernicus because it ventures to state, not by way 
of hypothesis, but as actual truth, propositions concerning 
the motion of the earth, repugnant to the Holy Scripture and 
to its true and Catholic interpretation, a thing by no means 
to be tolerated in any Christian man. But, since the works 
of Copernicus are in other respects useful, permission for 
their circulation is given, provided every passage where the 
motion of the earth is asserted as a fact, is altered so as to 
indicate that this is merely an assumption made by the 
author. And then a detailed list is given of the necessary 

* I may as well here add a caution against a common confusion between Prohibi- 
tory and Expurgatory Indexes. The object of the Prohibitory Index is obvious 
enough, namely, to warn the faithful against mischievous books ; and of course to- 


While speaking of the Congregation of the Index, I may 
mention that it continued its war on the Copernican theory 
for about two centuries. The Index of 1704 contains the 
comprehensive prohibition, * all books that teach the mo- 
bility of the earth, or the immobility of the sun.' A striking 
proof that this prohibition did not remain a dead letter is 
afforded by the preface to what is commonly called the Jesuits'* 
edition of Newton's Principia. Whether apprehensive that 
their own book might be placed on the Index, and its sale 
forbidden, or that they might suffer in some other way for 
the publication of a book so plainly teaching the mobility of 
the earth, they tender in the preface the following apology: 

' Newton, in this third book, supposes the motion of the 
earth. We could not explain the author's propositions other- 
wise than by making the same supposition. We are there- 
fore forced to sustain a character which is not our own ; but 
we profess to pay the obsequious reverence which is due to 
the decrees pronounced by the sovereign Pontiffs against 
the motion of the earth.' 

I cannot help observing, in passing, how the despotic 
system of the Church of Rome inevitably leads to scepticism. 

such warnings full publicity was given. But cases might arise, such as that which 
has now come before us, where a book in the main innocent, or even useful, was in 
places disfigured by some erroneous teaching. The possessors of such books were 
mercifully permitted to use them, provided they first gave them up to the Inquisitors 
in order to have them returned to them with the faulty matter expunged. The 
Expurgatory Indexes contained directions what passages were to be thus blotted 
out. But it is plain that these directions must be reserved for the private use of 
those who were to make the corrections ; for if an Expurgatory Index got into 
general circulation, it would evidently be infinitely more mischievous than the books 
themselves, all whose bad passages it would present in a concentrated form. The 
attempts, however, to keep such Indexes secret were not quite successful. Some 
fell into the hands of Protestants, who naturally triumphed on discovering that in 
some instances genuine sayings of Fathers were directed to be expunged because 
they had too Protestant a sound. 

A copy of De la Bigne's Library of the Fathers, contained in our Library, has 
undergone this expurgation, the certificate of which is to be found in the beginning 
of the second volume. The faulty passages in some' cases have paper pasted over 
them, in others are blotted out with a pen. The shelf-mark is GG. e. 5-8. The 
expurgations will be found to be those directed in Quiroga's Index, the shelf-mark of 
which is N. f. 37. 

* The editors were really members of a different religious order. 


No one can trust his neighbour, or be sure that he really be- 
lieves the doctrine which he professes. No one can believe 
that the authors of the very intelligent commentary on New- 
ton's Principia, to which this advertisement was prefixed, 
did in their hearts pay more reverence to the decrees of the 
supreme Pontiff against the motion of the earth than the 
earth pays to them herself; and when we have such a strik- 
ing proof how Roman Catholic divines will, in order to pre- 
serve external unity, deny their most certain convictions, 
what value can we attribute to the submission made to the 
decrees of the Vatican Council by men who had given good 
proof of their falsity ? nay, what certainty have we that any 
Roman Catholic really believes what he says about Purga- 
tory or Transubstantiation, not to speak of a disputed doc- 
trine like the Immaculate Conception, or the sanction that 
bishops and priests have given to such a tale as that of 
La Salette ? 

These prohibitions continued in force for a century longer. 
At the beginning of the present century the astronomer 
Lalande, made great exertions at Rome to have the names 
of Galileo, Copernicus, and Foscarini, removed from the 
Index; but in vain. Accordingly, the Index for 1828 con- 
tains the names of these three culprits ; but the prohibition 
against all books teaching the mobility of the earth was 
quietly dropped out of the later editions of the Index. It was 
only on the accession of Gregory XVI., the predecessor of 
Pius IX., that the important step was taken, and the attempt 
to insist on believing on the immobility of the earth was 
finally abandoned. For the first time for some two hundred 
years an Index of prohibited books was published, in which 
no confession of previous error was made, but the names of 
Galileo, Copernicus, and Foscarini, were silently withdrawn. 
Even then there were some at the Papal Court who regarded 
this as a weakminded concession to modern prejudice. I 
remember well how common it was in Roman Catholic pe- 
riodicals to see the Newtonian theory of gravitation spoken 
of as if it were a temporary scientific fashion, likely as time 
went on to blow over. I remember that when Cardinal 


Cullen came over here it was asserted that he had committed 
himself as an Anti-Copernican. Mr. St. George Mivart quotes 
a priest now living, a head of a college, as saying, ' How 
glorious it would be if it should turn out after all that the 
sun does move round the earth, and that the Church had 
been all the time in the right.' But if the race of Anti-Coper- 
nicans is not yet extinct,* their better instructed Roman 
Catholic friends are now ashamed of them, and at the present 
day those of them who discuss the case of Galileo do not 
venture to deny the scientific truth of that philosopher's doc- 
trines, but offer other apologies, the value of which I will 
consider presently. 

I return now to the history of Galileo. He xvent back to 
Florence much disheartened at the condemnation of the Co- 
pernican doctrines, but professing outward submission to the 
Papal decisions. It would be unreasonable to suppose that 
he accepted them in his heart ; and we cannot help regard- 
ing as ironical some of the language he used. Thus, for 
instance, in a tract which he published on the motions of 
comets, he says : * Since the motion attributed to the earth, 
which I, as a pious and Catholic person, consider most false 
and not to exist, accommodates itself so well as to explain so 
many and such different phenomena, I shall not feel sure but 
that, false as it is, it may not just as deludingly correspond 
with the phenomena of comets.' He preserved the same 
verbal conformity to the commands of his superiors in the 

* The occasion of my article in the Contemporary Review (referred to, page 216) 
was, that I had happened to come across a periodical published in Paris by the Abbe 
Cloquet, which claimed for itself an immense circulation, and the main object of which, 
number after number, was to denounce the Copernican theory, and to accuse of 
heresy those of his ecclesiastical superiors who countenanced a doctrine condemned 
by the highest authority in his Church. The circulation of such a periodical in our 
own day appeared to me so very curious a phenomenon, that I could not help speaking 
of it, nor did I see any need for refusing to put the story into print. But I was careful 
to state that the higher ecclesiastical authorities in France, far from sympathizing 
with Cloquet's teaching, were making every effort to put it down. In fact Cloquet 
was putting dangerous weapons into the hands of those enemies, not only of the Ro- 
man Church, but of Christianity, who desired to exclude that Church from all share 
in the education of the people. The spectacle of priests disobedient to their bishops 
is not unknown in our own Church ; and it was with some surprise, but with real sym- 


work which he published in 1632, which was the cause of his 
subsequent troubles. He gave it the form of a dialogue, 
which enabled him to state the arguments on both sides 
without committing himself to an adoption of either ; and he 
said that he proposed to discuss the Copernican system as a 
mere mathematical hypothesis, and to show, not its absolute 
truth, but its superiority to some bad arguments by which it 
had been assailed. The disguise, however, was found to be a 
little too thin. Johnson said that when he reported the speeches 
in Parliament he took care that the Whig dogs should not get 
the best of it ; and certainly the Anti-Copernicans did not get 
the best of it in Galileo's report. Their advocate was felt by 
the reader to be no very wise person : *un sciocco? he was called 
by the papal reporters on the dialogue. And what made the 
matter worse, it is said that the Pope (Urban VIII.) recognized 
in the arguments put into the mouth of this silly speaker some 
which he had formerly used himself in discussion with Galileo. 
So the sale of the dialogue was forbidden, and a summons was 
served on Galileo ordering him to appear before the Inquisi- 
tion at Rome. He made every effort to escape obedience, 
pleading inability to undertake the journey (a more formi- 
dable business then than now), on account of his age (he was 
seventy), and the bad state of his health, and asking for at 
least a reprieve. His excuses were not accepted by the Pope, 
who said he might come in a litter if he pleased ; but come 
he must. The Florentine Inquisitor visited Galileo, and found 

pathy, that I saw that our neighbours' discipline was not as perfect as I had imagined 
it to be. 

Father Ryder accuses me of bad taste in doing something like ' making play with 
a tipsy priest.' I have never heard that there was any impeachment on Cloquet's 
moral character, and I rather think that Father Ryder does not mean to bring any. 
I take the phrase ' tipsy priest,' to be merely a specimen of controversial logic. 
Insubordination is wrong, tipsiness is wrong, therefore when you mean an insub- 
ordinate person you may speak of a tipsy one, if thereby greater odium can be 
cast on an opponent. Insubordination is most excusable when a private disobeys 
his captain's orders, because he knows that these orders are in direct opposition to 
the orders given the captain by the colonel. Cloquet clearly proved that he had that 
excuse ; for no one who, like him, is quite free from the modern prejudice that in 
matters of science philosophers know better than popes, can doubt that the helio- 
centric theory is a condemned heresy. 



him confined to his bed, and professing himself unable to 
take the journey in his then state of health. A certificate 
was forwarded, signed by three of the most eminent medical 
men in Florence, to the effect that Galileo was suffering- from 
hernia, and could not be moved without danger to his life. 
The answer from the Inquisition was, that if he did not come 
the Pope and the Holy Office would send down a commissary 
and a physician of their own, whose expenses would have to 
be defrayed at Galileo's cost. If they should find him able 
to travel they were at once to deprive him of his liberty, and 
send him up in irons ; if they should find that the move would 
involve danger of life, they were to send him up bound and 
in irons as soon as the danger was over. 

Under this persuasion Galileo was induced to face the 
journey to Rome, where he met with as much indulgence as 
the rules of the Inquisition permitted. Until personal ex- 
amination was necessary, he was allowed to lodge in the 
Florentine ambassador's palace, but on condition that he was 
to observe strict seclusion, and receive the visits of none but 
intimate friends. When personal examination was necessary, 
the three or four weeks he spent within the walls of the 
Inquisition were not passed in any close or unwholesome 
dungeon, but in the apartments of the Fiscal of the Inquisi- 
tion, where the attendance of his own servant was allowed 
him. Even this mitigated confinement had an unfavourable 
effect on his health. 

The result of the trial is well known. Galileo pleaded in 
vain that he had not infringed the injunction laid on him by 
defending an opinion already condemned, and the condemna- 
tion of which had been made known to him. When he urged 
that he had left the question undetermined, and had only 
discussed the probability of the Copernican hypothesis, he 
was told that therein he had committed a grave error, for 
that an opinion can in no manner be probable which has 
already been declared and defined to be contrary to the Di- 
vine Scriptures. The Inquisitors were certainly justified by 
the evidence when they arrived at the conclusion that there 
were very strong grounds for suspecting that Galileo held 


-the heretical doctrine of the earth's motion, and also the 
heresy that an opinion can be held and defended as probable 
after it has been declared and defined to be contrary to Holy 
Scripture. Accordingly, in order to remove from the minds 
of all Catholic Christians this vehement suspicion legitimately 
conceived against him, he was ordered to swear that with a 
sincere heart and faith unfeigned he abjured, cursed, and 
detested the above-named and all other heresies ; and to 
swear further that for the future he would not assert, either 
by word of mouth or in writing, anything to bring upon him 
similar suspicion. And in order that his grave and perni- 
cious error might not remain altogether unpunished, that he 
might be more cautious for the future, and be an example to 
others to abstain from offences of this sort, his book was pro- 
hibited by public edict ; he was condemned to the prisons of 
the Holy Office during the Pope's pleasure, and was com- 
manded for three weeks to recite the seven Penitential 
Psalms once a week. 

Galileo made his abjuration accordingly, but for the re- 
maining eight or nine years of his life never completely 
recovered his liberty ; for though his confinement was as 
little disagreeable as such a thing could be, he was never 
permitted to have quite free intercourse with his friends. 
He was for five months a guest with the Archbishop of 
Siena ; afterwards, when his residence in a city was thought 
to lead to a mischievous propagation of his opinions, he was 
allowed to reside in his own country-house, a little distance 
from Florence, but not to occupy his house in that city. He 
must remain in solitude, and neither invite nor receive guests 
for conference. When he asked special permission to go to 
Florence for medical advice, he was told that if he was trou- 
blesome the liberty he already enjoyed would be taken from 
him. At length he was once allowed to go. He was not 
permitted either to reprint his old books, or to print new 
ones. When he died, his power to make a will was disputed, 
and the question was raised whether his body might be 
placed in consecrated ground. That was decided in his 
favour; but when the Grand Duke proposed to raise a marble 

R 2 


monument to him, he received a message from the Pope that 
such an intention, if carried out, would be most pernicious, 
and that he must remember that Galileo during his life had 
caused scandal to all Christendom by his false and damnable 

In considering Romanist apologies for the treatment of 
Galileo, I have chiefly in view one of the ablest, published in 
the Clifton Tracts in 1854, and founded on two articles, one 
in the Dublin Review for July, 1838, the other in the Rambler 
for January, 1852. 

The apologist's first topic is the leniency shown to Galileo 
by the Inquisition, and therefore I have been careful to make 
due mention of the instances of their indulgence. If you 
should ever be in the wrong, and really deserve a scolding, 
the most approved method of getting out of the scrape is to 
wait until those who have good reason to be angry with you 
make use in their wrath of some unadvisedly strong expres- 
sions. Then it is your turn : you may raise an outcry at the 
undeserved imputations that have been cast on you ; exag- 
gerate as much as possible the reproaches that have been 
heaped upon you ; and if you play your part well the original 
offence may be forgotten, and you may pass yourself off suc- 
cessfully as the aggrieved party. This is the common method 
of Roman Catholic apologists for their Church on points on 
which her doctrines or her actions have excited prejudice 
against her. Their plan is to commence the reply with a 
highly coloured account of the hard things Protestants have 
said against them ; and then by way of contrast to produce 
the maligned doctrine with everything offensive kept care- 
fully in the background, so as to enlist the reader's sympa- 
thies on the side of injured innocence, and make him wonder 
that anything so harmless should be assailed by such malig- 
nant misrepresentations. 

Thus the article to which I now refer begins by informing 
us that Protestants (we are not told who) had asserted that 
Galileo had been kept for five years in the dungeons of the 
Inquisition, that he had been put on the rack, that his eyes 
had been put out by the cruel Inquisitors ; whereas, his pen- 


ance had been nothing more than the recital of the Peniten- 
tial Psalms once a week, and his place of imprisonment only 
the Dominican Convent, where the officers of the Inquisition 
themselves resided, or the 'delightful palace' of the Tuscan 
ambassador at Rome, and finally Galileo's country-place near 
Florence. The account I have given you of the restrictions 
under which he suffered, and which destroyed the happiness 
of the last years of his life, will have shown you that this 
author's rose-coloured picture is as far from the truth as the 
Protestant exaggerations which he quotes, and that the 
* tender mercies' of the Inquisition are sufficiently cruel. 

Let us suppose, for example, that the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury had taken it into his head that the great telescope 
made by our former Chancellor, the late Lord Rosse, was 
dangerous to the Christian faith ; suppose that our astrono- 
mer was compelled to go over to London to answer for his 
heresies ; that no plea of age or ill-health was allowed to 
excuse him from the journey; that he was there obliged to 
observe the strictest seclusion ; and that after some months' 
delay there, when eventually allowed to return home, he was 
ordered to consider himself a prisoner in his own house at 
Parsonstown ; that there he was forbidden to publish scien- 
tific books, or to hold conference with men of science, and 
that he asked in vain for permission to come up to Dublin 
for medical advice. Let us suppose all this, and what should 
we say of the clergyman who should set up for such treat- 
ment such a defence as this : To be sure, the offence of the 
heretical telescope was one which could not be overlooked ; 
but then consider how mildly he was treated. He was not 
put into a dungeon with common felons, but allowed to 
occupy in the prison the Governor's own private apartments ; 
he was not kept in jail for five years ; we did not put him on 
the rack ; and, above all, we did not put out his eyes ! 

Although I accept the statement that Galileo was not put 
on the rack, it is right to mention that the point has been 
contested. It appears from the sentence on Galileo that his 
answers not being thought satisfactory, it was deemed ne- 
cessary^to proceed to a 'rigoroso esame,' and I think it is 


sufficiently proved that in the language of the Inquisition this- 
phrase meant an examination in which torture might be used. 
Torture was an established method with the Inquisition. It 
was used in secular courts at the time, and the Inquisition 
considered that they were less able [than other courts to dis- 
pense with it, because the offence of heresy being a secret 
one, residing in the mind alone, and therefore one which an 
accused person could easily deny, special means were neces- 
sary to elicit his real opinions. In the case, however, of 
children and very old persons a minor form of torture was 
commonly used, that of threatening torture ; and accused 
persons in the hands of the Inquisition had good reason to 
take such threats very seriously. There is clear evidence that 
torture was threatened in Galileo's case ; but as far as I can 
judge, not good reason to think that it was actually used. But 
the point seems to me of quite small importance. The opinion 
expressed in Galileo's abjuration, that the doctrine of the 
earth's motion was false, was certainly not that with which 
he had entered the walls of the Inquisition ; and the argu- 
ments which induced him to express a change of mind were 
certainly not addressed to his intellect. Put the question of 
torture aside ; and still Galileo was informed that the opinion 
which he really held had been pronounced heretical, and 
that if he again taught it, he would be treated as a relapsed 
heretic. Translating this into English, it meant that if 
he were dealt mildly with, the result would be lifelong im- 
prisonment ; if the law were fully carried out, he must be 
burned alive, as Giordano Bruno and others had been. 
The ecclesiastical authorities at the time, no doubt, thought 
they had gained a triumph when they obtained Galileo's 
abjuration ; but that abjuration remains their lasting dis- 
grace, because it could only have been obtained by means 
which it was a disgrace to use. If I had time to discuss 
with you the question of the propriety of torturing and 
burning heretics, I should add another to the list of papal 
errors ; and an error is not less an error though he who falls- 
into it may be able to produce companions in his mistake^ 
and to cite respectable authorities who led him into it. 


The question, however, whether or not the Inquisitors 
dealt mildly with Galileo is irrelevant to the subject of this 
lecture. What we are concerned with is, Did the Inquisitors, 
acting under the Pope's authority, and with his personal 
concurrence, oblige Galileo to profess belief in what we now 
know to be false ; and if so, how can Infallibility be claimed 
for an authority guilty of such a prodigious blunder ? Our 
apologist contends that it was right to require a retracta- 
tion, because the scientific arguments by which Galileo sup- 
ported his opinion were not as good as have been since 
obtained on the same side ; and that his doctrine being likely 
to prejudice in men's minds their respect for the Bible, he 
might properly be called on to condemn and renounce it, and 
declare it to be < false in the sense of unproved.' 

False in the sense of unproved ! The apologist must have 
counted on readers ignorant of the English language. He 
might nearly as well have said, * False in the sense of true.' 
Who can be persuaded that to declare a doctrine to be ab- 
surd, false, and expressly contrary to Holy Scripture, means 
no more than that the arguments which support it fall short 
of demonstration ? Besides, it would be for astronomers, not 
for theologians, to judge whether the scientific arguments by 
which Galileo supported his views amounted to demonstration 
or not. If theologians undertook to find fault with arguments 
which men of science have since found to be abundantly con- 
clusive, they were justly punished for ' poking their nose into 
other people's business.' But they made no such mistake. 
The tribunal of the Inquisition never dreamed of setting itself 
up as an authority for pronouncing on the progress of science. 
In knowledge of the science of astronomy they must have 
been perfectly well aware that Galileo was infinitely their 
superior. What they thought they did know better than he 
was how to interpret Scripture. It was as theologians they 
interfered ; and interfered, as we now know, wrongly. And 
indeed how could science ever have come to its present state 
if they could have had their way ? Every good Catholic was 
forbidden even to read a book which taught the mobility of 
the earth. You might find something to say in defence of an 


attempt to silence an ignorant person who, without any real 
knowledge, had scoffingly asserted the mobility of the earth, 
only in order to bring the authority of Scripture into con- 
tempt ; but nothing to justify an attempt to suppress the 
respectful investigations of the most eminent man of science 
of the day. 

I have just said that the Inquisitors did not claim to know 
more about scientific arguments than Galileo, but that they 
did claim to know better than he how to interpret Scripture. 
Yet it turns out now that, with regard to the interpretation of 
Scripture, Galileo was right, and they were wrong. The 
condemnation of Galileo has been a good deal discussed with 
reference to the question of the Pope's personal infallibility. 
You will see now that it cuts much deeper, and affects the 
question of the Church's infallibility, speaking by no matter 
what organ. The Council of Trent declared that it is the 
province of Holy Mother Church to judge of the true sense 
and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Now there are 
many texts of Scripture which we hold that the Roman 
Church interprets wrongly ; but we have no means of forcing 
her to own that we are right and she wrong. We have the 
means in the case of such texts as ' He hath made the round 
world so fast that it cannot be moved.' From such texts it 
was inferred in the sixteenth century that the physical fact of 
the immobility of the earth was a revealed truth. Every- 
one entitled to speak on behalf of ' Holy Mother Church ' 
asserted it. If general consent, universal long tradition, 
absence of opposing view, can prove any interpretation of 
Scripture to be lawfully imposed by the head of the Church, 
this certainly was so. And yet it has now to be confessed that 
that interpretation was wrong. It must be owned, therefore, 
that whatever respect the Church may claim when she inter- 
prets Scripture, she is not infallible, and that the Church of 
a more learned age may wisely review and correct the de- 
cisions of its predecessors. 

Yes ; but it will be said that the Church's infallibility 
when she interprets Scripture is limited to questions of faith 
and morals, and that the question of the earth's mobility 


is not one of faith. But this is to accuse the heads of the 
Church in Galileo's time of a far graver mistake. It is surely 
a less error to decide a question that belongs to your province 
wrongly, than not to know what belongs to your province, 
and what does not. If modern apologists are right, the 
Church in Galileo's time not only was wrong in pronounc- 
ing it to be heresy to hold that the earth went round the 
sun ; but was utterly wrong in imagining that either of the 
opinions the sun goes round the earth, or the earth goes 
round the sun possibly could be heresy, the whole subject 
being outside the domain with which faith has to deal. On 
the contrary, the Church in Galileo's time held that it was of 
faith to maintain the absolute correctness of everything as- 
serted in express words of Scripture, and that the doctrine of 
the earth's fixity was so asserted. Some parts of Scripture, 
dealing directly with faith or morals, are eminently dog- 
matical, and are spoken of as scripta propter se ; other parts 
are only dogmatic per accidens ; but the Church has taught 
that all are alike inspired. But, in any case, no loyal mem- 
ber of the Roman Church is justified in raising the question 
whether, in Galileo's case, she went out of her province. It 
is for the Church to ascertain the limits of her own powers. 
How could she condemn any heresy, if it was open to the 
accused person to deny the Church's jurisdiction altogether 
with regard to the question in dispute r The truth is, that 
modern Roman apologists have fallen into a condemned 
heresy themselves. For I have already told you that one of 
the heresies condemned in the sentence on Galileo was ' that 
an opinion can be held and defended as probable after it has 
been declared and defined to be contrary to Holy Scripture ' ; 
and the doctrine of the earth's mobility was so declared and 

It remains to discuss how the condemnation of Galileo 
directly affects the question of Papal Infallibility. It is cer- 
tain that the decrees of the Inquisition and of the Congrega- 
tion of the Index expressed the sentiments of the individual 
Pope who was the prime mover in the whole business, and 
who even personally presided at some of the meetings. But 


on various pleas it has been contended that the tribunal 
which published the decrees was not the Pope speaking in- 
fallibly. That he did not speak infallibly then we need not 
dispute ; but if he did not speak infallibly then, it will be 
impossible to know that he ever speaks infallibly.* 

But before discussing any of these pleas, let me say that 
if they were successful they would only transfer the present 
instance from the subject of the present lecture, 'The Blun- 
ders of the Infallible Guide,' to that of the preceding lecture, 
' The Silences of the Infallible Guide.' We have seen that the 
Popes appear to think the gift of infallibility quite too pre- 
cious for everyday use, and that when a disputed question 
arises it is the hardest matter to obtain a decision on it from 
the infallible authority. But there are some occasions which 
would extort speech from the most taciturn of human beings ; 
and I imagine that the most silent of men might be induced 
to speak, if he saw a fellow-creature about to be severely 
punished, perhaps burned alive, in his name, and by his 
alleged authority, upon a charge of heresy which he had the 
means of infallibly knowing was no heresy at all. It cannot 
plausibly be maintained that a Church possessing an infal- 
lible guide to secure her from heresy should appoint a special 
tribunal for the expulsion of heresy, and that that tribunal, 
acting under the very eyes of the Church's head, should be 
left in uncertainty what is or is not heresy. I have used the 
illustration of an alchemist allowing his own children to 
starve. This would be exactly verified if we were to believe 

* The Rev. W. W. Roberts (see Guardian, Aug. 10, 17, 1887, and his work, Ponti- 
fical Decrees against the Motion of the Earth) has collected some instances from the 
pontificate of the late Pope, Pius IX., in which decisions to which the Pope was less 
directly committed than in the case of Galileo, were treated as binding on all Catholics. 
For example, on February 20, 1857, the Congregation of the Index condemned and 
prohibited certain works of a German theologian, Giinther. The decree contained no 
doctrinal statement, and gave no reason for the prohibition. But some of Giinther's fol- 
lowers being still unwilling to own the unsoundness of their master's tenets, the Pope 
wrote an apostolic letter to the Archbishop of Cologne, known as the Brief 'Eximiam 
tuam,' in which he says : ' That decree sanctioned by our authority, and published 
by our command, plainly ought to have sufficed that the whole question be judged 
entirely settled, and that all who boast of the Catholic name should clearly and dis- 
tinctly understand that complete obedience was to be paid to it, and that the doctrine 


that the Pope is infallible when he tells other people what is 
heresy, but that he is either unable or unwilling to ascer- 
tain this when it is absolutely necessary for the guidance 
of his own conduct. It is nothing less than a gross libel on 
Pope Paul V., who was Pope in 1616, to assert that he did 
not bring all the resources of his infallibility into play in the 
case of Galileo ; and whatever errors we may accuse him of, 
we can honestly acquit him of this charge. 

I need not then tarry over the plea that either Paul in 
1616, or Urban in 1633, erred, but only as a private doctor, 
not as a Pope speaking ex cathedra. With regard to the 
question when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, the only rational- 
distinction is between his official and non-official utterances. 
We do not hold the Papacy responsible for everything 
Urban may have said in conversation to Galileo ; but in 
all the transactions which I am discussing it is clear that 
neither Urban nor Paul acted as a private doctor, but as 
Pope. It is said, however, that the Pope is both teacher 
and governor of the Church, and that though infallible as 
teacher, he may err in the steps he takes as governor, for 
the preservation of the Church's discipline. But when th& 
punishment of heresy is concerned, it is impossible to se- 
parate his disciplinary from his teaching power. It may 
be assumed as certain that the Pope would not punish a 
man for heresy without having first ascertained that the 
doctrine which he held was heresy ; and the Pope could 
not teach the world more distinctly that a certain doctrine 

contained in Giinther's works could not be accounted sound.' The second Papal 
utterance quoted by Mr. Roberts was made on the occasion of a meeting of German 
divines and men of science in the autumn of 1863. The Pope expressed himself dis- 
satisfied with their acknowledgment that ' Catholics are to submit in all their scientific 
investigations to the dogmatic utterances of the infallible authority of the Church.' 
Not merely so, he taught them, ' but also to the decisions pertaining to doctrine that 
are put forth by Pontifical congregations, as also to those heads of doctrine which 
are retained by the common consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions 
so certain, that opinions adverse to the same, though they cannot be called heretical^ 
yet deserve some other theological censure.' A third instance relates to a condemna- 
tion of the teaching of a Louvain Professor, Ubaghs, which, though never officially 
made known to the. world, was treated by Papal authority in 1866 and in 18/0 as 
absolutely decisive with respect to the doctrines in question. 


is heretical than by setting the example of punishing a man 
for holding it. 

Neither need I linger over a plea in which some Romanists 
find much comfort, that the condemnation of Galileo does 
not contain what is called the customary clause of Papal 
confirmation at the end. We may be sure that Paul V. did 
not knowingly omit anything necessary to give validity to 
his sentence ; and the fact is, that the ' custom ' in question 
has come in since Paul's time, and that this clause does not 
appear in previous decrees of the Congregation of the Index.* 

Sixtus V. appointed fifteen Congregations of Cardinals, 
assigning to each its proper function, but with the limitation 

* that they refer to us all the more important and difficult 
matters under consideration.' It is now customary that the 
secretary of the Congregation should certify when a matter 
has been thus referred to the Pope ; but clearly the only im- 
portant question is whether the matter has been thus referred, 
and not whether the secretary has certified it. Such a cer- 
tificate was certainly not necessary in the case of the Holy 
Office, the highest of all the Congregations, having jurisdic- 
tion over every member of the Church of whatever rank. On 
account of its supreme importance, the Pope was wont to be 
its president, and the votes to be taken in his presence ; so 
that no important decree could go forth without having been 
first submitted to the Pope. The Pope indisputably did thus 
take part in the decision in Galileo's case. 

Assuredly Galileo and the Copernicans of his day 
were not allowed to suppose that to persist in their heresy 
would be to resist anything short of infallible wisdom. 
They \vere pressed with the words of the Bull of Sixtus V., 
by which the Congregation of the Index was remodelled : 

* They are to examine and expose the books which are re- 
pugnant to the Catholic doctrines and Christian discipline, 
and after reporting them to us, they are to condemn them by 
our authority.' What was done by the Inquisition in Galileo's 
case was not a mere verdict on a matter of fact on which the 

* Mr. Roberts has not been able to find any decree of the Index with the clause 
earlier than January 17, 1729. (See Bullarium, ed. Lux., vol. xiii., p. 380.) 


judges might pardonably go wrong, but it was the decision by 
the Pope's authority on a question of doctrine. Pope Urban 
made that decision his own by directing (in 1633) that in order 
that these things might be known to all, copies of the sentence on 
Galileo were to be transmitted to all Apostolic Nuncios, and 
all Inquisitors of heretical pravity, especially the Florentine 
Inquisitors. These were to summon the professors of mathe- 
matics and to read the sentence for their instruction. This 
sentence refers to the interference of the Congregation of the 
Index as made ' to the end that so pernicious a doctrine ' as 
the Copernican * might be altogether taken away and spread 
no further to the heavy detriment of Catholic truth.' It states 
that the Congregation was held in the Pope's presence in 
which Galileo was ordered to give up this false opinion. It 
relates that Galileo had been formally made acquainted with 
'the declaration made by our Lord the Pope, and promul- 
gated by the Sacred Congregation of the Index/ the tenor 
whereof is that the doctrine of the motion of the earth and 
the fixity of the sun is contrary to the sacred Scriptures, and 
therefore can neither be defended or held. It may be added 
that the desired Papal confirmation in express terms was 
given by a later Pope, Alexander VII., in 1664, who repub- 
lished and confirmed the previous decrees with the words, 
* Cum omnibus et singulis in eo contentis auctoritate Apos- 
tolica tenore presentium confirmamus et approbamus.' I 
really recommend, therefore, Roman apologists to consider 
again whether it may not be possible to maintain that the 
sun actually does go round the earth, this being in my judg- 
ment quite as hopeful a line of defence as to deny that suc- 
cessive Popes officially asserted that it does. 

To conclude, then, the history of Galileo makes short 
work of the question. Is it possible for the Church of Rome 
to err in her interpretation of Scripture, or to mistake in 
what she teaches to be an essential part of the Christian 
faith ? She can err, for she has erred. She has made many 
errors more dangerous to the souls of men, but never com- 
mitted any blunder more calculated to throw contempt on 
her pretensions in the minds of all thinking men, than when 


she persisted for about two hundred years in teaching that it 
was the doctrine of the Bible, and therefore an essential part 
of the Catholic faith, that the earth stands still, and that the 
sun and planets revolve daily round it. 

Since this lecture was written, a couple of articles on this 
subject have been published by Mr. St. George Mivart (Nine- 
teenth Century, July, 1885, July, 1887), of which a very brief 
notice will suffice. Mr. Mivart professes to be a Roman Ca- 
tholic, but he is fortunate that he did not live two hundred years 
ago, for if he had then expressed the views he holds now, 
the Pope, if he had him in his power, would certainly have 
punished him severely as a contumacious heretic of the worst 
kind. The Church of Rome changes so much, that what was 
heretical two hundred years ago may be quite orthodox now, 
and possibly Mr. Mivart's teaching may hereafter be ac- 
cepted ; but at present it is calculated to try severely the 
toleration of his ecclesiastical superiors ; and his best chance 
of escape is, that the ' Judge of controversies ' will, according 
to his usual habit, abstain from pronouncing any decision on 
the questions raised by Mr. Mivart, until the controversy 
comes to settle itself. Such forbearance is all the more 
likely, because times have so changed with the Roman 
Church that she is now glad on any terms to have the credit 
of having men of science in her communion, and is willing, 
therefore, to let them say what they like. It does not commit 
her authority, and may retain waverers of a scientific turn of 

Mr. Mivart throws overboard, as any man of common 
sense would, the subterfuges by which it had been at- 
tempted to deny that the highest ecclesiastical authorities 
were distinctly pledged to the condemnation of Galileo. 
He says that it has now been ascertained that what is 
declared by authoritative congregations to be opposed to 
the teaching of Scripture, of the holy Fathers, and of 
antecedent ecclesiastical tribunals, concerning a matter of 
science, may nevertheless be true. His inference is that 

xiv.] MR. ST. GEORGE MIVART. 255 

Roman Catholic men of science may pursue their investiga- 
tions regardless of any judgment ecclesiastical tribunals may 
pronounce on them, it having been proved by the voice of 
history that it is not to ecclesiastical congregations, but to 
men of science, that God has committed the elucidation of 
scientific questions. The freedom thus happily gained for 
astronomical science, he concludes, extends to all science, 
geology, biology, sociology, political economy, history, and 
Biblical criticism ; for whatever in fact comes within the reach 
of human inductive research and is capable of verification. 
This may be very good doctrine, but it strikes me that it is 
Protestant and not Roman Catholic doctrine. 

Mr. Mivart, however, is only a Protestant as far as re- 
gards the subjects in which he himself takes an interest. 
He has given much attention to biology, and is an au- 
thority on that subject, so he claims for himself perfect 
freedom. He takes much interest in Biblical criticism, and 
would have no scruple in accepting the most advanced 
speculations which German rationalists have made con- 
cerning the Old Testament, which he imagines are in the 
main correct, though they may have been pushed to un- 
justifiable extremes. As far as the Roman Catholic laity 
are concerned, they are commonly so little acquainted with 
Scripture, that he would not be surprised if some of them 
were even disposed to chuckle over a disproof of the Bible's 
truth, as being a matter likely to" ' dish ' the Protestants, and 
so make their own religious position more secure. But he 
perceives that better instructed Roman Catholics would feel 
that it would dish themselves too if the Church's teaching on 
so important a question, from her foundation until now, was 
proved to be mistaken. He seems to be ignorant that the 
Vatican Council has asserted the inspiration of Scripture in 
a way that cannot be reconciled with the speculations of 
which I speak. But he confesses the reluctance that Roman 
Catholic divines would feel to adopting conclusions opposed 
to a unanimous consensus of theologians, and to the ordinary 
teaching~of the Church, which has constantly appealed to 
Scripture for proof of her doctrines. He however urges that 


the basis of doctrines may be taken away and the struc- 
ture remain unharmed. Are not the Pseudo-Isidorian De- 
cretals now given up as spurious by all learned men, but the 
system of doctrines founded on them remains ? Do we not 
now know that the arguments used at many Councils are 
utterly bad, but the conclusions obtained by these arguments 
remain in full force ? This reads like sarcasm, but I imagine 
that Mr. Mivart has written it in all sincerity. 

It is not my business now to discuss all the questions 
raised by Mr. Mivart. I am only concerned with the ques- 
tion of infallibility ; and I see no good reason why on this 
subject Mr. Mivart should only go half way towards Pro- 
testant. He claims a right to disregard the instructions of 
his infallible guide on every subject capable of verification, 
but he implies that he is ready to accept those instructions 
if no verifications be possible. This is much the same as if 
we were to say to a traveller who had told us some marvellous 
tales, I cannot believe what you have told us about France, 
Portugal, and North America, because I have been there, 
and I know that what you have told us is a pack of lies; but 
I will believe with all my heart everything you have said 
about China and Japan, because I have never been in these 
countries, and therefore cannot contradict you. Mr. Mivart 
ought to remember that there are other sciences besides 
those in which he himself takes an interest ; such as the 
science of history, and especially of the history of dogma. 
Let him take the word of those who have studied these 
matters, that on many of the questions on which Roman 
Catholics differ from Protestants, the teaching of the Church 
of Rome is as opposed to the testimony of facts as the old 
theory which Galileo overturned. Had we not a parallel 
case to Galileo's the other day when an expert, von Dollinger, 
was excommunicated because he would not accept a conclu- 
sion which the voice of history condemns ? Whenever Mr. 
Mivart sees his way to give the human mind not a partial 
but complete freedom, the dispute with him concerning the 
infallibility of the Church is at an end. 



r I ^HE branch of the subject which I will now take up is 
JL the discussion of the different theories as to the organ 
of the Church's infallibility which have been held in the 
Roman Church. I will not dwell on what I have already said : 
that if the gift of infallibility had been believed in and ex- 
ercised from the first, it was impossible that controversy as 
to its seat should ever arise. 

The theory which I shall first consider is the Gallican, 
which places the infallibility in the Church diffusive. In this 
theory the Pope is only the leading bishop of Christendom, 
and is by no means a necessary organ in proclaiming infal- 
lible truth. Whatever doctrine the whole Church agrees in 
is infallibly true. Of course this characteristic cannot be 
predicated of any doctrine from which the Pope dissents, 
since such a dissent would deprive the doctrine of that 
universality of acceptance which the theory imposes as a 
condition ; but if a Pope declares a doctrine, it is never- 
theless not guaranteed as infallibly true if a Council dissent ; 
or even though Pope and Council declare it, if it is not 
received by the bishops throughout the world. The im- 
portant thing is, the universality of acceptance : the mode 
of promulgation is immaterial. It may be the Pope who 
proclaims it, and a Council which assents; it may be a 
Council whose decrees the Pope confirms, or it may be a 
number of small local councils which declare the Church's 
sentiments : only let the consent of the Church be evidenced 
in whatever way, and the doctrine is infallibly true. I will 
presently examine whether this is a defensible theory of 



infallibility ; but I wish first to tell you a little of the history 
of Gallicanism. 

Its most flourishing time was at the end of the seventeenth 
century, in the reign of Louis XIV. That monarch had many 
points of resemblance with Henry VIII. With regard to 
their relations with women, Louis was certainly not the 
purer of the two ; but as he did not want, like Henry, to 
marry the women on whom his caprice fixed, his frailties 
caused no irreconcilable breach with the Church. He could 
part with his mistresses in Lent, and then when he had re- 
ceived his Easter Communion take them back again. Mean- 
while his zeal for orthodoxy was extreme. He stirred up the 
slumbering authorities at Rome to fulminate against Jan- 
senism. By bribery and intimidation, by the dragonnades 
and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he worked so hard 
for the extirpation of Protestantism from France, that he was 
hailed by the enthusiastic gratitude of his bishops. * Impressed 
by such marvels,' exclaimed Bossuet in one of his orations, 
* let us raise our acclamations to the skies. Let us say to 
this second Constantine, this second Theodosius, this second 
Charlemagne, what the six hundred and thirty bishops said 
of old at the Council of Chalcedon : "You have confirmed 
the faith, you have exterminated the heretics ; it is a work 
worthy of your reign. Through your exertions heresy exists 
no longer. God alone could have wrought this miracle. O 
King of Heaven preserve our earthly monarch : this is the 
prayer of the Church this is the prayer of the bishops." 

Unfortunately Louis, who was quite as imperious as 
Henry, was as arbitrary in his dealings with the Pope as with 
his own subjects. Those of you who have read Macaulay's 
history of the circumstances which facilitated the English 
Revolution of 1688 will remember how the Pope's sympathy 
for the enterprise of William was gained by the tyrannical 
behaviour of Louis towards himself. Because the Pope 
wished to withdraw a privilege which had made his own 
capital insecure, that, namely, of allowing the French ambas- 
sador's palace to be a sanctuary for brigands and assassins, 
the King sent his troops to take possession of the Papal ter- 


ritory at Avignon. There had been an earlier controversy, 
originating in Royal claims, which the Pope repudiated as a 
novel aggression, with respect to the appointment and insti- 
tution to benefices ; and these led to a conflict between the 
King and the Pope, which lasted about a dozen years. 
Though the King had been granted by the Roman See the 
right of appointment to bishoprics, yet while the contro- 
versy lasted the Pope would not institute the King's nomi- 
nees ; so that before the dispute was over there were 
thirty-five bishops without institution. The French appealed 
to a future general Council; they threatened to dispense 
with the authority of the Pope, and to consecrate their 
bishops without it, and to stop all sending of money to 
Rome. The French bishops naturally took the side of their 
King, whose influence in his own country was overpower- 
ing ; and it was while the relations between France and 
Rome were thus strained that what are called the Four 
Gallican Propositions of 1682, drawn up by the celebrated 
Bossuet, were formulated. 

These are as follows : The first declared that the power 
possessed by Peter and his successors was in things spiritual, 
not in things temporal ; in accordance with the texts, ' My 
kingdom is not of this world ' ; * Render unto Caesar,' &c. ; 
<Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.' Conse- 
quently, kings are not, by the law of God, subject to any 
ecclesiastical power with respect to their temporal govern- 
ment, nor can their subjects be released from the duty of 
obeying them, nor absolved from their oath of allegiance. 
2. The second defined the power of the Pope in things 
spiritual, viz. as such that the decrees of the Council of Con- 
stance, approved as they are by the Holy See and the practice 
of the whole Church, remain in full force and perpetual obli- 
gation ; and it declared that these decrees must not be depre- 
ciated as insufficiently approved or as restricted to a time of 
schism. I may remind you that these decrees declared that a 
general Council, legitimately assembled, derives its authority 
immediately from Christ [and therefore not from the Pope], 
and that every person of what dignity soever, even papal, is 

S 2 


bound to obey it in what relates to the faith, or to the extir- 
pation of schism, or to the reformation of the Church in its 
head and members. If you remember the circumstances of 
the Church at the time of the Council of Constance, you will 
see that these decrees were absolutely necessary at the time. 
The object was to heal the schism, there being then three 
claimants of the Popedom, each of whom had some who 
believed him to be the real Pope. The Council deposed all 
three, and elected a new Pope; and as although the whole 
Christian world longed for an end to the schism, all the pon- 
tiffs had shown great reluctance to a voluntary resignation, 
it is evident the act of the Council could not meet with uni- 
versal recognition unless it was maintained that the Council 
had an authority higher than the papal, and was able even 
to depose a real Pope if the good of the Church required 
it. 3. The third Gallican decree declared that the exercise 
of the Apostolic authority must be regulated by the canons 
enacted by the Spirit of God and consecrated by the reve- 
rence of the whole world ; in particular that the ancient rules, 
customs, and institutions of the realm and Church of France 
must remain inviolable. 4. The fourth, that though the Pope 
has the principal power in deciding questions of faith, and 
though his decrees extend to all Churches, nevertheless his 
judgment is not irreversible until confirmed by the consent of 
the Church. Thus you see that these decrees took away alto- 
gether the Pope's temporal power over countries of which he 
was not the civil sovereign; that in spiritual things they 
limited his disciplinary power by general and local canons; 
that even in matters of faith they held that his decisions 
needed to be ratified by universal consent. 

A point has been made by a Roman Catholic controver- 
sialist who wrote in answer to Janus, that the French bishops 
were not unanimous on this occasion. But the fact is, that 
the chief opposition Bossuet encountered was from those who 
went further than himself in denying the prerogatives of 
Rome. His chief opponent, the Bishop of Tournay, held 
that the Apostolic See was liable to fall into heresy. Bossuet's 
own opinion was that, though individual Popes might be 


carried away by some temporary blast of false doctrine, the 
See would never fall permanently into misbelief, as some 
Eastern Sees had done, but that by the interposition of right- 
thinking people either the erring Pope himself or his succes- 
sors would be brought back to the true faith. In this way the 
fall of Liberius or the monothelism of Honorius presented no 
difficulty to his theory. 

Though the four Gallican propositions expressed, as I be- 
lieve, the real opinion of the French Church, yet I believe also 
that but for Court pressure Bossuet and his colleagues would 
not have engaged in the controversy with Rome which the 
act of formulating these propositions involved. And this was 
one cause of the want of permanence of Gallicanism, that so 
much of its strength consisted in the Royal support: or rather 
that the contest was not so much one between the French 
nation and a foreign power as between the King and the 
Pope, which of the two should have the filling up of livings 
and soforth. It was exactly in the same way that Henry 
VIII. gave a national character to what may also be repre- 
sented as a conflict in which only his personal interests were 
involved. It is evident that in such a conflict, if the King 
failed to persuade the nation that his interests were theirs ; 
if, for instance, his appointments to offices were not made to 
deserving men, then really religious men would be indifferent 
to a contest which they might look on as one between a self- 
seeking king and a self-seeking foreign bishop; and they 
would be on the side of the bishop if they thought his govern- 
ment on the whole likely to be guided by higher aims. On 
these grounds, much as we are inclined to sympathize with 
the anti-papalism of the Gallican bishops, I have my doubts 
whether these hangers-on of the Court of Louis XIV. really 
carried the religious mind of the nation with them. The 
doctrine, however, which they taught as to the limits of the 
papal power was no new invention of theirs; it but stated 
the tradition of the Gallican Church, which had been ex- 
pressed on many former occasions. 

Ultimately the dispute between Louis and the Pope was 
settled : the King withdrew measures he had taken for enforc- 


ing the Galilean declaration in his dominions, and the bishops 
seeking consecration were allowed to say that they were sorry 
it had been made, which did not at all imply that they 
believed it was not true. A great magazine of arguments in 
this controversy is the book which Bossuet wrote in defence 
of the Gallican declaration. It was more than once withheld 
from publication by the royal authority, lest it should impede 
the desired reconciliation with Rome, and was not actually 
published until after Bossuet's death. 

The subsequent history of Gallicanism will not take long 
to state. The fruits of the zeal of Louis in suppressing heresy 
showed themselves after his death. The Jansenists, whom it 
had been the work of his life to put down, whatever may have 
been their doctrinal errors, were some of the holiest and best 
men in his kingdom. I need not tell you how much of true 
religion was lost to France by the driving out of the Hugue- 
nots : the consequence was that Christianity, represented in 
that kingdom by its most superstitious form, revolted the 
philosophic and enlightened. The principle of blind submis- 
sion to authority was found to be too weak to maintain the 
hearty faith of the people, and a great wave of infidelity swept 
over the land. In an early stage of the revolutionary troubles 
an attempt was made to maintain a national Church in 
France, though robbed of the greater part of its worldly 
wealth. A new distribution of Sees was made : bishops were 
to be elected by their flocks, and were to seek for no insti- 
tution from the Pope, but merely notify to him the fact of 
their appointment. By a very unwise step on the part of the 
framers of this new constitution, all the clergy were required 
to swear their acceptance, and a number of the most respected 
refused. Thereupon ensued an immediate schism between 
the constitutional clergy and the non-jurors : and as in the 
progress of events the leaders of the revolutionary party 
showed more and more hostility to religion, so the respect of 
religious men refused to attach itself to the constitutional 
clergy, who were found in alliance with deists and atheists. 

When the great Napoleon discerned the political necessity 
of coming to terms with Christianity, he saw that an agree- 


ment with the Pope afforded him the only practicable means. 
Even more than Louis XIV., Napoleon sought to make him- 
self absolute over Church and State in France, and he thought 
that if he could make the Pope absolute over the French clergy 
he could direct the Pope as he pleased. The Pope proved less 
flexible than Napoleon had anticipated, but in the first stage 
of the reconciliation his help was absolutely necessary and 
was given. The terms of a new Episcopate were arranged 
into which survivors both of the constitutional clergy and 
the non-jurors were to be admitted. But however desirable 
in every way to the cause of the Church in France was this 
reconciliation, it involved a complete abandonment of Galli- 
can principles. For it was by the Pope's authority that the 
existing bishops were forced to resign and a new distribution 
of Sees effected. This course of events produced a natural 
reaction in France in favour of Ultramontanism, all the 
abominations and impieties of republican fanaticism being 
imputed, however unjustly, to the opposite system. This 
reaction found an eloquent representative in the Count Joseph 
de Maistre, whose writings exercised a prodigious influence 
in France : so that the dying away of Gallicanism in its birth- 
place and stronghold seemed to make things easy for its 
formal condemnation by Pius IX. 

We in Ireland are interested in Gallicanism because, 
before the establishment of Maynooth, Irish priests com- 
monly got their education in Continental schools where 
Gallican principles predominated, and so imported them 
into this country. At Maynooth itself French text-books 
were used. In the agitation for Emancipation a prevalent 
argument against granting it was that Roman Catholics 
could not be loyal subjects, since they would serve two 
masters, or rather indeed only one, inasmuch as they must 
obey the Pope if he forbade them to obey their Sovereign. 
In reply to this, great pains were taken by the advocates 
for Emancipation to show that Irish Roman Catholics did 
not believe in the Pope's power to release subjects from 
their allegiance, and that the Ultramontane doctrine of the 
Papal power was not recognized as any part of the doc- 


trine of their Church. The Irish Roman Catholic bishops 
were examined before a Parliamentary Committee, and gave 
evidence which was afterwards cited by the American bishop 
Kenrick, himself an Irishman, at the Vatican Council. As 
a sample of their evidence, I will give you Archbishop 
Murray's answer to the question whether the Irish bishops 
had adopted or rejected what are called the Gallican liberties. 
He said, ' These liberties have not come under their conside- 
ration as a body. The Irish Catholic bishops have therefore 
not either adopted or rejected them. They have adopted, 
however, and that on their oaths, the leading doctrines which 
these liberties contain; that is, the doctrines which reject the 
deposing power of the popes and their right to interfere 
with the temporalities of princes. That is distinctly recog- 
nized not as one of the Gallican liberties, but as a doctrine 
which the Gospel teaches.' Bishop Doyle said that if the Pope 
were to intermeddle with the temporal rights of the King, 
they would oppose him even by the exercise of their spiritual 
authority; that is, as he explained it, by preaching the Gospel 
to the people, and instructing them, in such a case, to oppose 
the Pope. Besides this repudiation of the temporal power of 
the Pope, these bishops declared their opinion that the autho- 
rity of the Pope in spiritual matters was limited by the Canons 
and by the Councils, and they swore, as they could then with 
truth, that the doctrine of the Pope's personal infallibility 
was no part of the Christian faith. Soon after they gave a 
practical proof of their independence of the Pope ; for when 
a negotiation between the Pope and the English Government 
resulted in an agreement that, as a condition of Emancipa- 
tion, the English Government should be given a veto on the 
nomination to Irish bishoprics, the Irish bishops remonstrated 
with the Pope in such strong terms that the project had to be 

I have dwelt, at a little length, on the history of Gallican- 
ism because the subject is one on which you do not find much 
information in your text-books ; but we must now consider the 
truth of the doctrine, that whatever the whole Church at any 
time agrees in may be relied on as infallibly correct. One 


thing is plain, namely, that if this is the nature of the gift of 
infallibility Christ has bestowed on His Church, the gift is 
absolutely useless for the determination of controversies. It 
is very comfortable to believe with regard to the controversies 
of former days that the winning side was right, and that 
whatever has settled down to be the general belief is certainly 
true: but what guidance does such a persuasion give us as 
long as the controversy is going on ? It is very comfortable 
for Roman Catholics now to think that the doctrine of the 
Immaculate Conception must be true because it has ceased to 
be disputed in their communion. But how could the Domini- 
cans foresee the turn things would take a century after their 
time, when they knew that the doctrine they opposed was 
altogether novel, condemned by Aquinas, and unknown to 
the early Fathers ? This theory, then, asserts that Christ has 
furnished His Church with a lantern which throws no light on 
the path in front, but only on that which has been already 

Something of the same kind may be said about the 
oft-quoted phrase of Vincentius Lirinensis, that we believe 
* Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus traditum est.' 
It is very pleasant when we can say this ; but it is obvious that 
this rule can give us no help in a controversy ; for, clearly, dis- 
pute can only arise in the case of a doctrine which is not held 
' ab omnibus,' and in such a case both parties are sure to say 
that it is their opinion which has been held ' semper.' And 
so when people go to use the rule they generally explain that 
of course * held by all ' does not mean absolutely and literally 
all without exception, but leaves out of account heretics 
and such like; so that 'all' means only 'all right-thinking 
persons,' and in this way it is in the power of each side to 
claim their own view as being held by all, that is to say, all 
right-thinking persons, for they are the only right-thinking 

We can see thus that the Gallican method of ascribing 
infallibility to the Church diffusive does not satisfy any of 
the a priori supposed proofs of the necessity of a judge of 
controversies, on the strength of which infallibility has been 


believed in. Yet unquestionably it is this aspect of the theory 
of infallibility which has most power in gaining adherents. 
It is certainly a very alluring doctrine that whatever is held 
by the majority of the Christian world must certainly be true, 
and that dissentients, if few in number, may be disregarded 
without any examination of their opinions. It is plain from 
Dr. Newman's account of his life that this was the argument 
which made a convert of him. He compared the numbers 
which were ranked on the Romish side and on the opposite, 
and he said, 'What is the English Church that she should 
set herself in opposition to so much larger a body ? ' Words 
of Augustine that he had seen quoted in controversy, 'securus 
judicat orbis terrarum,' at last so took possession of his ima- 
gination, that he was compelled to abandon further resist- 

These words, as used by Augustine, were, I believe, 
well justified, and are capable of further application. They 
were employed with reference to the claim of the Donatists 
of Africa to unchurch the rest of Christendom, because they 
continued to hold communion with men who, as the Donatists 
alleged, had been guilty of gross sin. Augustine replied that 
the whole world was, by reason of distance, incapable of 
judging of the reality of these alleged offences, but that they 
could judge safely enough of the blind temerity of those who 
without provocation separated themselves from the rest of the 
world.* Taken thus in connexion with their context, Augus- 
tine's words are only reasonable ; nor would I hesitate to 
extend them to other cases in which small bodies venture 
to unchurch and anathematize the whole Christian world : 
Baptists, for example, excluding from the pale of the visible 
Church all who have been baptized by affusion, not immer- 
sion ; Walkerites and Plymouth Brethren reducing their 

* In the notes to an Ordination Sermon published in 1864, Dr. Quarry pointed 
out that in the passage cited, St. Augustine did not lay down a general maxim, nor 
assert that the ' orbis terrarum ' must always be right in its judgment. The words 
form part of a sentence in which, after showing that foreign Churches must needs be 
ill -acquainted with the facts of the African disputes, he concludes, ' securus judicat 
orbis terrarum' that they are not good who separate themselves from the whole world ; 
where the word ' securus ' appears to have its most literal sense, without anxiety. 


Church to still narrower limits. If things are alleged to be 
necessary to salvation, or necessary to the being of a Church, 
which Christ has revealed so indistinctly that the great bulk 
of the Christian world has for centuries been unable to find 
them out, then I do say that the claim is one which condemns 
itself, and that the Christian world ' securus judicat ' that 
such pretensions are unfounded. 

But in this matter the Donatist party, not the orthodox, 
are the true antitypes of the Church of Rome. That Church, 
like these African schismatics of old, endeavours to cast out 
of the Church of Christ all who will not bind themselves in 
close alliance with her ; and the body which she would fain 
exclude is in the number of its adherents, and the extent of 
territory which they occupy, far more considerable than that 
to which Augustine gave the title ' orbis terrarum.' If there 
be weight in the maxim which has been made out of Au- 
gustine's words, we may rely on our numbers, and securely 
smile at the pretension to unchurch us. But certainly we 
repudiate Augustine's words when severed from their context, 
and converted into a rule that numbers constitute a trust- 
worthy test of truth, and that a body so large as to be able 
fairly to call itself ' orbis terrarum ' can be guilty of no error. 
How would such a rule have worked in the days when 
Athanasius was alone against the world, when the violence 
of the Arian hurricane carried the Pope Liberius away, 
when a Council twice as large as the Nicene omitted ' homo- 
ousios ' from their creed, and, in the words of Jerome, the 
whole world groaned in surprise to find itself Arian ? ' In- 
gemuit orbis terrarum et Arianum se esse miratus est.' Nay, 
how would such a rule have worked when the first preachers 
of Christianity went forth to arraign the superstitions of the 
whole world, attacking beliefs of immemorial antiquity, and 
supported by Catholic consent r for it was generally held 
that under different names all nations agreed in worshipping 
the same divinities. Even at the present day can the Chris- 
tian religion bear to have its truth submitted to the test of 
numbers, and can it permit its claim to be set aside if it can 
be proved that the number of its adherents (counting all the 


different sects into which Christianity is divided) is surpassed 
by the number of those who either are ignorant of Chris- 
tianity or reject it ? I know no Scripture warrant for assert- 
ing that the broad path along which the many go must be 
the safe one, or that, either in religious matters or in temporal, 
men can be sure of not going wrong, provided only that, like 
sheep, they stick together. 

Perhaps it may be objected that I am here leaving out of 
sight Christ's promises to His Church that He would be with 
her always, and that the gates of Hades should not prevail 
against her. I grant that Protestant controversialists have 
often contradicted these texts in the violence of their language 
against Rome. They have represented her as so wholly 
corrupt as to have lost the very being of a Church, and so 
that salvation in her is practically impossible. According to 
this theory, then, it must be owned that the gates of Hades 
did prevail against the Church for some centuries before the 
Reformation ; since for so long a time grievous corruptions 
had infected Christian teaching ; and it is sought, with very 
imperfect success, to trace through some obscure heretics a 
succession of witnesses to the truth. Overwrought descrip- 
tions of the corruptions of the Roman Church not uncom- 
monly produce a reaction in her favour. The historical 
student, in studying the history of the mediaeval Church, may 
perhaps discover that the witnesses to Protestant truth are 
comparatively few and broken, leaving great gaps in the 
tradition : possibly he may find that some whom he might 
have been disposed to claim as on his side turn out, on 
closer acquaintance, not to have been as estimable as he had 
imagined, and either to have been immoral in their lives, or 
to have denied some doctrines which he regards as of the 
essence of the Christian faith. Perhaps it may be possible 
to produce on the side of the established Church, at the same 
date, some men whose writings show their love to Christ, and 
their firm grasp of some of the fundamental truths of the 
Gospel, or whose lives prove them to have been animated by 
the sincerest Christian charity. Then it often happens that 
the student wheels round and expresses his conviction that it 


was not the heretics but the established clergy who consti- 
tuted the true Church at the time, and consequently that it is 
the latter whose teaching is to be accepted as true. 

It is astonishing how, even in the minds of Protestants > 
infallibility has come to be regarded as an essential attribute 
of the Church, so that they think that if they acknowledge 
the Church exists at all, they must acknowledge that all she 
teaches is true, just as if one might not be a very good and 
pious man, and yet hold many erroneous opinions ; or as if, 
on the other hand, a man might not get correct hold of certain 
true and important principles, and yet push them to unwar- 
rantable extremes, and draw erroneous conclusions from them. 
For my part, as a candid disputant, I have not the least 
desire to shut my eyes to anything in the Roman Church 
that is really good. All I say is, that what I own to be good 
has its roots not in those things which I stigmatize as cor- 
ruptions, but in those principles w r hich Roman Catholics hold 
in common with us, especially the great principle of love to 
our blessed Lord. When once the acknowledgment has been 
made that the fact that a man's having errors in his system of 
doctrine does not prove that he has ceased to retain the es- 
sence of the faith, the whole argument breaks down which is 
founded on God's promises to His Church. Granted that we 
have the assurance that the being of the Church will not be 
overthrown, nor her main doctrines lost, nor salvation in her 
become impossible, where is the assurance that if Christians 
attempt to determine a number .of speculative points, by no 
means essential to the faith, the majority of them will arrive 
at infallibly certain conclusions ? Nay, where is the assur- 
ance that no humanly-devised additions will crust over and 
obscure the deposit of truth which is retained ? According 
to our view of the progress of Christianity in the world, we 
may liken it to a stream first breaking forth in crystal purity 
from its native source, but as its waters are swelled by 
many a tributary, and as it flows through many a land, dis- 
coloured by taints derived from the soils through which it 
passes ; yet, even after it has lost its first purity and bright- 
ness, still able to confer many blessings on the countries 


which it fertilizes, while nevertheless they who drink of it at 
a distance from its source find it not superfluous to filter 
away its accumulated defilements, and so restore it to its 
original brightness. Now how is such a view as this affected 
by any considerations which make it reasonable to believe 
that the waters of the river will never cease to flow ? 

When we actually study Church history we see that there 
were many causes in operation having a tendency to intro- 
duce into the stream of Christian teaching the defilements of 
which I have spoken. There was the influx of heathen into 
the Church, bringing with them their own systems of phi- 
losophy, and applying them to their new faith ; there was 
the desire to conciliate prejudice by the softening of what 
in Christianity might give offence ; and there were, finally, 
principles of fallen human nature itself, ever seeking to be 
gratified, and having thus a tendency to corrupt what had 
been committed to it. No one now ventures to deny that the 
tone of Church teaching has not been uniformly the same 
from age to age : doctrines assume importance which in 
former times were little dwelt on, and in many cases what 
was at first conjecture or pious opinion passes by degrees 
into a fixed and unquestioned article of belief. This fact of 
gradual growth, not to say alteration of doctrine, which was 
long vainly denied by Roman Catholic advocates, is now 
generally admitted by them, and a power is claimed for the 
Church, not indeed of publishing revelations of totally new 
doctrine, and proposing them for articles of faith, but at least 
of developing old doctrines, and drawing from them con- 
sequences unsuspected by those who held them in former 

This theory sets aside completely the old Roman Catholic 
rule of Scripture and tradition. It gives up tradition ; and 
it must in consistency abandon as completely irrational that 
respect for the Fathers, which even still distinguishes 
uneducated Romanists from uneducated Protestants. In 
earthly science Lord Bacon pointed out that the fathers 
were the children. If we think an old man likely to be wiser 
than a young one, it is because he has had so much more 


experience, and is likely to know many things of which the 
young man is ignorant. But the world is older now than it 
ever was. To ask us to defer to the opinion of men who lived 
two centuries ago, and who consequently were ignorant of all 
that the world has learned in the last two hundred years, is 
as absurd as to ask a trained philosopher to defer to the 
opinion of a youth just commencing his studies. And if the 
theory of the development of Christian doctrine be true, the 
same rule exactly ought to hold with regard to religious 
truth ; and a Romanist cannot consistently censure a Pro- 
testant if he thinks Luther and Calvin teachers likely to be 
twelve centuries wiser than Chrysostom and Augustine. But 
if in the theory of Development the Fathers lose all claims to 
respect, it is still worse with Scripture : the Fathers may 
have been but children, but the Apostles were only infants. 
They lived when the Church had but just come into being, 
and before it had learned all that the Holy Spirit has taught 
it in the course of nineteen centuries. If so, it ought to be only 
for curiosity that we need look into books written in the very 
infancy of the Church ; and to seek for our system of Chris- 
tian doctrine in the Bible would be as absurd as to try to 
learn the differential calculus from the writings of Archimedes. 
In other words, the theory of Development, as taught by Car- 
dinal Newman, substantially abandons the claims of Chris- 
tianity to be regarded as a supernatural revelation which is 
likely to be preserved in most purity by those who lived 
nearest to the times when it was given. 

And yet there is such a thing as a real development of 
Christian doctrine. We acknowledge that all the precious 
truth of Scripture does not lie on the surface, and that con- 
tinuous study applied to the Bible, by holy men who have 
sought for the aid of God's Spirit, does elicit much that might 
have escaped a hasty reader, but which, when once pointed 
out, remains for the instruction of future generations. But 
we draw a distinction between things essential to salvation 
and things true, but not necessary. The way of salvation 
does not alter from age to age; those truths which were 
effectual for the salvation of souls in the second or third 


century are sufficient for salvation still. We hold that, 
therefore, a Church takes a step unjustifiable, and which 
must lead to schism, if she imposes new articles of faith to 
be held of necessity for salvation which were unknown to 
the Church of past times. 

Again, there is a development of Christian doctrine due 
to the increase of human philosophy and learning. It is im- 
possible to prevent these from playing their part in modifying 
our way of understanding the Bible. For instance, in the 
case which has already come before us, that of Galileo, we 
see that the progress of astronomical knowledge not only 
modified the manner in which texts of Scripture were under- 
stood which seemed to teach the immobility of the earth, but 
also made Christians understand that God, who does network 
miracles to do for men what He intended them to learn to do 
for themselves, did not mean the Bible as a supernatural 
revelation of the truths of astronomy or other sciences, but 
left the attainment of knowledge of this kind to stimulate 
and reward the exercise of men's natural powers. 

Well, when it is agreed on all hands that the Church of 
one age may be on several points wiser than the Church of a 
preceding age, the Gallican theory of infallibility at once 
breaks down. According to that theory it is consistent with 
God's promises to His Church that disputes, and conse- 
quently that uncertainty, on several important points of 
doctrine, should prevail for a considerable time ; only it is 
maintained that when once the majority of Christians have 
agreed in a conclusion about them, that conclusion must 
never afterwards be called in question. But why not, if 
the Church has in the meantime become wiser ? If God,, 
without injustice and without danger to men's souls, can 
leave many of His people for a considerable time imperfectly 
informed, and even in erroneous opinion as to certain doc- 
trines, what improbability is there that He may have left a 
whole generation imperfectly or erroneously informed on the 
same subject, and reserved the perception of the complete 
truth for their successors ? 

Before concluding this part of the subject I ought to say 


a few words as to Dr. Pusey's theory of infallibility, which 
substantially agrees with that I have just examined, which 
places it in the Church diffusive. Dr. Pusey could find no 
language too strong to condemn the principle of private 
judgment, and was heartily willing to submit his own judg- 
ment to that of the Church ; only it must be the united 
Church. If the whole Church agree in any statement of doc- 
trine that must be infallibly certain. But unhappily, for the 
last twelve centuries the Church has been rental by schism, 
and does not agree with itself in its utterances. All that was 
decreed before the great schism between East and West is 
undoubtedly true, and no individual dare re-open these ques- 
tions ; and if now the Roman, Greek, and Anglican com- 
munions (for to these Dr. Pusey limited the Church) could be 
united again, the gift of infallibility would revive ; but in the 
Church's present disunited condition the gift is dormant. I 
am not prepared to say that this is not a legitimate extension 
of the Gallican theory, for if universal consent is necessary 
to the propounding of an infallible decision, how can that 
condition be said to be satisfied when full half the company 
of baptized Christians dissent ? But Pusey's Roman Catholic 
critics have seen very clearly that his theory is a reductio ad 
dbsurdum of the proof of the existence of an infallible guide. 
Most persons would agree that if God saw it to be necessary 
to bestow on His Church the gift of infallibility for several 
hundred years, it is likely she has the gift still ; and, con- 
versely, it is easier to believe that the gift was never bestowed 
than that it was given on such conditions that the exercise 
of it has proved for more than a thousand years to be prac- 
tically impossible. One of Dr. Pusey's Roman Catholic 
critics says, very reasonably from his point of view, ' To say 
that the Church has practically ceased to be infallible for 
twelve centuries out of eighteen, is to say that the Holy 
Ghost has failed of His mission during two-thirds of the life- 
time of the Church which He was by Divine promise to lead 
into all truth.'* 

* Harper, Peace through the Truth, I. Ixi. 




I COME to-day to speak of that theory which makes 
General Councils the main organ of the Church's in- 
fallibility, a theory of historic interest, but which now is 
rapidly becoming obsolete. In fact the general arguments 
for the necessity of an infallible judge to determine contro- 
versies are not satisfied by such a judge as a Council, since 
that judge is not always at hand, there having been whole 
centuries without Councils ; while the mode of settling dis- 
putes by consulting the decisions of past Councils is liable to 
the same objections as that by consulting the Scriptures, with 
the additional objection that the former are so much more 
voluminous. In the Roman Church at present there is so 
little disposition unduly to exalt the authority of Councils, 
that the topics which come before us to-day may almost be 
said to be no part of the Roman Catholic controversy, the 
greater part of all I wish to assert being not now contro- 
verted. The dispute in the Roman Church, concerning the 
organ of the Church's Infallibility, has had the natural 
effect that those who claim that prerogative for the Pope, 
and whose ascendency was completely established at the 
Vatican Council of 1870, have been quite as anxious as we 
can be, that no rival claim for Councils shall be allowed 
to establish itself. Consequently, when I shall presently 
produce evidence that even those Councils, to whose decisions 
we cordially assent, were composed of frail and fallible men ; 
that the proceedings of some of them were conducted in a 
way that does not command our respect, and that the ulti- 
mate triumph of orthodoxy was due to other causes besides 

xvi.] LOCAL COUNCILS. 275 

the decisions of these Councils, I am trying to prove no more 
than has been asserted by eminent Roman Catholic divines, 
as, for example, by Cardinal Newman. But it would not 
be safe to take quite silent possession of territory which 
our adversaries have evacuated only in comparatively recent 
times ; and it is necessary to give some examination to the 
claims of Councils, because it was to these venerable bodies 
that the attribute of infallibility first attached itself; and in 
the early stages of the Reformation those who resisted the 
authority of the Pope declared themselves willing to submit 
to the authority of a General Council freely assembled. 

Local Councils. Local Councils took their origin almost 
inevitably, as you will easily see, from the fact that Chris- 
tian Churches in different towns regarded themselves as 
all belonging to one great society. We know that in 
apostolic times a Church would separate from her com- 
munion a member who had disgraced himself by immorality 
of a scandalous kind ; so in like manner would one be 
rejected who denied the fundamental doctrines of the Chris- 
tian faith. Now in modern times excommunication has 
ceased to be an effective penalty, on account of the want 
of harmonious action between the different bodies into which 
Christendom is divided. If a man is put out of commu- 
nion by one body, he finds quite a welcome reception in 
another. It was not so in the early Church. A Christian 
migrating from one town to another had only to take with 
him credentials from his original Church, and he was re- 
ceived on equal terms in his new abode. But one whom 
his own Church censured found the doors of other Churches 
also closed to him until those censures had been withdrawn. 
This mutual recognition of each other's acts made it neces- 
sary that one Church should be permitted to review the acts 
of another. If a bishop were arbitrary and wrong-headed, 
and excommunicated an innocent man, it were surely un- 
reasonable if no redress were possible ; and a Church could 
scarcely insist on keeping out of communion a man elsewhere 
condemned for false doctrine, without investigating his case, 
if he protested that he was perfectly orthodox, and that it 

T 2 


was the bishop who had censured him whose views were 
eccentric. My belief is, that it was the review of excom- 
munications for ratification or rejection which constituted 
the chief business of the Councils of neighbouring bishops, 
which we know to have met periodically in very early 

One of the most interesting examples I know of an at- 
tempt, by means of local Councils, to collect the opinion of the 
universal Church, was in the case of the Quartodeciman con- 
troversy at the end of the second century. You all, no doubt, 
know how the attempt of Victor of Rome to put the Asiatic 
Churches out of the communion of the Church universal was 
frustrated by the resistance of Irenseus. There is reason to- 
think that Victor did not move in this matter without pro- 
vocation. Churches distant from each other might celebrate 
Easter on different days without serious inconvenience ; but 
it would evidently be intolerable if some members of a Church 
made it a matter of conscience to refuse to conform to the 
prescribed rule of that Church, and insisted on holding their 
feast, while their brethren around were still keeping the pre- 
liminary fast. I consider that it was the schismatical attempt 
of a presbyter, Blastus, thus to force Quartodecimanism on 
the Church of Rome, which moved Victor to endeavour to 
put an end to diversity of practice. Now it is important that 
you should know that Victor did not make his attempt with- 
out first writing to the leading bishops in different parts of 
the Christian world, asking them to report to him the practice 
of their Church ;* and it was only when he had thus obtained 
evidence that the Asiatic Quartodecimanism was a mere local 
custom, and that the practice of the rest of the Christian 
world was to keep Easter on the Sunday, that he thought 
himself strong enough to call on the dissentients to conform 
or be excommunicated. 

Obviously it was only by a number of separate Councils 
that the opinion of the collective episcopate could be ascer- 
tained in heathen times. The collection into one city of such 
a representation of the Christian episcopate as was assembled 

* This appears from the letter of Polycrates (Euseb. H. E. v. 27). 


under the Christian emperors would, in heathen times, have 
been a challenge for persecution ; and even if the meeting 
had been safe, a majority of the bishops could not have borne 
the expense of the long journey. When Constantine after- 
wards gathered all the bishops to Nicsea, he had them con- 
veyed free of charge, putting all the posting resources of the 
Empire at their disposal. 

General Councils. Coming now to speak of General 
Councils, I feel it to be a disagreeable thing that the ex- 
travagant claims made by our adversaries for both Popes 
and Councils force me to dwell on the frailties and im- 
perfections of what is on the whole entitled to the respect 
and gratitude of the Church. It is a disagreeable thing 
when a man for whom you have on many grounds respect 
and liking is proposed with extravagant laudations as a 
candidate for a situation for which you believe him to be 
totally unfit. If it is impossible for you to acquiesce, the mis- 
taken zeal of his friends may then force you to give proof of 
his unfitness, by stating things over which, if you might, you 
would gladly have cast a veil. It would be a disgrace to 
Christianity if the bishops of its principal see did not include 
among them many men of piety, learning, and zeal, who had 
done much benefit to the Church. Much rather would I dwell 
on the services bishops of Rome have rendered to the Church, 
than on the frailties, immoralities, or heresies which have 
disfigured that chair ; but when Rome is made the hinge on 
which the whole Church turns the rock on which it rests 
then it is necessary to give proof that Rome has not strength 
to bear the weight which it is proposed to lay upon it. 
Similarly I should be glad to dwell altogether on the services 
rendered by Councils to the Church ; but when claims are 
made for the authority of Councils to which they have no 
pretensions, we are forced to give evidence how unfounded 
these claims are. It is no pleasure to me to bring before you 
the proofs that those who took part in the early Councils were 
men of like passions with ourselves. Many of them, I doubt 
not, were holy men ; several of them learned and wise men. 
When they met together in assemblies there was good reason 


for thinking that the blessing of God would rest on their de- 
liberations. He has promised to them that ask Him His Spirit 
to guide them into truth ; and He has made a special promise 
to prayer offered where two or three are assembled in His 
name. Experience, however, has taught us that two men, 
both of whom pray for the Spirit's guidance, will often arrive 
at opposite conclusions a fact which may be explained, first, 
by the human passions, from which even the best are not free, 
and which cannot but affect the correctness of the conclusions 
arrived at by those whose breasts they stir (for it is not won- 
derful that the Holy Spirit should not completely clear from 
error the minds of those whose hearts He does not completely 
clear from sin) ; and, secondly, by the fact that the disagree- 
ments of which I speak often relate to matters which, however 
important they may appear to the disputants, we may well be- 
lieve do not affect the essentials of the Faith. Thus, we who, 
when an assembly of ourselves meet together to consult on 
questions affecting the interests of the Church, invoke God's 
Spirit to assist our deliberations, and expect to receive a real 
answer to our prayers, need not hesitate to believe that the 
prayers made for His presence with the Fathers at the early 
Councils were not made in vain. Yet, as we do not expect 
any such assembly of our own to be free from error, so we 
hold that even the most venerable assembly of former times 
consisted of imperfect men, who were collectively as well as 
individually fallible. Nor have we any reason to suppose 
that their deliberations were unaffected by perturbations of 
human passions. 

With regard to such exhibitions of human passion, I 
may quote the apology made in the Tablet (R. C. news- 
paper) for some stormy scenes at the Vatican Council in 
1870. It said : 'The human element comes out so strongly 
in some of the Fathers that a sensitive [and unwise or 
thoughtless spectator might easily be shocked and scan- 
dalized. We ought to be in no way astonished if angry 
expressions, sharp comments, unworthy plans, and vexatious 
agitations did from time to time betray the passions to which 
human nature is subject. If this were ten times] worse thaa 


it is, it would probably be less than many of the most 
important early Councils have witnessed.' 

What is here said of the display of human passions at 
early Councils is no more than the truth ; but this does 
not at all affect the real value of the transactions of these 
bodies. This value I hold to be, not any special infal- 
libility attaching to their decisions, but the witness they 
bear to the belief of the Church of their day. At Nicaea, for 
instance, we are told that Constantine's first act was to burn 
unread the mutually accusatory libelli of the bishops. And 
when we read further, in praise of the orthodoxy of the Fathers, 
that they stopped their ears and refused to listen to the blas- 
phemy of Arius, an Arian might conclude that his master had 
got no fair hearing. But if the Nicene Fathers are on that 
account entitled to the less respect as judges, they are all the 
better witnesses. Imagine an assembly of the English clergy 
called after the publication of Bishop Colenso's book : who 
can doubt that there would be much violence and clamour ; 
that many would condemn without having read ; that many 
would be incompetent from want of learning to form an 
opinion of much value ? Yet, however unjudicial all this 
might be, it would put beyond controversy that the opinions 
condemned were novelties repudiated, and felt to be in the 
highest degree offensive, by the bulk of the English clergy, 
And so the Nicene Council has done us the inestimable ser- 
vice of showing beyond controversy that, at the beginning of 
the fourth century, the denial of our Lord's co-eternity with 
the Father was regarded as an offensive novelty. The voice 
of an overwhelming majority of a body, very well entitled to 
represent the Church of the time, gives us a compendious 
assurance of their sentiments, which would be ill replaced by 
the results of searching and weighing the sentiments of indi- 
vidual writers. The function of Councils at any time in wit- 
nessing to the opinion of the Church at that time is most 
important ; and if we value the earlier Councils more than 
the later, it is because, as we hold that the Christian truth is 
to be attained not by a new revelation, but by handing down 
faithfully the old revelation, it is far more important for us to 


know what was believed in the early Church than in the 

But, indeed, belief in the infallibility of Councils can 
hardly be held by anyone who has studied the history of 
Councils, and who knows anything of their violence and party 
spirit, and of the bad arguments on the strength of which 
many of their infallible conclusions were arrived at. Any 
proofs of these that I could lay before you could scarcely 
establish more than is acknowledged by Romanist writers. 
Cardinal Manning fairly gives up the attempt to defend the 
goodness of the arguments used at Councils, and declares 
that the Holy Spirit only guarantees the truth of the con- 
clusion arrived at, while for the arguments which led to that 
conclusion only the individual speakers are responsible. And 
he quotes to this effect a dictum of St. Francis de Sales, that 
the arguments take place only in the porch, the final decision 
in the sanctuary.* This dictum appears to me to put a severe 
strain on the faith of those who receive it. We might accept 
the pretensions of a professional accountant without dream- 
ing of examining his work. But if we heard him performing 
his additions by the process, six and four are eleven, and five 
are thirteen, and seven are twenty-four, how could our belief 
in him be restored ? Who would have the face to say, It is 
true not a single column in my preliminary calculations is 
added correctly, but you may rely implicitly that I never fail 
somehow or another to bring out the correct sum total ? 

The Nicene Council. Let me say something now about 
the history of those first four General Councils, the conclu- 
sions arrived at in which we ourselves accept. And first I 
speak about the Nicene. 

Constantine, you may remember, at first tried to silence 
the Arian disputes as about a subject too trifling to be worthy 
of serious controversy. If this surprise you, you must re- 
member that Arius was far indeed from teaching that the 
Saviour was mere man. He may almost be said not to have 
denied His divinity, since he had no scruple in applying to 
Him the name God, and in offering Him worship. He owned 

* Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, p. 116. 

xvi.] THE VIEWS OF ARIUS. 281 

Him to be ' the Word which was with God from the begin- 
ning, and which was God,' the ' Wisdom of the Father 5 (de- 
scribed in Proverbs viii.), before all creatures, and through 
whom God made the worlds. His point, however, was, that 
as any son must be posterior to his father, so the name Son, 
applied to our Lord, indicated that He was not, like the 
Father, from all eternity ; but that there was he would not 
say a time when the Son was not, for he owned Him to be 
anterior to all time but at least that there was when the Son 
was not. You can conceive then that Constantine, at the 
time not a baptized Christian, and as a politician anxious 
above everything for the peace of his Empire, should be im- 
patient of a dispute in which the Christian bishops made 
themselves angry about, as he thought, mere metaphysical 
subtleties. When, however, he could not find a hearing for 
his pacific exhortations, he devised the magnificent plan of 
assembling all the bishops of Christendom, and obtaining 
their verdict on the point in dispute. Thus peace would be 
restored by a decision which no one would be so bold as to 

I may anticipate the next branch of our subject, to point 
out how this history proves that the idea of the infallibility of 
the Bishop of Rome had not then entered any Eastern per- 
son's head. If to consult the Bishop of Rome would have 
sufficed, his opinion could have been had with little expense 
or trouble. The history of the next century or two presents a 
constant succession of councils. A heathen writer complains 
that the whole posting system of the empire was deranged 
through its being constantly occupied by bishops hastening 
to councils.* Why, at so much cost and labour, bring a num- 
ber of fallible men together, if one infallible man could have 

* I refer above to what is said by Ammianus Marcellinus in his estimate of the 
character of Constantius at the end of Book 2 1 . I quote the passage in full because 
it illustrates how educated heathen were repelled from Christianity by the spectacle 
of bitter dissensions among Christians : ' Christianam religionem absolutam et sim- 
plicem, anili superstitione confundens; in qua scrutanda perplexius quam compo- 
nenda gravius, excitavit plurima discidia, quae progressa fusius aluit concertatione 
verborum ; ut catervis antistitum jumentis publicis ultro citroque discurrentibus per 
synodos, quas appellant, dum ritum omnem ad suum trahere conantur arbitrium, rei 


settled the whole question in his closet r From the modern 
Roman point of view Dr. Newman is right in the difficulty 
he finds in seeing that the third General Council was at all 
necessary. See his Essay on Theodoret, Historical Sketches, 
ii. 347-349 : * What could be stronger than a decision at 
Rome followed by the assent to it of the Catholic world ?' 
He thinks (p. 336) that * Cyril and Theodoret would have 
been happier had they kept at home and settled the points 
in dispute, as they began them, with theological treatises, 
dispensing with hostile camps, party votings, and coercive 
acts. Their controversies, I know, were on vital subjects, 
the settlement of them was essential, and in settling them 
the Church was infallible ; but in matter of fact and after all 
they were carried on to their irreversible issue by the Pope 
and the civil power, not by the Council to which they were 
submitted.' This represents a modern judgment ; but in the 
fourth century a 'decision at Rome' was not sufficient to 
secure the * assent to it of the Catholic world.' Constantine 
had had experience in the Donatist controversy (into the 
details of which I need not enter at present) that the decision 
of the Roman bishop would not be accepted as final ; for, if 
it had failed to settle a purely Western dispute, what proba- 
bility was there that it would be owned as decisive by con- 
tending Easterns r Nor can I find any trace that at this stage 
of the dispute the Pope was consulted at all. Certainly there 
is no foundation for the assertion of a few of the less scru- 
pulous Romanists, that it was the Pope who summoned the 

vehiculariae succideret nervos.' The serious cost of a Synod to the public revenue 
is further illustrated by the fact that when Pope Liberius was anxious that the charge 
against Athanasius should be investigated, not in the West, where Constantius was 
thinking of holding a Council, but at Alexandria, where the alleged offences were 
said to have occurred ; with the view of making his plan more acceptable to the 
Emperor, he proposed that the bishops should travel to Alexandria, not at the public 
expense, but each at his own proper cost (Sozom. H.E. iv. u). It seems to me 
likely that Liberius had the idea that if any such order were made, the bishops would 
be willing to sign an acquittal of Athanasius without taking the journey. But one 
thing is clear, that if the Emperor's authority was necessary for a journey to be made 
by bishops at their own cost and by desire of the Bishop of Rome, it was not pos- 
sible in those days for the Bishop of Rome to ' gather a General Council together 
without the commandment and will of Princes.' 


Nicene Council.* The bringing it together was entirely the 
Emperor's idea. The Pope got his summons like other 
bishops, but being too old and infirm to obey in person, 
sent two of his presbyters to represent him. This acci- 
dent made a precedent which his successors followed, as 
if it were beneath the dignity of the Pope to journey to a 

Now, certainly, I have not the least desire to detract from 
the respect to which the verdict of so venerable a meeting of 
bishops is entitled. It was such a representative assembly as 
the world up to that time had never seen. It brought together 
men from the most remote parts of the world. There were 
many there who could show in their bodies signs of their suf- 
ferings for the Faith ; for it was not more than some twenty 
years since the terrible Diocletian persecution, under which 
many suffered imprisonment or tortures, who survived to tell 
at Nicaea what was the faith which they had confessed. 
And the memory of that Council deserves to be kept in 
honour for the good service it did in repelling an assault 
which struck at the very life of our religion. For I verily 
believe that Christianity would now be extinct if the Arian 
had been adopted as its authorized form. How many Arians 
are there now ? There are many now who refuse to believe 
that our Blessed Lord is * of one substance with the Father ' - r 
but I doubt if there are in all the world a score of these who 
would be willing to hold what amounts to Ditheism, acknow- 
ledging our Lord as a kind of inferior divinity, pre-existent 
before all worlds, but though thus the oldest and highest of 
creatures, still no more than a creature. 

Nor is the respect which we owe that Council liable, as in 
the case of some later Councils, to deduction on account of 
turbulence in its proceedings. Our information, indeed, is 
but scanty. No official acts have been preserved, as they 

* The earliest authority I can find for it is nearly four centuries after the event, 
namely, the sixth General Council in 680 (Mansi, Concil., xi. 661). It is to be noted, 
however, that though, according to Roman theory, the office of convoking a General 
Council properly belongs to the Pope, yet a Council otherwise convoked may be re- 
cognized as general, provided the Pope have given his consent to the convocation 
previously, or even afterwards (Bellarmine, De Conciliis et Ecclesia, i. 12). 


have in the case of later councils ; and there is not only no 
official record, but no authentic report of the proceedings. 
We do not even know with any certainty who presided 
over the deliberations. Eusebius, the historian to whom we 
owe so much of our knowledge of the early Church, was 
present, and, if he could have known how grateful after ages 
would have been for it, perhaps might have left us a detailed 
account of what went on. But he had no reason to be proud 
of his own share in the proceedings of a Council where his 
opinion was overruled. Though not an Arian himself, he 
was not in favour of the measures taken for the exclusion of 
the Arians ; and he presented to the Council for adoption the 
creed of his own Church, CaBsarea, which was one which the 
Arians could have signed. So Eusebius in the end found 
himself obliged to sign a formula drawn up in opposition to 
his judgment. The consequence was that he did not care to 
write the history of the Council, and his silence is ill sup- 
plemented by other sources. One of the best of these is 
found in the writings of Athanasius; and I should by no 
means venture to say that that Father's defence of the truth 
was untinged by human passion, or that he shows himself 
likely to have put any very charitable construction on the 
sayings of one whom he regarded as a dangerous heretic, by 
all means to be banished from the Church. 

One little passage from Athanasius* gives an interesting 
glimpse how the orthodox found phrase after phrase which 
they had devised, insufficient to exclude their adversaries. 
The Arians were overheard consulting with each other, and 
coming to the conclusion that they could agree to apply to 
the Son each successively proposed title of honour ; being 
always however ready with a text of Scripture in which the 
same title is applied to a creature. I will repeat one as a 
puzzle for you. When it was proposed to predicate eternity 
of the Son, that too they thought might be conceded, be- 
cause it is said of ourselves, * we which are alive are always ' 
'Act jap rifjieiQ of wvr. Can you tell where these words 
are to be found ?f 

* De decret. Nic. Syn. c. 21. f2 Cor. iv. II. 


Another phrase deserves a little more comment. The 
Arians would own the Son to be God of God. I have said 
that they had no objection to give Him the title God ; and as 
for the description ' of God,' they said, we are all of God, 
quoting- the text, * all things are of God.' Now there is an 
ambiguity about the English preposition ' of,' of which you 
ought to be aware. When we say ' man was made of the dust 
of the earth/ you cannot mistake the meaning. Now the Son 
was ' begotten, not made.' But when we say ' begotten o/ihe 
Father,' we are apt to understand the word 'of in quite a dif- 
ferent sense, as equivalent merely to * by.' In the fourth cen- 
tury it was inquired of what was the Son in the other sense 
of the word, a question which the English language is almost 
too coarse to state. One does not like to put it in the form, 
From what materials was the substance of the Son derived ? 
It could not be from any created substance, for it was owned 
on all hands that the Son was antecedent to all creation. 
The more thorough-going Arians answered, * since nothing 
was before the Son, the Son was of nothing ' E OUK ovrwv 
whence they were called Exucontians. The answer embodied 
in the Creed of the Council was that the Son was of the sub- 
stance of the Father; and in like manner they insisted that 
the Son was of the same substance with the Father. Leading 
Arians had already committed themselves to the rejection of 
this word ' Homoousios,' and by the adoption of it the ortho- 
dox found what they were in search of a test term which 
would have the effect of excluding Arius and his party from 
the Church. 

Whether or not it was practically wise to be satisfied 
with nothing which would not bring about this result, even 
we who live after the event find it hard to answer with cer- 
tainty. We know all the evils which resulted from the course 
of action actually adopted : what would have followed from 
the opposite course it is not so easy to say. Our own ex- 
perience tells us that theological opinions are apt so to shade 
off into one another, that it is difficult to put out of communion 
even men whose opinions seem to us clearly outside the per- 
missible limits, without wounding the sympathies of others 


whom we have no desire to disturb or offend. It was so in 
this Arian controversy. There were a number of thoroughly 
orthodox men who took deep offence at a non-scriptural word 
being made essential to communion. There was a further 
objection to this word that it had been disapproved of at the 
Council of Antioch, in 264, which condemned Paul of Samo- 
sata. Paul had argued that the Father and Son being of the 
same substance, this common substance must be looked on 
as a third thing antecedent to both Father and Son ; and the 
orthodox then were content to allow this reason against the 
use of the word to prevail. The advocates for the doctrine 
of Development appeal to this instance of a word, condemned 
at a Council of great weight, being afterwards approved at 
a still greater Council ; but it is absurd to treat as a case of 
development of doctrine what is really only an example of 
change as to the use of a word. We need no special theory 
to explain the fact that the Church, while retaining the same 
doctrine, may vary the language in which she propounds it, 
according as words, limited to no special sense by Scripture, 
come in the course of time to be differently understood. 

What I have said as to there being a number of men, 
themselves quite orthodox, who disapproved of the measures 
taken to exclude Arius, may in part account for the unex- 
pected vicissitudes of the Arian controversy. Arius had less 
than a score of bishops to take his side at Nicsea ; and we 
might imagine that after he had been condemned by an 
assembly of bishops, unprecedented in numbers and weight 
of dignity, and after the Emperor had backed with all his 
might the decrees of the Council, treating Arius as no better 
than a heathen, and condescending even to comments on his 
personal appearance it might have been expected, I say, 
that the heresy would be completely suppressed. Quite the 
contrary proved to be the case. It is difficult to imagine 
that if Alexandria had been presided over by the most lati- 
tudinarian of bishops, who should have permitted Arius to 
propagate his doctrines with the utmost impunity, they would 
ever have won so many converts, or gained such influence in 
the Christian world, as were obtained after so formal a con- 


damnation. The Church's history for the next fifty years 
presents a spectacle of convulsive struggling, with alternate 
success : Council after Council meeting ; one of about twice 
the numbers of the Nicene setting aside its decisions ; Atha- 
nasius sometimes in exile, sometimes flying for his life ; 
Arianism become the creed of the whole nation of the Goths. 
A little before the meeting of the second General Council, 
when Gregory Nazianzen came to Constantinople as a kind 
of apostle of orthodoxy, it was with difficulty he could find a 
single church in which to deliver his sermons. 

The interest of the subject has led me to say more about 
the Nicene Council than is strictly relevant to the contro- 
versy with Roman Catholics, which is this Term's work ; but 
the point I want to bring out is this : If any Council can 
claim infallible authority it is the Nicene. Rather more than 
a century after its date the Council of Chalcedon declared, 
* We will neither allow ourselves nor others to transgress by 
a syllable what our fathers at Nicaea have resolved ; remem- 
bering the command, " remove not the landmarks which thy 
fathers have placed," for it was not they that spake there, but 
the Spirit of God Himself/ A like position of honour was 
conceded, when time had made them venerable, to all the first 
four General Councils. The Emperor Justinian decreed that 
the decisions of these four Councils should have the force of 
laws, adding, * we receive the dogmas of these four Synods 
as the sacred Scriptures.' Pope Gregory the Great says that 
he venerates these four as the four Gospels, and describes 
them as the four-square stone on which the structure of faith 
rests.* Yet the hard struggle each of these Councils had to 
make, and the number of years which the struggle lasted 
before its decrees obtained general acceptance, show that 
they obtained their authority because of the truth which they 

* ' Sicut sancti Evangelii quatuor libros, sic quatuor Concilia suscipere et venerari 
me fateor .... quia in his velut in quadrate lapide, sancta fidei structura consurgit ' 
(Epist. i. 25, ad jfohan. Episc. Const.). Gregory's words, quoted in the text, have 
suggested to a much respected writer an unwarranted inference, ' Gregory evidently 
considering these four as far more important than those which followed them.' I must 
therefore note that Gregory goes on to say, ' Quintum quoque concilium pariter 
veneror.' The sixth General Council did not take place till after his death. 


declared, and it was not because of their authority that the 
decrees were recognized as true. 

Euclid is recognized as an authority because all the pro- 
positions which he enunciates are true, and are capable 
of being proved ; and it is not that he was recognized as 
infallible, and that it was thence inferred that his propositions 
were true. If anyone should hereafter put forward a theory 
that in matters of science there is always an infallible guide ; 
that at one time it was Euclid, a couple of hundred years 
ago it was Sir Isaac Newton, while in our age it was Mr. 
Darwin ; no evidence that our age knew nothing of such a 
doctrine would be needed beyond the fact that Mr. Darwin's 
theories, even supposing they afterwards come to be univer- 
sally received, did not gain their acceptance until after long 
years of controversy. The way to see whether anyone is 
recognized as a judge is to observe how parties behave after 
the judge speaks. If they go on disputing the same as before, 
it is plain enough that his authority is not acknowledged. 
And so the fact that we ourselves believe the doctrine of 
Nicaea to be true does not set aside the fact that general 
acknowledgment of its truth was not obtained until after 
hot and violent controversies, which lasted longer than the 
average lifetime of a man. 

And so it was no point of faith in the early Church to re- 
ceive these Councils as infallible. The deniers of their dogmas 
were met by tendering to them the proof, which is the proper 
evidence of them. Thus Augustine, in a well-known passage, 
reasoning with Maximinus the Arian, when the authority of 
the Council of Nicaea had been cited for the Homoousion, and 
that of Ariminum against it, says, ' I must not press the 
authority of Nicaea against you, nor you that of Ariminum 
against me ; I do not acknowledge the one, as you do not 
the other ; but let us come to ground that is common to both 
the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.'* It would thus appear 

* ' Sed nunc nee ego Nicaenum, nee tu debes Ariminense, tanquam praejudicaturus, 
proferre concilium. Nee ego hujus auctoritate, nee tu illius detineris. Scripturarum 
auctoritatibus, non quorumque propriis, sed utrisque communibus testibus, res cum 
re, causa cum causa, ratio cum ratione concertet ' (August. Cont. Maximin. Arian. 
ii. 14, vol. viii. 704). 


that it was not a point of faith to acknowledge the infalli- 
bility of Councils, as it is to acknowledge the authority of 
Scripture ; but that the decisions of the Councils were re- 
ceived because they could be proved from Scripture. 

On these grounds our own Church is commonly said to 
have received the first four Councils. Thus, Jeremy Taylor 
says (Dissuasive, Part II., Book i., i. 4), 'The Church of 
England receives the four first generals as of the highest 
regard, not that they are infallible, but that they have de- 
termined wisely and holily.' But this reception by the 
Church of England is only to be understood with reference 
to the language constantly used by her divines,* and has 
not been expressed in any authoritative document. The 
only formal acknowledgment of these Councils that I know 
of is in a statute passed in the first year of Elizabeth, in 
which the power to try for heresy is limited to what has 
been adjudged to be heresy by the authority of canonical 
Scriptures, or by some of the first four General Councils, or 
by any other General Council wherein the same was declared 
heresy by the express and plain words of the said canonical 
Scriptures, or such as shall hereafter be determined to be 
heresy by the High Court of Parliament, with the assent of 
the clergy in their convocation (Eliz., cap. i, sec. 36, A.D. 
1558). Incidentally the authority of the first four General 
Councils is appealed to in the Homily 'on Fasting'; and 
again in one of the canons passed by the Convocation of 
1640, in which Socinianism is described as being 'a com- 
plication of many ancient heresies condemned by the first 
four General Councils.' All this, however, comes very far 
short of any formal acknowledgment of the authority of 
these Councils, and only shows that the doctrine taught 
by them is accepted by us as true. We accept the doc- 
trines on their own evidence, and are no more concerned 
with any impeachment of the wisdom or piety of the Fathers 

* Several of them extend the acknowledgment to the first six Councils, e.g. Field, 
of the Church, v. 51 ; Hammond, of Heresy, iii. 7-11. In the second part of the 
Homily on ' Peril of Idolatry,' mention is made of pictures placed by Pope Con- 
stantine in St. Peter's at Rome of ' the ancient Fathers which had been at those six 
Councils which were allowed and received of all men.' 



who made the decrees, than the value we attach to Magna 
Charta would be affected by any evidence that might be pro- 
duced of turbulence, greediness, or self-seeking on the part 
of the barons who gained it. 

The Council of Constantinople. From the first General 
Council I pass to the second that of Constantinople 
which indeed may be said to have only become an Ecu- 
menical Council ex post facto. Originally it was but an 
assembly of Eastern bishops. Rome was not represented 
there. Nor does it seem for seventy years after its occur- 
rence to have enjoyed the consideration of such a Council. 
It was the respect with which its acts were quoted at 
Chalcedon, in 451, which seems first to have given it that 
character. The history of every one of the Councils tends to 
support the theory that infallibility, if it exist at all, resides 
in the Church diffusive, not in a Council. Every one of the 
Councils has had to struggle for its reception. When its 
decrees are new they have but disputed authority. When 
time has mellowed them, and when the results arrived at by 
the Council have been long accepted by the Church, then we 
first hear of the Council's infallibility. On this Council of 
Constantinople some light is thrown by a venerable Father 
who was present, and who has as good a right to the title 
saint as many who have been honoured with it, Gregory 
Nazianzen. Indeed I believe he is almost the only Father 
who is not accused of having sometimes in his writings 
fallen into doctrinal error. You will all be familiar with 
that saying of his, quoted by Browne in his Commentary on 
the Articles , ' If I must write the truth, I am disposed to 
avoid every assembly of bishops ; for of no synod have I 
seen a profitable end, but rather an addition to than a 
diminution of evils ; for the love of strife and the thirst for 
superiority are beyond the power of words to express.'* But 
it may be no harm to remind you what good cause Gregory 
had had for expressing himself so energetically. 

Constantinople had been for some time in the hands of 
Arians ; and Gregory, who had come there as a kind of 

* Epist. 130, Procopio, vol. ii. p. no: Caillau. 


missionary in the cause of orthodoxy, had by his eloquence 
and exertions raised the orthodox side from almost extinc- 
tion to pre-eminence. In return for such services Gregory 
was rewarded with the Episcopate of Constantinople, though 
not without much reluctance on his own part ; for having 
lived an ascetic and retired life, he had much distaste for the 
pomp and luxury that surrounded the bishop of the metro- 
polis, while he felt more acutely the worries incident to the 
office than a man might have done who had lived more in 
the world. You probably know that there was at this time a 
schism in the Church of Antioch, into the history of the 
origin of which I need not enter. Suffice it to say, that on 
the one hand Meletius was owned as bishop by the great 
bulk of the Christians of Antioch, and was generally accepted 
as such through the East : on ,the other hand, Paulinus had 
a comparatively small following in Antioch itself, but was 
strong in external support ; for having been recognized by 
Athanasius, he was acknowledged as bishop of Antioch in 
the West. In an earlier stage of the dispute the schism 
had consisted in a refusal of the orthodox to acknowledge a 
prelate whom they regarded as Arian. But there was now 
no difference of doctrine between the contending parties. 
Meletius had disappointed the expectations of those who 
thought he would have taught Arianism, and had proved to 
be a staunch adherent to the Nicene Creed. In character he 
was saintly, in disposition mild and conciliatory ; but over- 
tures which he made to Paulinus for a termination of the 
schism were sternly rejected, it being thought an inex- 
cusable blot that Meletius had owed his election to Arian 

It is worthy of attention that the party in this dispute 
\vhich gained the support of the Roman bishops was in the 
end not successful, and that Meletius, though not acknow- 
ledged by Rome in his lifetime, has since been honoured by 
her as a saint. The fact that Meletius presided over the 
second General Council is on this account remarkable. In 
other cases Romanist advocates have asserted, often without 
the least evidence, that the bishops who actually presided 

u 2 


did so as deputed by the bishop of Rome. In this case the 
president of a Council, which has since been accepted as 
Ecumenical, was one whom Rome did not recognize as 
bishop ; yet the Council willingly put him at their head. 

Meletius died during the sitting of the Council. The 
controversy having been merely personal, and there being 
no disagreement in doctrine, wise and moderate men on both 
sides had wished that, on the death of either, no successor 
should be elected, and that the survivor should hold the see 
without dispute. It is even said but the thing has been 
denied that some compact of the kind had been assented to 
by leading presbyters at Antioch, including him who was 
afterwards chosen as Meletius's successor. At all events, 
when the death of Meletius took place, Gregory desired that 
the schism should be healed by all recognizing Paulinus as 
bishop. He held that the Church ought not to be divided on 
a merely personal question, and that if the controversy had 
been about two angels, it would not be worth the scandal it 
caused. Gregory's reputation and influence had extended to 
the West : the celebrated Jerome sat at his feet as his dis- 
ciple. Consequently the need of conciliating the West was 
felt, and was pressed strongly by Gregory. But these coun- 
sels were unacceptable to the greater part of the assembly, 
who were jealous in maintaining their independence against 
Western attempts at domination. The sun, they said, went 
from the East to the West, and not from the West to the 
East. They saw no reason why they should yield to a small 
and insolent minority at Antioch. Gregory tells us that a 
yell, rather than a cry, broke from the assembled Episcopate. 
In verses in which, after he got home, he gave vent to his 
feelings, he says that they buzzed about him like a swarm 
of wasps ; that they cawed against him as an army of jack- 
daws.* Then on the arrival at Constantinople of a detach- 

ot 5' (Kpta^ov &\\os &\\o6fv 
AV//J.OS KoXoiiav (Is ev fffKevaff/uttvos 

% ff<j)r)Koi>i> 5iKrji> 
"'A.TTOvffiv ei/Ov Ttav Trpoff<air<av a9p6ws. 

Z>* Vitn sua, 1680. 


ment of bishops, who had other reasons for being unfriendly 
to Gregory, the assault was turned against himself. The 
bishops in question came from Egypt ; and in order to un- 
derstand the history of the Eastern Church for centuries after 
the adoption of Constantino's new capital, you must bear in 
mind the bitter jealousy that raged between Alexandria and 
Constantinople, The Bishop of Alexandria had hitherto 
ranked as the second bishop in Christendom ; and he saw 
with disgust the rivalry of the upstart Byzantium. In the 
present case the election of Gregory had foiled an attempt 
of the Alexandrian bishop to thrust into the see of Constan- 
tinople a nominee of his own. Consequently Gregory must 
be got rid of. The point was raised, that as he had been 
originally consecrated to another see, his translation to Con- 
stantinople was a violation of the ancient canons. Gregory, 
though indignant that an obsolete canon should be in- 
voked against him, professed himself much delighted to 
return to his retirement, and willing to be thrown over- 
board, like Jonah, if it would give peace to the Church. We 
need not doubt his sincerity. A man who undertakes un- 
congenial work may cheerfully continue at it as long as he 
feels he is doing it successfully, but be glad to retire when 
it is perceived that he has been a failure. Yet when Gregory 
was taken at his word, there remained on his mind, as was 
not unnatural, the greatest soreness at his treatment ; and he 
has left both in prose, and still more in the verses in which 
he was fond of giving vent to his feelings, descriptions which 
show that the one hundred and fifty venerable fathers of 
Constantinople looked much less venerable when seen close 
at hand than at a distance. 

He begins his verses by saying : * You may boldly face 
a lion ; a leopard is a gentle beast after all ; a snake may 
frighten you and yet flee from you : there is just one animal 
to be dreaded a bad bishop/ The context of the verses 
themselves, and the occasion on which they were written, 
leave no reasonable room for doubt that the bad bishops 
whom he proceeds to describe, were those who formed the 
majority of the Council, and from whom he had personally 


suffered. It seems to me likely that in the coarse, illi- 
terate men whom he describes, he had especially in view 
the Egyptian contingent ; for, as we shall presently see, 
there is abundant evidence of the rude and unchristian 
violence with which theological controversy was carried on 
in that part of the world. It has been suggested that Gregory 
had only Arian bishops in view ; but he brings no charge of 
false doctrine against the objects of his invective : if he 
counts them unfit for their office, it is because of their want 
of education, and still more on account of their low morality. 
They seem to him to have arrived at their dignity in answer 
to the call of a herald who had summoned all the gluttons, 
villains, liars, false swearers, of the empire;* 'they are "cha- 
meleons that change their colour with every stone over which 
they pass ; " " illiterate, lowborn, filled with all the pride of 
upstarts, fresh from the tables of false accountants," " peasants 
from the plough," " unwashed blacksmiths," " deserters from 
the army or navy, still stinking from the holds of the ships."f 
But it may be said the Apostles were unlearned. True ; and 
give me a real apostle and I will reverence him however 
illiterate ; but these are time-servers, waiting not on God, 
but on the rise and flow of the tide, or the straw on the wind - t 
angry lions to the small, fawning spaniels to the great ; 
flatterers of ladies ; snuffing up the smell of good dinners ; 
ever at the gates, not of the wise, but of the powerful ; unable 
to speak themselves, but having sufficient sense to stop the 

&S So/CEO) fJLOl 

KijpvKos /3o6<avTos evl fieffdroifftv aKovtiv' 
AeD/' id' offoi Kcwcnjs eTrifi-firopes, atff^fa. (puuTwv, 
Tdff-ropes, evpvTevoifTes, avatSees, ofypvoevres, 
ZcapOTrArai, ir\djKTai, <pi\oKfpro/j.ot, afipox'iTuves 
"Vevtrrai 0', vPpiffrai re 9ows eirioptcov dpovvTes, K. r. A.. 

Ad. Episc. 74. 

In the text I make use of the form in which Dean Stanley (Christian Institutions, 
p. 312) has compressed Gregory's diffuse invectives. The two poems, DtEpiscopit 
and Ad Episcopos, occupy some sixty folio pages in Caillau's edition. 

ol 8' tK SiK\\i]s, teal ff/MVVT]s irat>T](Jiepov. 
&\\ot St Kanrrjv % arparbv \e\onr6res 
&I>T\OV WfovTfs ^ rb trw/* e<rTtyti.ei>oi. 


mouths of those who can ; made wild by their elevation ; 
affecting manners not their own ; the long beard, the down- 
cast look, the head bowed, the subdued voice, the slow walk, 
the got-up devotee ; the wisdom anywhere but in the mind. 

' Councils, congresses, we greet afar off, from which (to 
use moderate terms) we have suffered many evils. I will not 
sit in one of these Councils of geese and cranes ; I fly from 
every meeting of bishops; for I never saw a good end of any 
such, nor termination, but rather an addition of evils.' 

OvSe Tt TTOV (rvvoSoKTtv op.66povo<; (.(TfTOfJi eycoyt 

XTJVCUV 7) ycpdvutv aKpira. /xapva/xeVtov. 

^Ev^' I/HS, v8a /j.oOo's re /cat aio^ea KpvTrra. TrdpoiOev 

Ets Iva ^wpov dycipo/xcva. 

Adv. f ah. Episc. 92. 

But I find that I had better reserve to another Lecture 
the rest of what I have to say about Councils. 




IF I had contented myself, as logically I might, with one 
proof of the comparative novelty of the doctrine of the 
Infallibility of General Councils, I need not have gone lower 
down than the history of the first Ecumenical Council, that 
of Nicsea. According to modern ideas, its decision ought to 
have put an end to all controversy. We all approve of that 
decision as correct. It was arrived at by an overwhelming 
majority of a fairly representative assembly of the bishops of 
Christendom. It expressed the sentiments of the Bishop of 
Rome, and was endorsed by the civil authority. Yet to the 
eye of a Romanist the history of the Church for the rest of 
the fourth century presents a scene of awful confusion ; 
Council after Council meeting to try to settle the already 
settled question, throwing the Nicene Creed overboard, and 
attempting to improve on it. What ailed them, not to 
acquiesce in conclusions adopted by infallible authority ? 
Simply that, at the time, there was no suspicion of its infalli- 
bility. There was no idea then but that what one Council 
had done another Council might improve on. 

Cardinal Newman [Historical Sketches, iii. 352) describes 
the fourth- century Councils, to which I have just referred, as 
' a scandal to the Christian name ;' and he goes on to say : 
' The Councils of the next century, even such as were ortho- 
dox, took their tone and temper from those which had gone 
before them ; and even those which were Ecumenical have 
nothing to boast of as regards the mass of the Fathers, 


taken individually, who composed them.' It is of these 
Ecumenical Councils of the fifth century I come now to speak. 

We must be on our guard against the temptation to which 
party feeling exposes men, whether in religious or political 
disputes, namely, reluctance to express disapprobation of 
any men or any means that have helped to bring about the 
triumph of the right side. I feel very strongly that the 
side which triumphed, both at the third and at the fourth 
Ecumenical Council, was the right side. We of the present 
day are not concerned with the merely personal question, 
whether Nestorius was misrepresented ; or whether he only 
expressed himself incautiously, without himself holding 
what we call Nestorianism. But we can heartily join in 
condemning that Nestorianism as being practically equi- 
valent to a denial of our Lord's Divinity. Breaking up our 
Lord's Personality into two is a scheme which enables a 
man to use the loftiest language concerning the Divinity 
which dwelt in Jesus, while at the same time holding Jesus 
Himself to be a man imperfect morally as well as in- 
tellectually. If we hold that the Deity did but dwell in 
Jesus without being truly and properly one with him, this is 
to ascribe to him no exclusive prerogative. Might not the 
Deity thus dwell with many men ? You will find that one 
would be able to affirm, in the same words, concerning the 
founder of Buddhism, everything that, according to the Nes- 
torian hypothesis, you can affirm as to the Divinity of the 
Founder of the Christian religion. And if I have no sym- 
pathy with Nestorianism, neither have I any with the heresy 
condemned at the fourth General Council, which practically 
is equivalent to a denial that our Saviour was truly and 
properly man. But without having sympathy with either 
heresy, we are still free to inquire whether we can approve of 
the measures taken to suppress it, and whether these measures 
were, in point of fact, successful. 

Now, when we come down from the second General 
Council to the third and fourth, our documentary means of 
knowledge increase, but not so our respect for Councils. 
More and more I find myself forced to say, that if I believe 


the conclusions at which these meetings arrived to be true, 
it is not because the Councils have affirmed them ; and, as far 
as I can judge, it is not on that account that the Universal 
Church has believed them either. The more I study these 
Nestorian and Eutychian disputes, the less sympathy can I 
feel with either party to the struggle. On both sides the 
virulence of party rancour seems utterly to have killed Chris- 
tian charity. The problem on which the disputants were 
engaged namely, to explain how the divine and human 
natures could be united in one person, and to state the 
conditions of such a union is as difficult as any with which 
the human intellect has ever grappled, and is therefore one 
on which error surely might deserve indulgent consideration. 
Yet both parties regarded those who differed from themselves 
and that possibly only in their use of language as wilful 
deniers of the truth, enemies of Christ, haters of God, men 
for whom no punishment could be too severe in this world 
and in the next. And the reputation of Christianity has 
suffered, as secular historians have pointed out that these 
furious struggles took place at a time when the Roman 
Empire was threatened with dissolution under the inroads 
of barbaric tribes, who could not be successfully resisted 
if Christians would not give over fighting with one another. 

Cyril of Alexandria, who presided over the third Council 
that of Ephesus is perhaps, of all those who have been 
honoured with the title of saint, the one whose character 
least commands our affection. In the fourth century the title 
ayiog, applied to an orthodox bishop, meant, perhaps, little 
more than the title 'reverend ' applied to a clergyman of the 
present day. But of the qualities which go to make up our 
modern idea of saintliness, the only one to which Cyril can 
lay claim is zeal for orthodoxy. Of the non-theological 
virtues of meekness, kindness, equity, obedience to law, we 
find in him no trace. There was no country where reli- 
gious controversies were carried on with such violence as 
in Egypt. Cyril had been brought up in a bad school ; 
and he handed down to his successor the traditions of that 
school with extensive evil developments. His whole career 


was marked by violence and bloodshed. r He signalized the 
commencement of his episcopate by an assault on the Nova- 
tians, whose churches he shut up, seizing their sacred vessels, 
and depriving their bishop of all his property.* He followed 
this up by an attack on the Jews not without provocation on 
their part. A leading member of his congregation had been 
punished by the magistrate on a charge brought against 
him by Jews. Cyril sent for the chief rabbis, and severely 
threatened them if such molestations were repeated. Riots 
followed; and tidings were brought to Cyril one morning 
that during the night a concerted attack had been made by 
Jews upon Christians, in which several of the latter had lost 
their lives. Cyril forthwith took vengeance into his own 
hands, deciding that there was not room for Jews and 
Christians in the same city. He put himself at the head of 
an immense mob, which took possession of the synagogues, 
plundered the goods of the Jews, and turned them out of the 
city. These proceedings naturally brought him into collision 
with the civil authorities, and the relations between the 
bishop and the prefect became extremely strained. Five 
hundred Nitrian monks poured down to Alexandria to give 
substantial support to the cause of the affronted patriarch. 
They surrounded the prefect's chariot, drove his guards 
away with showers of stones, and not content with abusive 
language, one of them, Ammonius by name, struck him with 
a stone, and covered his face with blood. But the people 
rose in defence of their magistrate, overpowered the monks, 
and seizing Ammonius, carried him off to punishment, which, 
according to the barbarous usage of the time, was so severe 
that he died under it. Then Cyril set the evil example of 
canonizing criminals as martyrs. Though there is no reason 
to suppose that the assault on the prefect was due to direct 
instigation of his, he made himself an accessory to it after 
the fact by giving Ammonius a public funeral, bestowing on 
him the title * Admirable;' and would have even enrolled 
him for permanent commemoration as a martyr had not the 

* Socrates, H. E. vii., 7, 13-15. 


disapprobation of moderate men warned him to drop the 

But a. worse tragedy followed. The belief in Church 
circles was that the governor would have been on better terms 
with the bishop if he had not been too intimate with heathens. 
Prominent among his heathen friends was the celebrated 
Hypatia, who, in a licentious age, when public life was less 
open to women than now, exercised the functions of a lecturer 
in philosophy with such dignified modesty as to command 
universal respect. One Peter, who held the office of reader in 
the principal church, collected a band of zealots like-minded 
with himself, who watched for Hypatia returning from her 
school, tore her from her chariot, dragged her into a church, and 
there murdered her with every circumstance of brutal atrocity. 
It is not to be supposed that this deed had Cyril's sanction ; 
but if a party leader tolerates and profits by the excesses of 
violent followers up to a certain point, he cannot escape 
responsibility if they proceed beyond the point where he 
would have preferred them to stop. If the maxim * noscilur e 
sociis' is ever to have applicability, a Christian teacher must 
be judged of by the spirit manifested by those who have been 
the most zealous hearers of his instructions. 

For excesses of zeal in his warfare against heretics, or 
Jews, or heathen, Cyril has not wanted apologistsf who 
willingly believe that the case against him has been coloured 
by witnesses too ready to sympathize with enemies of the 
Church. But there is one chapter in his history with regard 
to which his line of conduct now finds no defender. I refer 
to his treatment of a greater saint than himself, St. Chrysos- 
tom. I have already said that in reading the Church history 
of the centuries following the erection of Constantinople into 

* I have no wish to exaggerate the case against Cyril, and I will therefore 
suggest an excuse for his conduct, which I have not seen put forward by any of 
his apologists. My idea is that the prefect, suspecting that the attack on him had 
been organized by a higher person than those who took part in it, endeavoured, 
according to the legal usage of the time, to extract the truth from his prisoner by 
torture, and that Cyril's admiration and gratitude were moved by the constancy 
with which Ammonius endured, even to death, without uttering a criminatory word. 

t One of the latest is Kopallik, Cyrillus -von Alexandria, 1881. 


a capital, we must constantly bear in mind the jealousy felt 
at Alexandria at the encroachments on the dignity of their 
ancient see by this upstart rival. I have told how Gregory 
Nazianzen was compelled, by Egyptian opposition, to resign 
his see. St. Chrysostom's election to the bishopric of 
Constantinople disappointed an attempt of the Alexandrian 
patriarch, Theophilus, to place in Constantinople a nominee 
of his own. From that time Chrysostom had in Theophilus a 
bitter enemy, through whose exertions he suffered deposition 
and exile, accompanied with treatment which hastened his 
death. Cyril, the nephew of Theophilus, was his aider and 
abettor in the warfare against Chrysostom ; and he continued 
his hostility when, on his uncle's death, he succeeded to the 
see. The death of Chrysostom did not soften his feelings ; 
and a few years afterwards, when entreated to allow Chrysos- 
tom's name to be placed on the diptychs, he replied that this 
would be as great an affront to the orthodox bishops on the 
list as it would be to the Apostles if the traitor Judas were 
reckoned in their number. It was not until ten years after 
Chrysostom's death that he reluctantly gave way. Now 
what, in Roman Catholic eyes, makes this conduct inexcus- 
able is that Cyril's obstinacy placed him in opposition, not 
only to Chrysostom, but to the Bishop of Rome, out of whose 
communion the Egyptians accordingly remained for twelve 

Accordingly, Cardinal Newman here gives Cyril up. 
* Cyril, I know, is a saint ; but it does not follow that he was 
a saint in the year 412.' 'Among the greatest saints are 
those who, in early life, were committed to very unsaintly 
doings.' ' We may hold Cyril to be a great servant of God 
without considering ourselves obliged to defend certain pas- 
sages of his ecclesiastical career. It does not answer to call 
whity-brown white. His conduct out of his own territory, as 
well as in it, is often very much in keeping with the ways of 
the uncle who preceded him in his see, and his archdeacon 
who succeeded him in it.' I hope I am not ungrateful for so 
much candour if I say that if it does not answer to call 


whity-brown white, neither does it answer to call black 
whity-brown. Dr. Newman himself asks the question, 
'Is Cyril a saint? How can he be a saint if what has 
been said above is matter of historical truth?' His chief 
reason for giving a favourable answer is one that has not 
much weight with us. ' Catholics must believe that Provi- 
dence would have interposed to prevent his receiving the 
honours of a saint, in East and West, unless he really was 
deserving of them.' * It is natural to think that Cyril would 
not have been divinely ordained for so prominent an office in 
the establishment of dogmatic truth unless there were in him 
moral endowments which the surface of history does not 
reveal to us.' And he suggests, that as we hear very little of 
Cyril during the last few years of his life, it may charitably 
be believed that he had repented of his early violence ; and he 
thinks that as * he had faith, firmness, intrepidity, fortitude, 
endurance, these virtues, together with contrition for his 
failings, were efficacious in blotting out their guilt, and 
saving him from their penal consequences.' 

Now I am sure you will understand that if I pronounce a 
man to be undeserving of the title of Saint, I do not mean to 
deny that he may have repented of his sins, and have entered 
the kingdom of Heaven. In giving honours to historical 
characters we can only be guided by those ' moral endowments 
which the surface of history does reveal;' and I count it to 
involve a degradingly low estimate of the Christian character 
if we hold up as a model of saintly perfection one in whom 
history only enables us to discover the excellencies and fail- 
ings of an able and successful, but violent and unscrupulous, 
party leader. If Cyril changed his character towards the end 
of his life, his contemporaries do not seem to have been aware 
of it. Here is the language of one of them on hearing the 
news of his death : * At last the reproach of Israel is taken 
away. He is gone to vex the inhabitants of the world below 
with his endless dogmatism. Let everyone throw a stone on 
his grave, lest perchance he may make even hell too hot to 
hold him, and return to earth.' ' The East and Egypt are 


henceforth united : envy is dead, and heresy is buried with 

I have spoken at such length about the character of Cyril, 
because in truth Cyril was the third General Council. You 
will not expect me to enter into the history of the Nestorian 
controversy, or to discuss whether Nestorius really deserved 
condemnation, or whether by mutual explanations he might 
not have been reconciled to the Church without a schism. 
He is a man for whom I have no great sympathy ; but in 
those days the views of the bishop of Constantinople were 
not likely to meet with indulgent criticism from the bishop 
of Alexandria. If I were to say that Cyril at Ephesus was 
' seeking to revenge a private quarrel rather than to promote 
the interests of Jesus Christ,' I should say no more than was 
said by good and impartial men at the time.f * Cyril,' says 
Newman, ' came to Ephesus not to argue but to pronounce 
an anathema, and to get over the necessary process with as 
much despatch as possible.' * He had not much tenderness 
for the scruples of literary men, for the rights of Councils, or 
for episcopal minorities ' (pp. 349, 350). 

* The letter from which these passages are taken (Theodoret, Ep. 180) was read 
as Theodoret's at the fifth General Council (fifth Session), and there accepted as his. 
But on questions of this kind Councils are not infallible ; and the letter contains a 
note of spuriousness in purporting to be addressed to John, bishop of Antioch, who 
died before Cyril. I own that the suggestion that for ' John ' we ought to read 
' Domnus ' does not suffice to remove suspicion from my mind. But it is solely for 
the reason just stated that I feel no confidence in accepting the letter as Theodoret's. 
Newman's opinion that it is incredible Theodoret could have written so 'atrocious' a 
letter is one which it is amazing should be held by anyone familiar with the contro- 
versial amenities of the time. Our modern urbanity is willing to bury party animosi- 
ties in the grave ; but in the fifth century Swift's translation would be thought the 
only proper one of the maxim ' De mortuis nil nisi bonum ' 'when scoundrels die 
let all bemoan 'cm.' Certainly the man who half a dozen years after Chrysostom's 
death spoke of him as Judas Iscariot had no right to expect to be politely treated 
after his own death by one whom he had relentlessly persecuted. 

t St. Isidore of Pelusium found himself constrained to write to Cyril in terms of 
strong remonstrance (see Epp. I., 310, 323, 324, 370). He says that if he. were, as Cyril 
called him, his father, he feared the penalty incurred by Eli for not rebuking his children. 
If he were, as he himself deemed, Cyril's son, he feared the example of Jonathan, 
who shared his father's fate because he had not prevented his consultation of the 
Witch of Endor. He begged him therefore not, in avenging a private quarrel, to 
bring in perpetual dissension into the Church. Affection, no doubt, does not see 


In short, nothing could have been more violent and unfair 
than the proceedings at Ephesus. Nestorius may have de- 
served condemnation ; but it is certain that he got no fair 
trial, and that the proceedings against him would have been 
pronounced null and void by any English Court of Appeal. 
In fact the Council was opened in the teeth of a protest made 
by sixty-eight bishops, because the bishop of Antioch and 
the bishops of the East were known to be within three days' 
march of Ephesus. But because these bishops were known 
to be likely to vote the wrong way, they were not waited for. 
The Council did its work in one summer's day; deposed 
Nestorius in his absence, and acquainted him with the fact 
in a letter addressed to Nestorius 'the new Judas.' In a 
few days the bishop of Antioch arrived, and then the other 
party held what they professed to be the real Council, and 
deposed Cyril. 

There has been a question by what kind of majority must 
the acts of a Council be carried in order to entitle them to 
bind the Church : a simple majority ? or two-thirds ? or 
more r and ought we to count heads or to take the votes by 
nations or in some other way ? Obviously, if we count heads, 
the provinces close to the place at which the Council is held 
are likely to have a disproportionately large share of the 
representation. At the Council of Ephesus great complaints 
were made by the Nestorian party that Cyril had taken an 
unfair advantage over them ; that the Emperor had directed 
only a certain number of bishops to be brought from each 
province, and that he had brought a great many more from 
Egypt than he had a right to bring. Ephesus, too, which 
was on Cyril's side, was, as was natural, largely over-repre- 

clearly, but hatred cannot see at all. Cyril was much blamed by many at Ephesus 
for pursuing his private enmity as he did. They said, He is the nephew of Theo- 
philus, and exhibits the same character, persecuting Nestorius as he did Chrysostom, 
though no doubt there was a good deal of difference between the two men. 
irpoffirddeia ^fv OVK o^vSopKe?, av-rnrddfia 8 o\cas oi>x 6p& Ho\\o\ yap ere K(afj.(f>Sovffi 
^a>v avvfi\fyfJ.fveav fls^E^fffov, &>s oiKflav ajj.vv6fj.fvov t'xQpa.v, a\\' ov ra 'lr)(fov Xptarov 
6p6o$6<as ^ijTOvvra. 'A.Sf\(piSovs icrn, <paffl, @eo(}>i\ov, fUfio6fUfOS eKfivov ryv yv<a/j.iiv. 
"dffirfp ykp ixflvos fjiaviav ffa(pr) KareffKfSafff TOV 6eo<popov KUI 6to<pi\ovs 'Icodwov, oSrut KavxfiffaffQai Kal ovros, fl Kal iro\v rS>v icpivo/jieviav fffrl rb Sidtyopor. 


sented. In modern times these difficulties have been avoided 
by requiring that the decrees of Councils shall be practically 
unanimous. Pius IV. boasted of the unity obtained at Trent 
as plainly ' the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes.' 
The unity, to be sure, was brought about by having the ques- 
tions submitted to a preliminary discussion in committees 
or congregations ; those who there found themselves in a 
minority keeping their opposition silent when the question 
was submitted formally to the Council itself. And so was it 
done at the Vatican Council the other day. Unanimity was 
thought so essential to the validity of a Council's acts that 
the anti-infallibilist bishops had not courage for such a breach 
of discipline or decorum as to say ' non placet ' when the 
matter came formally to a vote, and with one or two excep- 
tions all ran away from Rome before the day of the final 

Very different was the state of things at Ephesus. To 
quote Dr. Newman, ' At Ephesus the question in dispute 
was settled and defined before certain constituent portions of 
the episcopal body had made their appearance, and this with 
a protest of sixty-eight of the bishops then present, against 
eighty-two. When the remaining forty-three arrived, these 
did more than protest against the definition that had been 
carried. They actually anathematized the Fathers who had 
carried it, whose number seems to have stood altogether at 
one hundred and twenty-four against one hundred and eleven, 
and in this state of disunion the Council ended. How then 
was its definition valid ? By after events, which I suppose 
must be considered complements and integral portions of 
the Council.'* 

If this be so, the infallibility clearly rested not with the 
Council, but with the after events, which reviewed and chose 
between its contradictory utterances. But what were the 
after events thus vaguely described ? Bribery and intimida- 
tion at the imperial Court. The scene was soon transferred 
from Ephesus to Constantinople ; and if the deposition of 
Nestorius had more effect in the end than the deposition of 

* Letter to Duke of Norfolk, p. too. 


Cyril by the rival section of the Council, the result was due 
not to the venerable authority of the Council, but to the effect 
produced by the turbulent monks of Constantinople on the 
nerves of the emperor, who was one of the weakest of men, 
and to tvXoyiui, or, in plain English, bribes judiciously ad- 
ministered to his favourites. At an early stage of the 
controversy Nestorius complained that Cyril was shooting 
against him with golden arrows ; and when the final decision 
was arrived at, the clergy of Alexandria mourned at the 
impoverishment of their Church, which, in addition to sending 
large sums to Constantinople, had gone in debt 1500 pounds 
of gold besides.* 

If it was not a Council which settled the Nestorian contro- 
versy, still less was the Eutychian so settled. The Gallicans 
were quite right in saying that the decisions of a Council only 
prevail in case they are accepted by the Church. The Euty- 
chian question was, as you know, in the first instance decided 
the wrong way by a Council, the second of Ephesus. It is 
worthy of remark that at both the Councils of Ephesus the 
bishop of Alexandria, as the greatest bishop present, pre- 
sided, the Roman legates having the second place. Romanist 

* There has been preserved a letter from the archdeacon of Alexandria to the 
bishop appointed to succeed Nestorius at Constantinople, complaining of the large 
sums that had been already sent from Alexandria, and entreating the bishop's 
influence to obtain some adequate result from this expenditure : ' Scriptum est a 
Domino meo vestro fratre et Dominae ancillae Dei reverentissimae Pulcheriae et 
praeposito Paulo et Romano cubiculario et Dominae Marcellae cubiculariae et 
Dominae Droseriae. Et directae sunt benedictiones dignae eis. Et ei qui contra 
ecclesiam est Chrysoreti praeposito magnificentissimus Aristolaus paratus est scribere 
de nonnullis quae angelus tuas debeat impetrare. Et ipsi vero dignae translalae 
sunt eulogiae. Scripsit autem Dominus meus sanctissimus frater vester et Domino 
scholastico et magnificentissimo Arthebae ut ipsi conveniant et persuadeant Chry- 
soreti tandem desistere ab oppugnatione ecclesiae. Et ipsis vero benedictiones 
dignae directae sunt . . . Subjectus autem brevis ostendit quibus hinc directae 
sint eulogiae ut et ipse noveris quantum pro tua sanctitate laboret Alexandrina 
ecclesia quae tanta praestet his qui illic sunt. Clerici enim qui hie sunt contris- 
tantur quod ecclesia Alexandrina nudata sit hujus causa turbelae, et debet praeter 
ilia quae hinc transmissa sunt Ammonio Comiti auri libras mille quingentas. Et 
nunc ei denuo scriptum est ut praestet. Sed de tua ecclesia praesta avaritiae 
quorum nosti ne Alexandrinam ecclesiam contristent ' (Synodicon 203, ap. Mansi, 
Concilia, v. 988). 


writers reconcile this with modern theories as to Roman 
supremacy by the gratuitous assertion that Cyril presided 
at the first Council as the representative of the bishop of 
Rome ; * but this evasion is not open to them in the case of 
the second Council, the bishops of Rome and Alexandria 
being on opposite sides; and it is plain that the theory had not 
yet been heard of in the East which would ascribe the head- 
ship of all Councils to the bishop of Rome, present or absent. 
I have already remarked to you on the difference between 
the theological schools of Alexandria and of Antioch, the 
tendencies of the one being in the direction of mysticism, 
those of the other in that of rationalism ; the one accentuating 
more strongly our Lord's Divinity, the other His humanity. 
The confusion that reigned in the Eastern Church for the 
next two centuries arose from the fact that Alexandria, which 
triumphed at the third General Council, was defeated at the 
fourth. Reasons of policy had always inclined Rome to 
support Alexandria against Constantinople ; but at this time 
it chanced, through a rare contingency, that the see of 
Rome was held by a theologian capable of forming an 
opinion of his own on a doctrinal question. Pope Leo's 
decision turned the scale against Alexandria ; and the result 
was that many of the same men who had been on the win- 
ning and orthodox side at the first of these two Councils 
unexpectedly found themselves on the heretical side at the 
other ; and it was this reverse of fortune more than anything 
else which prevented Chalcedon from giving peace to the 
Eastern Church, there being always hope that a similar 
change of parts might take place again. You can guess 
what confusion there would be in the Roman Church were 
the Vatican Council now reassembled, and if the bishops 
who had spoken against infallibility, and only yielded at the 
last moment on the former occasion, now played the leading 
part, and if Cardinal Manning, and the other leading men 
who had triumphed before, were now cast out as heretics. 

* The bishop of Rome duly sent legates, but Cyril was in too great a hurry to 
wait for them, and Nestorius was deposed before their arrival. 



However, the Alexandrians came to the second Council of 
Ephesus prepared to carry all before them and so, in fact, 
they did. It is notorious with what good reason this Council 
was called the * Synod of robbers ; ' but the method of decid- 
ing theological questions by physical force, though highly 
developed on that occasion, did not originate then nor did it 
come to an end then. In theological violence Alexandria had 
a bad pre-eminence. What a potentate the bishop there was 
may be judged from a scene that took place later at Chalcedon. 
The proceedings there had been very unfavourable to Egypt, 
the bishop of Alexandria having been deposed ; and no doubt 
it was painful to Egyptian bishops to subscribe the formula 
adopted by the Council ; but the ground alleged for their 
refusal, and which the Council at length accepted as valid, 
was, that it would be as much as their lives were worth when 
they got home if they took any step unsanctioned by the 
bishop of Alexandria. They threw themselves on the ground, 
imploring the pity of the members of the Council : ' Have 
mercy on us ; pity our grey hairs ; take our sees if you will, 
but spare our lives ; don't send us home to certain death ; if 
we must die let us die here/ The bishop of Alexandria had 
a sturdy militia zealous to execute his orders. I have told of 
the descent of monks from the Nitrian monasteries to avenge 
his slighted authority ; but he had defenders closer at hand in 
the Parabolam, a charitable corporation whose duties were 
concerned with attendance on the sick, and with the burial of 
the dead, and who were appointed by the bishop and were 
eager to execute his orders. Possibly the nature of their 
duties made them heedless of life; but they appear to have 
been a most violent and turbulent set of men. To their 
charge has been laid the murder of Hypatia ; at all events, 
we read immediately after that event of complaints made to 
the emperor, in consequence of which the appointment and 
control of these men was transferred from the bishop to the 
civil authorities, though things soon reverted to the old 

At both Councils of Ephesus the ships that brought the 
prelates from Alexandria brought also a strong detachment 


of the Bishop's bodyguard. At the first Council the sailors of 
the Egyptian ships were reinforced by a body of stout peasants, 
whom Cyril's ally, Meranon of Ephesus, brought up from his 
farms ; and bishops of Nestorian leanings had to complain 
of the intimidation to which they were subjected, not only out 
of doors but in their houses. At the second Council, besides the 
parabolani, there came from the borders of Syria and Persia 
a horde of savage monks, well exercised in putting down 
Nestorianism by physical force, whose irruption brought the 
proceedings of the Council to an end in a scene of awful 
confusion. Even when only the members of the Council were 
present, the bishops cannot be said to have voted with perfect 
freedom, when the assertion of two natures in Christ was re- 
ceived with cries of, ' away with him ; burn him alive ; cut 
him in two ; as he has divided so let him be divided.' In 
such a temper of the meeting the acquittal of Eutyches was 
obtained with tolerable unanimity ; and if the president, 
Dioscorus, had been content to stop there, this synod might 
have passed as not more disorderly than some others. But 
when he proceeded to move the deposition of the bishop of 
Constantinople cries of remonstrance were heard. The chief 
Roman legate expressed dissent in Latin; and his Kovrpa- 
SiKtrovp has been duly recorded in the proceedings of the 
Council. Some leading bishops threw themselves at the feet 
of the throne of Dioscorus, and embracing his knees implored 
him to be merciful. Then he cried out that violence was 
being used towards him, and called for the assistance of the 
civil power. The doors of the Church were opened ; soldiers, 
monks, parabolani, rushed in, and a scene of wild confusion 
ensued. The bishop of Constantinople was knocked down 
and trampled on ; and the only doubtful point is whether it 
was not Dioscorus himself who struck the first blow, and who 
kicked him after he was down. The evidence to that effect 
might perhaps be enough to produce conviction, if it were not 
outweighed by the fact that afterwards, at Chalcedon, when no 
misdeeds of Dioscorus were likely to be passed over in silence, 
this one was not mentioned. But certain it is that the bishop 
of Constantinople, within three days, died of the ill-usage he 


had received. Meanwhile the other bishops of the minority 
who tried to escape found the doors of the church again 
locked. Some tried to hide under the benches ; one fled into 
the sacristy. They were pulled out and told that they must 
not go till they had subscribed the decision of the Council. 
But there had not been time to write the proceedings out ; 
and if they were once allowed to go away, it was not likely 
that their signatures could be had. So before they were 
let go they were made to subscribe their names to blank 
sheets, to be filled up afterwards. 

An amusing scene took place when these bishops after- 
wards, at Chalcedon, pleaded that their signatures had been 
obtained by constraint. Constraint ! cried the Eutychians. 
What a plea for bishops to put forward! Is the spirit of 
the martyrs so utterly extinct among you ? Or are we to sup- 
pose that the martyrs might have done what their persecutors 
demanded, and afterwards pleaded that they had acted 
under constraint ? Nay, was the reply : if we had fallen 
into the hands of heathen we should have borne anything 
they could inflict rather than yield. But the case was different 
when we were ordered by a bishop. A bishop is a father ; 
and a son must obey a father, even though he himself dis- 
approve of the command. 

That this meeting, which Leo of Rome justly stigmatized 
as ' Latrocinium,' is not venerated in the East as one of the 
great Councils of the Church, is mainly due to the death of 
the emperor and a change of politics at the Court of Con- 
stantinople ; and the violence and unfairness rather exceeded 
in degree than differed in kind from what was exhibited in 
other Councils more fortunate in their repute. As I have 
mentioned the acclamations of the bishops at this Council, I 
ought to tell you that there is a difference between the inter- 
ruptions permitted by the parliamentary decorum of our time 
and what was considered permissible in the early Roman 
Empire. In our time, interruptions at a public meeting are 
usually inarticulate, clapping of hands, stamping of feet, and 
so forth. Parliamentary order does not permit a speaker, not 
in possession of the chair, to go beyond a cry of ' oh, oh,' 


* hear, hear,' ' order, order,' or ' question ; ' but in the Roman 
Senate it was common for the interrupter to shout out a short 
sentence, which was duly taken down by the reporters, and 
regularly entered on the Acts of the Senate. Sometimes a cry 
raised in this manner was taken up by the whole assembly, 
which repeated it perhaps several times, and, I believe, in a 
kind of chant ; and then the reporters took carefully down 
how many times the cry was repeated. If time permitted, I 
could give you many curious illustrations of this practice,* 
which certainly did not tend to the orderliness of proceedings ; 
but the acclamations of the assembly came to be looked on as 
an essential way of expressing the assent of the whole meeting 
to what was done. In conformity with this practice, the 
proceedings of all the early Councils, whose doings are 
recorded in detail, end with acclamations ; and the practice 
was kept up to the latest of them : the Council of Trent, for 
instance, ends with acclamations, led by the presiding Cardi- 
nal, and responded to by the Fathers, in the way of versicle 
and response, in such manner as could not have worked if the 
Fathers had not been drilled beforehand or given in print or 
writing what they were to acclaim. But such acclamations, 
however harmless at the end of the proceedings, must have 
been very disturbing in the middle, since it could not be agree- 
able to a speaker to be interrupted by shouts of ' anathema to 
the heretic,' ' burn him alive,' ' cut him in two.' At Chalcedon, 
where the proceedings were comparatively orderly, there 
\vere occasional scenes of great uproar. Thus, when the 
Church historian, Theodoret, whose sympathies had been with 

* The Augustan History is full of examples extracted from the official acts of 
the Senate : see, for instance, the acclamations at the death of Commodus, and 
those on the election of Alexander Severus, which fill whole chapters in the lives 
by ^Elius Lampridius. When Tacitus pleaded his age as unfitting him for the 
Empire, the Senate acclaimed : 'Et Trajanus senex ad imperium venit' (dixerunt 
decies). After acclaiming several similar sentences each ten times, then: 'Im- 
peratorem te non militem facimus ' (dixerunt vicies) ; ' Severus dixit caput imperare 
non pedes ' (dixerunt tricies), &c. At the election of Claudius II. some of the 
acclamations were repeated sixty times. Another interesting specimen is to be 
found in the official acts of the election of Eraclius as St. Augustine's successor, 
one of the acclamations being repeated twenty-five times, another twenty-eight 

3 1 2 GENERAL COUNCILS. [xvn. 

Nestorius, took his place, the Acts of the Council record 
that : ' The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted 
out : " He is worthy." The most reverend the bishops of 
Egypt shouted out : " Don't call him bishop ; he is no 
bishop ; turn out the fighter against God ; turn out the Jew." 
The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted out : 
" The orthodox for the Synod ; turn out the rebels ; turn out 
the murderers." The most reverend the bishops of Egypt : 
" Turn out the enemy of God ; turn out the defamer of 
Christ." It became necessary for the Imperial Commissioners 
to suppress the clamour. 

Succeeding Councils have been less noisy and violent ; 
but this has been because, as a general rule, the parties 
whom it was intended to condemn have not been allowed 
to be present, and the Council has only represented one 
side. I think the Council of Trent will bear advanta- 
geous comparison with some of the early Councils. Yet 
what scenes might we expect to have taken place there 
if the Protestants had been allowed to be present. We 
may guess from one little incident related by the Papal 
historian of the Council, Cardinal Pallavicino. As the 
Council was breaking up from a debate in committee on 
the exciting subject of Justification, one bishop took so 
much offence at something said by another that, as the 
cardinal tells us, after the manner of men inflamed with 
anger, he burst into an act of passion more injurious to 
himself than the original offence ; for having laid hands 
on the beard of his opponent, he pulled out many hairs, 
and forthwith left the assembly.* Great uproar ensued j 
but though the Council thought that the offending bishop 
had received much provocation, they very properly expelled 

In short, if you take up the Acts of the Councils pre- 
disposed to reverence their decisions as conclusions which 

* 'L'altro allora, secondo il costume degli appassionati nella collera, precipito in 
una vendetta assai piu nociva al vendicatore die 1'ingiuria vendicata. Imperocche 
scagliate le mani alia barba del Chironese ne strappo molti peli, ed immantenente 
partissi.' Storia del Concilia di Trento, viii. 6. 


holy men arrived at after calm and prayerful deliberation, 
you find, on the contrary, records of turbulent meetings, 
in which men who exhibited no particle of the spirit of 
Christianity used every effort to gain a victory over their 
opponents, and get them turned out of the Church. In such 
a case, if we accept the conclusions arrived at as correct, it 
is by no means on the authority of the bodies which affirmed 

How little, even at the time, was the real influence of a 
Council is proved by the poor success of the Council of 
Chalcedon in putting an end to the controversy on account 
of which it was summoned. No Council had higher external 
claims on the reverence of Christians. In the number of 
bishops present (over 600), it exceeded any previous Council. 
It had all the sanction that could be given it by the bishop 
of Rome, Leo the Great, whose dogmatic letter it enthusias- 
tically adopted. It was backed by all the efforts of the 
Emperor Marcian, whose zeal was active in extirpating the 
heresy which it condemned ; yet, after the Council, the 
Monophysite heresy spread with a new growth; and in 
respect of the number and zeal of its adherents, I think, 
surpassed the opposite party. It had frequently its leaders 
enthroned in all the Patriarchal sees Constantinople, Alex- 
andria, Antioch, Jerusalem. In fact, Egypt never acquiesced 
in the defeat it sustained at the fourth Council. The creed of 
Chalcedon was but an exotic in that country. Its adherents 
were but the 'Court party,' the Melchites. The bishop 
substituted for the deposed Dioscorus was able, in some sort, 
to maintain his authority as long as the emperor lived ; but 
when news came of the emperor's death, forthwith they 
murdered him. The empire incurred so much danger by 
fighting against Monophysitism, that formulas of reconcilia- 
tion were drawn up, in which the Council of Chalcedon was 
thrown completely overboard ; and it was attempted to state 
the doctrine of our Lord's nature in a manner in which all 
might agree. But no compromise was accepted. The fighting^ 
went on until the Mahometans came down, and swept both 
parties away; and the Monophysites exist, though with 


diminished numbers, down to our own day. As I have asked 
before, By what better criterion can we test whether a judge is 
recognized as having authority to decide a controversy than 
by observing how he is listened to when he speaks ? If we 
find that no one assents to his decisions except those who had 
been of the same opinion before he spoke, we may conclude 
that he was not owned as having authority to speak ; and 
if the Council of Chalcedon was not entitled to impose its 
decisions without examination on the Christian world, I do 
not see how such a claim can be made for any other Council. 
I have already referred to discredit thrown on Councils by 
the badness of the arguments by which their conclusions were 
arrived at. For instance, at the third General Council, Cyril, 
who, in his opposition to Nestorius, approached perilously 
near Apollinarianism, produced ' among the formal testi- 
monies to guide the bishops in their decisions, an extract 
from a writing of Timotheus the Apollinarian, if not of Apol- 
linaris himself, ascribing this heretical document to Pope 
Julius, the friend of Athanasius/* But a more plentiful crop 
of illustrations may be drawn from the proceedings of the 
seventh General Council, the second of Nicsea. The Fathers 
attempted to prove the propriety of image worship from 
Scripture ; but, as if conscious that they would have no easy 
task, they propounded the then novel doctrine of the insuf- 
ficiency of Scripture, and anathematized those who say that 
they will not receive any doctrine on the bare authority of 
Fathers and Councils, unless it be plainly taught in the Old 
and New Testament. Their Scripture proofs were not what 
would be very convincing to us. For instance, the antiquity 
of looking at images is proved from the Psalms, since David 
says, ' Show me thy face ;' and ' Like as we have heard, so 
have we seen ; ' and again, from Canticles, ' Let me see thy 
countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, 
and thy countenance is comely.' Should we have any hesi- 
tation in setting up our fallible judgment against that of 
those infallible interpreters, and in pronouncing such proofs 
to be texts wrested from their contexts, we need have 

* Newman, Tlieodoret, p. 351. 


less scruple about their proofs from antiquity, several of 
which are from spurious documents which no learned Roman 
Catholic now would venture to defend. I will read you from 
Robertson's Church History (ii. 156) one famous story, which 
was such a favourite that it was twice used in the proceedings 
of the Council : ' An aged monk on the Mount of Olives, it was 
said, was greatly tempted by a spirit of uncleanness. One 
day the demon appeared to him, and after having sworn him 
to secrecy offered to discontinue his assaults if the monk 
would give up worshipping a picture of the Blessed Virgin 
and infant Saviour which hung up in his cell. The monk 
asked time to consider the proposal, and notwithstanding 
his oath applied for advice to an aged abbot of renowned 
sanctity, who blamed him for having been so deluded as to 
swear to the devil ; but told him that he had yet done well 
in laying open the matter, and that it would be better for 
him to visit every brothel in Jerusalem than to refrain from 
adoring the Saviour and His Mother in the picture. From 
this edifying tale a twofold moral was drawn, with general 
consent : that reverence for images would not only warrant 
unchastity but breach of oaths, and that those who had 
sworn to the Iconoclast heresy were free from their obli- 

The highest point, perhaps, that Councils attained was 
at the time of the Council of Constance. For two or three 
centuries the power of the Popes had been steadily growing, 
until first, by their removal to Avignon and their subjugation 
to French influence, then by the schism in the Popedom, 
their authority was greatly weakened. The schism made it 
necessary that there should be some superior authority to 
determine who really was Pope : or rather that was not 
enough, for though Christendom was generally agreed in 
desiring that the three rival Popes should be replaced by a 
single Pope, the adherents of each were indisposed to admit 
that they had been all along in the wrong. What was needed 
was an authority which, if the Popes should not voluntarily 
resign, would be able to compel them. In order that all 
might acquiesce in its decisions it was necessary that it should 


have power to depose even a real Pope; for there were some 
who acknowledged each of the three as the real Pope. This 
power then the Council of Constance claimed in its celebrated 
decree, passed without a dissentient voice, 'that every lawfully 
convoked Ecumenical Council derives its authority imme- 
diately from Christ, and that everyone, the Pope included, is 
subject to it in matters of faith, in healing- of schism, and the 
reformation of the Church.' I do not say that this decision 
placed Councils in a higher position than they were at the 
time of the Council of Nicsea for I do not imagine that the 
Roman prelate would have dreamed then of setting himself 
above the Council but it placed them higher than they had 
been in the times immediately before, or than they were 
afterwards. For when the Council of Basle attempted to 
exercise, in the face of a universally acknowledged Pope, the 
prerogatives which the Council of Constance had claimed in 
the time of schism, the result was failure ; and the appearance 
of the Greek representatives at the Pope's Council of Flo- 
rence gave the finishing blow to the pretensions of the rival 
Council of Basle. 

The history of this rival Council of Florence, had I time 
to dwell on it, would yield a plentiful crop of reasons for 
distrusting its infallibility. I do not think Mr. Ffoulkes uses 
words too strong when he says : c Of all Councils that ever 
were held, I suppose there never was one in which hypocrisy, 
duplicity, and worldly motives played a more conspicuous 
part. How the Council of Basle was outwitted, and Florence 
named as the place to which the Greeks should come ; how 
the galleys of the Pope outstripped the galleys of the Council, 
and bore the Greeks in triumph from Constantinople to a 
town in the centre of Italy, where the Pope was all-powerful ; 
how they were treated there, and why they were subsequently 
removed to Florence, would reveal a series of intrigues of the 
lowest order.' That the Greeks were present there at all was 
owing to the urgent necessity of obtaining Western aid for 
the Greek Empire, then on the verge of ruin, against the 
Turks, by whom, less than sixty years afterwards, Constan- 
tinople was taken. The Greek bishops were only induced to 


undertake so long a journey on the terms that their expenses 
were paid by the Pope. But they found that the fulfilment 
of this bargain depended on their submissiveness. Their 
allowance for subsistence was three months, four months in 
arrear, and, when they agreed to unite with the Latins, five 
months and a-half. ' Though we made frequent demands on 
account of our need,' says one of them, ' it was not given 
until we came into the proposed conditions. When we had 
come round, we received the second monthly allowance.' Their 
spirits were broken by delays that seemed to them intermin- 
able, and they could not get away; for even if they had had 
money for the journey, passports were denied them. What 
wonder that, when they got safe home, all the concessions 
they had made were repudiated. And as to the goodness of 
the arguments by which the decrees of the Council were 
supported, it is enough to say that a great source of these 
arguments was the spurious decretals of which I mean to 
speak in another Lecture. 

But, really, investigation into the history of bygone Coun- 
cils is needless to one who can remember, as I can, the 
Council of 1870. In everything I have thus far said to 
discredit the authority of Councils, I am, as my quotations 
from Cardinal Newman will have told you, in full agree- 
ment with modern Roman Catholics, who think that, when 
they have shown that infallibility does not reside in Coun- 
cils, they have gone very near to prove that it does rest 
with the Pope. Now, if a tradesman has taken pains 
to produce a belief that his rival in business is little better 
than a bankrupt, it would be thought strange if he tried to 
get his bills cashed on the strength of having this rival's 
endorsement ; yet this was exactly what Pius IX. tried to do 
when he attempted to have his claim to infallibility endorsed 
by the Vatican Council. In the next Lectures we shall 
examine what the Pope's bill is worth ; at present, it is easy 
to show that the endorsement is worth absolutely nothing. 
The unfairness of the proceedings at the Vatican Council was 
such that the defeated party, in disgust, playing on the old 


name, ' Latrocinium Ephesinum,' called it ' Ludibrium Vati- 

There was no fair representation of bishops. In the 
first place, the assembly included some three hundred titular 
bishops bishops not presiding over any real sees, but hold- 
ing mere titles of honour given them by the Pope, or else 
missionary bishops deriving their titles from places where 
there were few or no Christian congregations. In addition, 
the German bishops, who constituted the main strength of the 
minority, complained that they were swamped by the multi- 
tude of Italian and Sicilian bishops. The twelve millions of 
Roman Catholics in Germany proper were represented at the 
Council by fourteen bishops ; the seven hundred thousand in- 
habitants of the Papal States, by sixty-two ; three bishops of 
the minority Cologne, Paris, and Cambray represented five 
million ; and these might be outvoted by any four of the 
seventy Neapolitan and Sicilian bishops. The German theo- 
logians compared their learning with that of the bishops of 
these highly favoured localities, amongst whom a clean sweep 
would have been made if it had been a condition of admis- 
sion to the Council that the bishop should be able to read 
the New Testament in its original language, or have Greek 
enough to be able to consult the writings of Greek Fathers 
or the acts of Greek Councils a qualification without which, 
north of the Alps, one does not rank as a theologian. The 
German visitors, too, compared the activity of religious 
thought in the country from which they came with that in 
those regions which provided the predominant element at the 
Council. It was said, and I believe with truth, that more 
religious books are printed in England, or Germany, or 
North America in one year than in Italy in half a century. 
And to the list of Italian publications the States of the 
Church contributed hardly anything. In Rome a lottery 
dream-book might be found in every house, but never a New 
Testament, and extremely seldom any religious book at all. 
So that it seemed as if it were a recognized principle, that 
the more ignorant a people, the greater must be the share of 


their hierarchy in the government of the Church. Then 
the minority complained that all regulations as to the trans- 
action of business were in the hands of a committee appointed 
by the majority, and solely representing them, without the 
consent of which committee no subject could be discussed ; 
and, indeed, it was complained at first that the bulk of the 
Council did not know what business was coming on. At the 
first meeting it was found that, owing to the bad acoustic pro- 
perties of the hall in which they met, nothing could be heard ; 
and a number of bishops, when asked to give their formal vote, 
' Placet ' or ' Non placet,' answered, * Non placet quia nihil 
intelleximus.' An attempt was made to improve matters in 
this respect by partitioning off a portion of the room ; but 
bad the state of things always remained. Indeed there must 
always have been a difficulty in following discussions carried 
on in Latin a language which all the bishops did not pro- 
nounce in the same way, and which in any case is not so 
easily caught, if utterance is indistinct, as are the sounds of 
one's native language. But it would be too much to expect of 
human attention to follow the speeches which were delivered, 
these being small treatises without any limitation of length, 
read by their authors without the liveliness of spoken speech, 
perhaps with indistinct utterance, and in a language with which 
the hearers were not familiar. An easy remedy for this state 
of things would have been if the speeches had been printed 
and circulated among the members of the Council, so that any 
could study at home what he had heard imperfectly. But 
here was the advantage of the Pope's holding the Council in 
his own city. There was no license of printing. A precis of 
the speaker's arguments was made for the use of an exclu- 
sively Infallibilist committee, which was to draw up the 
decrees of the Council. That precis the speaker was not 
allowed to correct, or even to see, so that if he were on the 
wrong side, it might be a mere caricature of his arguments 
which was submitted to the committee. 

Perhaps there was the less fear of doing injustice to 
the arguments, that, as I already quoted from Cardinal 
Manning, the Holy Spirit's promised assistance is sup- 


posed to be given, not to the arguments, but to the final 
vote. And, certainly, the practical rule resulting from 
belief in this principle is, ' Never trouble yourself about the 
arguments, but do all in your power to secure a vote.' 
Now, there are many ways besides arguments by which 
votes can be secured. The use of bad arguments was, 
indeed, not neglected ; for a paper was circulated, said 
to have been drawn up by Manning, containing a decree of 
the Council of Florence, garbled in a way of which I mean 
to speak on another day. But there were more powerful 
influences at work than arguments, good or bad About three 
hundred of the bishops were the Pope's pensioners, all their 
expenses being paid by him, and therefore could not be 
unbiassed judges on a question concerning his prerogatives. 
The Pope himself had his good-humoured jokes on the 
numbers who had accepted his hospitality, and declared that, 
in trying to make him ' infallibile,' they would make him 
' fallire,' that is to say, make him bankrupt. There was 
no danger of that, however ; for, in order to enable him to 
meet such expenses, a well-timed collection was made nomi- 
nally with the object of making him a present in celebration 
of the jubilee of his first Mass. Fifteen Cardinals' hats 
were vacant to reward the obedient ; and, no doubt, as 
always happens, more were influenced by the hope of Papal 
favours than actually obtained them. The Pope made no 
secret how much he had his heart set on obtaining a de- 
claration of his infallibility. This alone would weigh very 
innocently with many bishops who would shrink from dis- 
pleasing a venerated superior. Two or three bishops, who 
unexpectedly spoke on the wrong side, received from the 
Pope the severest of wiggings. * Lovest thou me ? ' was his 
salutation to another waverer. 

Now, what would you think of the merits of the British 
Parliament as a representative assembly if, in addition to 
inequalities of representation more gross than any in our 
unreformed Parliament, the Crown was free to make as 
many rotten boroughs as it pleased, and to name repre- 
sentatives for them ; if it had three hundred members 


receiving daily pay at its discretion, besides a number of 
members candidates for promotion ; and if the smiles or 
frowns of the monarch were freely applied to reward or 
punish ? But, at the Council, it was not enough to gain a 
majority: the minority must be reduced to complete insig- 
nificance ; and this was effected when, as time went on, the 
summer months arrived, and the heats at Rome became 
unbearable at least to a northern constitution. At first the 
tactics of the minority had appeared to be to lengthen out 
the proceedings. They made long speeches, some of them 
speaking out so plainly that two or three times the greatest 
uproar was excited ; and it really appeared as if there 
was danger that the scene at Trent would be re-enacted, 
when one bishop pulled out another bishop's beard. It 
became necessary for the majority to introduce what the 
French call the cloture :* that is to say, the rule was made 
that, at the request of ten bishops, it should be put to the 
vote whether the discussion should go on any longer. And 
so in the first stage of the Infallibility discussion, a premature 
stop was put to the speech-making ; and, amongst others, an 
able speech against Infallibility by the American bishop 
Kenrick was shelved. It has been since printed as a * concio 
habenda at non habita.' But when they got into the summer 
months, the acclimatized Italian and Sicilian bishops could 
bear delay with comparative impunity ; but the opponents 
of the dogma, who were natives of a colder climate, were one 
by one sickening with fever. They begged and implored 
that the Council might be adjourned ; but the Pope and his 
party understood their advantage too well, and the request 
was sternly refused. It became evident that if the minority 
indulged in much speech-making, the operation of reducing 
their numbers would be effected in a very simple way ; and so 
a vote was arrived at. 

But now appeared the mischief of the claim to infallibility. 
In our Parliament a law may be passed in the teeth of oppo- 
sition, and the minority must submit and obey the law ; but 

* The word has become more familiar now than it was when this Lectur was 



their thoughts and words are free : they can avow still that 
what has been done is opposed to their judgment. But at a 
Council, when a vote is arrived at, the minority are required 
to blot from their mind all the tricks and manoeuvres, all the 
unworthy means by which they know their resistance has 
been overpowered, and to accept the vote of a majority, no 
matter how obtained, as the voice of the Spirit of God. The 
moment the decision is pronounced, they are bound not only 
to yield a decorous obedience, but from the bottom of their 
hearts to believe that to be true which the moment before 
they had been protesting was false, and to publish this belief 
to the world. No wonder the bishops of the minority shrank 
from the humiliation of saying 'non placet' one moment, and 
'exanimo credo' the next. So, with two exceptions, they all 
ran away, leaving behind them a protest which was not 

It is plain how the chance of arriving at truth is preju- 
diced by the claim to infallibility. If no such claim were 
made, the majority would be forced to weigh the arguments of 
the minority, to count the risk of driving them into schism, 
to take care not to seem before the world to have the worst of 
the argument. But when infallibility is supposed to rest 
with the ultimate vote, the majority have no need to care 
about the arguments advanced. Secure a vote, no matter 
how, and all is gained. Thus, while there is no better way 
of arriving at truth than taking counsel with others, a Council 
which claims infallibility is a place where the wise and 
cautious are delivered over, bound hand and foot, to the will 
of a tyrant majority. 



IT remains now to speak of that theory of Infallibility 
which makes the Pope personally its organ. It is the 
theory now in the ascendant ; and, since the Vatican Council, 
may be regarded as the theory recognized exclusively by the 
Roman Church : and it is the only theory which satisfies the 
demands of the a priori arguments showing the necessity of 
an infallible guide. What these arguments try to show to be 
needful is a guide able infallibly to resolve every controversy 
as it arises ; and this need can only be satisfied by a living 
speaking voice, not by the dead records of past councils. The 
truth is, that the much desired object, of uniformity of opinion 
in the Church, can only be obtained, either on the terms of 
resolute abstinence from investigation, or else upon the terms 
of having an inspired teacher at hand competent to make new 
revelations on every desired occasion. If we adhere to the 
old theory, that Christ made one revelation, which it was His 
Church's business to preserve and teach ; let that revelation 
have been as copious as you please, still if it is limited at all, 
it is of necessity that questions must arise which that revela- 
tion will not have determined ; on which private judgment is 
therefore free, and on which, therefore, there will be difference 
of opinion. If such diversity of opinion is thought an evil, 
there must be a new revelation to supplement or explain the 
old one. And this necessity must go on as long as men con- 
tinue to exercise their thoughts on religious subjects. The 
difficulty and inconvenience of assembling Councils is so 
great that the number of General Councils during the whole 
duration of Christendom has been comparatively few, and the 

Y 2 


likelihood that many more will be assembled is but small. 
The Roman theory then leads you necessarily to expect a 
kind of incarnation of deity upon earth ; one which with 
infallible voice will decide and silence every dispute. And if 
this is not to be found in the person of the Pope it is to be 
found nowhere else. 

The marvel however is, that if the Church had from 
the first possessed this wonderful gift it should have taken 
eighteen centuries to find it out. It is historically certain 
that in the year 1870, when it was proposed at the Vatican 
Council to proclaim the fact, the doctrine was opposed by a 
number of the leading bishops ; and that since the publication 
a number of most learned, and who up to that time had been 
most loyal, Roman Catholics, consented to suffer excommu- 
nication rather than agree to it. And the reason for their 
refusal, alleged, as we shall see, with perfect truth, is that 
this new doctrine is utterly opposed to the facts of history. 
Although, then, the theory is condemned from the first by 
its novelty, let us not refuse to examine the grounds on 
which it is defended. 

But I must warn you at the outset that, although it was 
only the question of Infallibility that I proposed in these 
Lectures to discuss, I am now forced to spend time on what is 
really a different question, that of the Pope's alleged supre- 
macy. I am obliged to do so, because I must follow the line 
of argument adopted by the Roman advocates. Their method 
is to try to show that Christ made the constitution of His 
Church monarchical, that He appointed St. Peter to be its 
first ruler and governor, and that He appointed, moreover, that 
the bishop of Rome, for the time being, should perpetually be 
Peter's successor in that office. Suppose they succeed in 
proving all this : suppose it established that the Pope is, by 
divine right, sovereign ruler of the Church, it still remains 
possible that in the course of his rule he may make mistakes, 
as earthly monarchs who reign by the most legitimate titles 
are liable to do. And in point of fact it is fully admitted that, 
in his capacity of ruler and governor, the Pope may make 
mistakes, and often has made very great ones. To name no 


other, one has already come before us in the course of these 
Lectures. Whether or not it be true that the Popes, in their 
capacity of teachers, have committed themselves to the de- 
claration that it is heresy to maintain that the earth goes 
round the sun, it is certain that, in their capacity of rulers, 
they endeavoured for a long series of years to put down the 
teaching of that doctrine ; and all will own that this attempted 
suppression was unwise and impolitic, and has brought great 
discredit on their Church. Clearly, therefore, if the Roman 
advocates even succeed in establishing the Pope's supremacy, 
the task still lies before them of proving that the Pope, in his 
capacity of teacher, is infallible. We sometimes read of 
Alpine explorers who, in attempting to reach a virgin peak, 
have found themselves, after infinite labour, on a summit 
separated by impassable ravines from that which it was their 
desire to attain. And so in this case, between the doctrines 
of the Pope's supremacy and of his Infallibility there lies a 
gulf which it is, in my opinion, impossible to bridge over. To 
begin with : suppose it proved that St. Peter was universal 
ruler of the Churches, he certainly was not universal 
teacher ; for the other Apostles who were inspired as well as 
he had no need to learn from him ; and their hearers were as 
much bound to receive their independent teaching as were 
St. Peter's own hearers. But I postpone the consideration 
of difficulties of this kind. At present let us examine what 
success our opponents have in establishing the doctrine of 
the Pope's supremacy. If they succeed, it will be time 
enough then to discuss the question of the Pope's Infalli- 
bility ; for if they fail, it is all over with the latter doctrine. 

And first we have to consider the Scripture argument, 
resting on a supposed transmission to the Pope of certain 
prerogatives of St. Peter. In order to make out the theory 
by this process four things ought to be proved (i) that Christ 
gave to St. Peter a primacy over the other Apostles not merely 
in dignity and precedence, but in authority and jurisdiction, 
constituting him their guide and teacher and ruler ; (2) that 
this prerogative was not merely personal but designed to be 
transmitted to successors ; (3) that Peter was Bishop of Rome 


and continued so to his death ; and (4) that those who suc- 
ceeded Peter in this local office were also the inheritors of his 
jurisdiction over the whole Church. On this last point alone 
there would be ample room for controversy. If there be any 
faith due to the legend that Peter was Bishop of Rome there 
is some due also to the story that he had been previously 
Bishop of Antioch, which see might therefore contest with 
Rome the inheritance of his prerogatives. Again, it was never 
imagined that the bishop of the town where an Apostle might 
chance to die thereby derived a claim to apostolic jurisdiction. 
But Roman Catholic controversialists make short work of the 
dispute on the last two heads. They argue that if they can 
prove that Christ ever provided His Church with an infallible 
guide, and intended him to have a successor, we need not 
doubt that the Pope is that successor, since there is no rival 
claimant of the office. It is the more needful, then, to scru- 
tinize carefully the proofs of the first two heads, as these are 
made to do double duty : not only to prove the proposition 
on behalf of which they are alleged, but also to induce us to 
dispense with proof of the others. 

The Scripture proof, in the main, consists of three texts ; 
sometimes called the three texts, viz. (i) the promise of our 
Lord to Peter (recorded Matt, xvi.), that upon this rock He 
would build His Church ; (2) His promise (recorded Luke xxii.), 
4 1 have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and when thou 
art converted strengthen thy brethren' ; and (3) the commis- 
sion * Feed my sheep,' related in the last chapter of St. John. 
Before giving a particular examination to these texts I would 
remark on the general presumption against the Roman 
Catholic theory arising out of the whole tenor of the N. T. 
history, from which we should conclude that, highly as Peter 
was honoured, he was not placed in an office having jurisdic- 
tion over the other Apostles ; for the Apostolate is ever 
spoken of as the highest office in the Christian Church \. 
* God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily 
prophets ' (i Cor. xii. 28) : not, as it ought to be if the Roman 
theory had been true, first Peter, then the Apostles. The 
history related in the Acts gives no trace of Peter's having 

xviii.] THE THREE TEXTS. 327 

exercised the prerogatives which are now attributed to him. 
To take a single example : When Peter took the decisive 
step of eating with one uncircumcised, the Church of Jeru- 
salem (Acts xi.) called him sharply to -account for a pro- 
ceeding so repugnant to Jewish traditions ; and Peter did 
not justify himself by pleading his possession of sovereign 
authority to decide the Church's action in such a matter, but 
by relating a special revelation sanctioning what he had 
done. As for the Epistles, they certainly give no support 
to the theory of Peter's supremacy ; and in the story of Paul's 
resistance to Peter at Antioch they throw in its way one 
formidable stumbling-block. 

Still less is any hint given that Peter was to transmit his 
office to any successor. I need not say that we are not so 
much as told that Peter was ever at Rome. The New Testa- 
ment contains two letters from Peter himself; one purporting 
to be written immediately before his death, and with the 
express object that those whom he was leaving behind should 
be able to keep in memory the things that it was most impor- 
tant for them to know (2 Pet. i. 15). We may be sure that it 
Peter had any privileges to bequeath he would have done so 
in this his last will, and that if there was to be any visible head 
of the Church to whom all Christians were to look for their 
spiritual guidance, Peter would in these letters have com- 
mended him to the reverence of his converts, and directed 
them implicitly to obey him. 

Let us turn now to the texts appealed to. That in St. 
Matthew is so familiar to you all that I need not read it : but 
I will give you, in the words of Dr. Murray, one of the ablest 
of the Maynooth Professors, what this text is supposed to 
mean. He says, 'Peter was thus established by our Lord as 
the means of imparting to the Church indefectibility and 
unity, and of permanently securing these properties to her. 
Peter was invested with supreme spiritual authority to 
legislate for the whole Church ; to teach, to inspect, to judge, 
to proscribe erroneous doctrine, or whatever would tend to 
the destruction of the Church ; to appoint to offices or remove 
therefrom, or limit or extend the jurisdiction thereof, as the 


safety or welfare of the Church would require : in one word, 
to exercise as supreme head and ruler and teacher and pastor 
all spiritual functions whatever that are necessary for the 
well-being or existence of the Church/ * It takes one's 
breath away to read a commentary which finds so much more 
in a text than lies on the surface of it. If our Lord meant all 
this, we may ask, why did He not say it ? Who found out 
that He meant it ? The Apostles did not find it out at the 
time ; for up to the night before His death the dispute went 
on, which should be the greatest. When James and John 
petitioned that in His kingdom they might sit with Him, one 
on each hand, they do not seem to have suspected, and their 
Master then gave them no hint, that the chief place in His 
kingdom had already been given away. There is, as I have 
just pointed out, no other indication in the New Testament 
that the Apostolic Church so understood our Lord's words 
recorded by St. Matthew. 

It remains that this interpretation must have been got 
from unwritten tradition. We eagerly turn to explore the 
records of that tradition. Here, surely, if anywhere, we shall 
find that unanimous consent of the Fathers of which the 
Council of Trent speaks. I have already said that I do not 
refuse to attribute a certain weight to tradition in the inter- 
pretation of Scripture. I have owned that an interpretation 
of any passage has a certain presumption against it if it is 
clearly new-fangled : if it derive from the text a doctrine which 
the Church of the earliest times never found there. The more 
important the doctrine, the greater the presumption that if 
true it would have been known from the first. But certainly 
here is a case where, if the Fathers were ever unanimous, 
they could not fail to be so if the Roman theory be true. 
This is no obscure text ; no passing remark of an inspired 
writer ; but the great charter text, which for all time fixed the 
constitution of the Christian Church. If, in these words, our 
Lord appointed a permanent ruler over His Church, the 
Church would from the first have resorted to that authority 
for guidance and for the composing of all disputes, and there 

* Irish Annual Miscellany, iii. 300. 


never could have been any hesitation to recognize the meaning 
of the charter on which the authority was founded. Yet I 
suppose there is not a text in the whole New Testament on 
which the opinion of the Fathers is so divided ; and you have 
to come down late indeed before anyone finds the Bishop of 
Rome there. 

The most elaborate examination of the opinions of the 
Fathers is in an Epistle* by the French Roman Catholic 
Launoy, in which, besides the interpretation that Peter was 
the rock, for which he produces seventeen Patristic testimonies, 
he gives the interpretations that the rock was the faith which 
Peter confessed, supported by forty-four quotations ;f that the 
rock was Christ Himself, supported by sixteen ; and that the 
Church was built on all the Apostles, supported by eight. 
But as Launoy was a Gallican, and as through the progress 
of development he would not be acknowledged as a good 
Roman Catholic by the party now in the ascendant, I prefer 
to quote the Jesuit Maldonatus, whose Romanism is of the 
most thorough-going kind, and who I may add, on questions 
where his doctrinal prepossessions do not affect his judgment, 
is an interpreter of Scripture whose acuteness makes him worth 
consulting. He begins his commentary on this passage by 
saying, 'There are among ancient authors some who interpret 
"on this rock," that is, " on this faith," or "on this confession of 
faith in which thou hast called me the Son of the living God," 
as Hilary,J and Gregory Nyssen,and Chrysostom,|| and Cyril 
of Alexandria.^ St. Augustine going still further away from 
the true sense, interprets " on this rock," that is, " on myself 
Christ," because Christ was the rock. But Origen " on this 
rock," that is to say, on all men who have the same faith/ 

* Epist. vii., Opp. vol. v., pt. 2. p. 99 : Geneva, 1731. 

t This interpretation may claim the sanction of the Council of Trent, which (Sess. 
III.) describes the Creed as ' principium illud in quo omnes qui fidem Christi profi- 
tentur necessario conveniunt, ac fundamentum firmum et unicum contra quod portae 
inferi nunquam praevalebunt.' 

J De Trin. lib. vi., 36, 37. 

\ De advent. Dom. in Carne adv. Judaeos. 

|| Horn, in hunc locum, et Orat. ii., Cont. Judaeos. 

IT Dial. 4, De Trin. 


And then Maldonatus goes on with truly Protestant liberty 
to discuss each of these interpretations, pronouncing them to 
be as far as possible from Christ's meaning; and to prove, not 
by the method of authority, but of reason, that these Fathers 
were wrong, and that his own interpretation is the right one. 
I ought to tell you, however, that St. Augustine is not 
perfectly uniform in his interpretation. In one of his latest 
works, his Retractations, which does not mean retractations in 
our modern sense of the word, but a re-handling of things 
previously treated of, he mentions having sometimes adopted 
the language which St. Ambrose had used in a hymn, and 
which designates Peter as the rock of the Church, but most 
frequently he had interpreted the passage of Christ Himself, 
led by the texts " that rock was Christ," and " other founda- 
tion can no man lay." He leaves his readers at liberty to 
choose, but his mature judgment evidently inclines to the 
latter interpretation. He lays more stress than I am inclined 
to do on the distinction between Petra and Petrus, regarding 
the latter as derived from the former in the same manner as 
Christianus from Christus.* ' Thou art Petrus,' he says, ' and 
on this Petra which thou hast confessed, saying, " thou art 
Christ the Son of the living God," will I build my Church : 
that is to say, on myself. I will build thee on myself, not 
myself on thee. Men willing to build on man said, " I am of 
Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Peter." But others, who 

* This expositon of St. Augustine's was derived, probably indirectly, from Origen, 
who, though he speaks incidentally of 'Peter on whom the Church is built' (Ap. 
Euseb. H.E. vi. 25), yet, when directly commenting on the passage in St. Matthew 
(torn. xii. 10, u), teaches that everyone who makes the same confession of faith 
as Peter may claim the blessing given to Peter as given to himself. ' If you imagine 
that it was on Peter alone the Church is built, what then would you say about John 
the son of Thunder, or any other of the Apostles ? ' But he teaches that if we make 
Peter's confession we all are 'Peters.' Just as because we are members of Christ 
we are called ' Christians ; ' so Christ being the Petra the rock every one who drinks 
of ' that spiritual rock which follows us ' is entitled to be called Petrus. 'AAAo /col 
Xpiffrov f*f\Tj oj/res irapdivvfj.01 f^p-^fnanffav XpiffT lavol, irerpas 6e Hfrpoi. . . . Htrpos 
yap iras 6 xpiffrov yua^TjT^s, d<>' ov Hirivov ol e/c irvfVfJiariKris a.KO\ovQovaris irtrpas, Kal 
etrl Traffav T^V roiavrriv trtrpav oiKoSo/j.firai & fKK\r)<nari.Kbs iras \6yos Kal ^ tear' av-rltv 
iro\iTeia' tv eKaffTcp yap TUV Tf\tl(ov, -%&VT<av rb adpoifffta rcav <\T]povvr<av T^V 
(j.aKapi6rr)Ta \6ytav Kal tpyuy Kal vornj.aTuv, effnv f) virb TOV dtov oiKoSo/jLOv/>rt 


were unwilling to be built upon Peter, but would be built on 
the rock not on Petrus but on Petra said, I am of Christ.' 
Such is Augustine's commentary, which, using my Protestant 
liberty, I shall not scruple presently to reject. Other Fathers 
besides Augustine and Origen are not quite uniform in their 
interpretation : and this is not to be wondered at ; because, as 
we shall presently see, there is a sense in which the Church 
is founded on Christ alone, a sense in which it was founded on 
Peter's confession, a sense in which it was founded on Peter 
or on all the Apostles ; so that no matter which interpretation 
gives the true sense of this particular passage, it is quite 
easy to harmonize the doctrines which different Fathers 
derive from it. But none of these can be reconciled with 
the interpretation which regards this text as containing 
the charter of the Church's organization. A charter would 
be worthless if it were left uncertain to whom it was 
addressed or what powers it conferred. So that the mere 
fact that Fathers differed in opinion as to what was meant 
by 'this rock,' and that occasionally the same Father 
wavered in his opinion on this subject, proves that none of 
them regarded this text as one establishing a perpetual 
constitution for the Christian Church. My case is so strong 
that I could afford to sweep away all evidence of diversity of 
Patristic interpretation of this text. I could afford to put out 
of court every Father who interprets ' this rock ' of Christ, or 
of all the Apostles, or of Peter's confession, and to allow 
the controversy to be determined by the evidence of those 
Fathers only who understand * this rock ' of Peter himself, 
and by examining whether they understood this text as 
conferring a perpetual privilege on Peter and a local successor. 
But at present it is enough that the extract I read from St. 
Augustine shows plainly enough that at the beginning of 
the fifth century it had not been discovered that this text 
contained the charter of the Church's organization, the 
revelation of the means of imparting to her indefectibility 
and unity. And if, as I said, it had ever been known in the 
Church that this was what Christ intended by the words, the 
tradition could not have been lost ; for the constant habit of 


resorting to this authority would have kept fresh the memory 
of our Lord's commands. 

We may, then, safely conclude that our Lord did not, in 
that address to Peter, establish a perpetual constitution for 
His Church ; but as to the historical question, whether He 
did not, in these words, confer some personal prerogative on 
Peter, I do not myself scruple to differ from the eminent 
Fathers whom I have cited as holding the contrary opinion. 
It seems to me that they have erred in considering the 
general doctrine of Scripture, rather than what is required by 
the context of this particular passage. It is undoubtedly the 
doctrine of Scripture that Christ is the only foundation : 
* other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is 
Jesus Christ' (i Cor. iii. n). Yet we must remember that 
the same metaphor may be used to illustrate different truths, 
and so, according to circumstances, may have different signi- 
fications. The same Paul who has called Christ the only 
foundation, tells his Ephesian converts (ii. 10) : ' Ye are built 
upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus 
Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.' And in like 
manner we read (Rev. xxi. 14) : 'The wall of the city had 
twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the 
twelve Apostles of the Lamb.' How is it that there can be 
no other foundation but Christ, and yet that the Apostles are 
spoken of as foundations ? Plainly because the metaphor is 
used with different applications. Christ alone is that founda- 
tion, from being joined to which the whole building of the 
Church derives its unity and stability, and gains strength to 
defy all the assaults of hell. But, in the same manner as 
any human institution is said to be founded by those men to 
whom it owes its origin, so we may call those men the 
foundation of the Church whom God honoured by using them 
as His instruments in the establishment of it; who were 
themselves laid as the first living stones in that holy temple, 
and on whom the other stones of that temple were laid ; for it 
was on their testimony that others received the truth, so that 
our faith rests on theirs ; and (humanly speaking) it is 
because they believed that we believe. So, again, in like 

xviii.] ST. PETER'S CONFESSION. 333. 

manner, we are forbidden to call anyone on earth our Father, 
'for one is our Father which is in heaven.' And yet, in 
another sense, Paul did not scruple to call himself the 
spiritual father of those whom he had begotten in the 
Gospel. You see, then, that the fact that Christ is called the 
rock, and that on Him the Church is built, is no hindrance 
to Peter's also being, in a different sense, called rock, and 
being said to be the foundation of the Church ; so that I 
consider there is no ground for the fear entertained by some, 
in ancient and in modern times, that, by applying the words 
personally to Peter, we should infringe on the honour due to 
Christ alone. 

If there be no such fear, the context inclines us to look on 
our Lord's words as conferring on Peter a special reward for 
his confession. For that confession was really the birth of 
the Christian Church. Our Lord had grown up to the age of 
thirty, it would seem, unnoticed by His countrymen ; certainly 
without attempting to gather disciples. Then, marked out 
by the Holy Ghost at His baptism, and proclaimed by John 
as the Lamb of God, He was joined by followers. They heard 
His gracious words ; they saw His mighty works ; they came 
to think of Him as a prophet, and doubted, in themselves, 
whether He were not something more. Was it possible that 
this could be the long promised Messiah ? This crisis was 
the date of Peter's confession. Our Lord saw His disciples' 
faith struggling into birth, and judged that it was time to 
give it the confirmation of His own assurance that they had 
judged rightly. By His questions He encouraged them to 
put into words the belief which was forcing itself on them all, 
but to which Peter first dared to give profession. In that 
profession he proclaimed the distinguishing doctrine of the 
Christian Church. Up to that time the Apostles had preached 
repentance. They had been commissioned to announce that 
the kingdom of heaven was at hand. But thenceforward the 
religion they preached was one whose main article was faith 
in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour. 

When you once understand the importance of this con- 
fession, you will understand the warmth of commendation 


with which our Lord received what seems to us but the 
simple profession of an ordinary Christian's faith. We are 
apt to forget what an effort it was for a Jew, at the time 
when the nation was in a state of strained and excited 
expectation of some signal fulfilment of the prophetic an- 
nouncement of a coming deliverer, to give up his ideal of a 
coming triumphant Messiah, to fix his hopes on a man of 
lowly rank, who made no pretensions to the greatness of 
this world, and to believe that the prophecies were to receive 
no better fulfilment than what the carpenter's son could give 
them. One proportions praise and encouragement, not only 
to the importance of the thing done, but also to its difficulty 
to him who does it. The act of running a few steps alone, 
or of saying a few articulate words is a feat on which none of 
you would dream of priding himself ; but with what praise 
and encouragement parents welcome a child's first attempt 
to walk without support ; with what delight they catch at the 
first few words he is able to pronounce. And it is not only 
that the first efforts of the child are as difficult to him as 
some more laborious exercise would be to us; but also that 
first victory is the pledge of many more. The very first 
words a child pronounces give his parents the assurance that 
that child is not, either through want of intellect or through 
want of powers of speech, doomed to be separated from inter- 
course with mankind. The learning these two or three words 
gives the assurance that he will afterwards be able to master 
all the other difficulties of language, and will be capable of 
all the varied delights which speech affords. And so in that 
first profession of faith in Christ, imperfect though it was, and 
though it was shown immediately afterwards how much as 
to the true character of the Messiah remained to be learned, 
still in that confession was contained the pledge of every 
future profession of faith which the Church then founded has 
since been able to put forth. This accounts for the encourage- 
ment and praise with which our Lord received that confession. 
I own it seems to me the most obvious and natural way of 
understanding our Lord's words to take them as conferring a 
personal honour in reward for that confession. Thy name I 


have called Rock : and on thee and on this confession of 
thine I will found my Church. For that confession really was 
the foundation of the Church. Just as in some noble sacred 
music, the strain which a single voice has led is responded to 
by the voices of the full choir, so that glorious hymn of praise, 
which Peter was the first to raise, has been caught up and 
re-echoed by the voices of the redeemed in every age. Nay, 
the anthem of thanksgiving to Jesus, the Son of God, which 
has filled the mouths of the Church militant on earth, shall 
still be the burden of their songs in heaven as they ascribe 
* blessing, and honour, and glory, and power to Him that 
sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.' 

It was not only in this first recognition of the true charac- 
ter of our Lord that Peter was foremost. Jesus fulfilled His 
promise to him by honouring him with the foremost place in 
each of the successive steps by which the Church was de- 
veloped. It was through St. Peter's sermon on the day of 
Pentecost that the first addition was made to the numbers of 
the disciples whom our Lord Himself had collected, when on 
one day there was added to the Church 3000 souls ; and it 
was by Peter's mission to Cornelius that the first step was 
made to the admission of Gentiles to the Church ; thus 
causing it to overleap the narrow barriers of Judaism and to 
embrace all the families of the earth. Thus the words of our 
Lord were fulfilled in that Peter was honoured by being the 
foremost among the human agents by which the Church was 
founded.* But I need not say that this was an honour in 
which it was impossible he could have a successor. We 
might just as well speak of Adam's having a successor in the 
honour of being the first man, as of Peter's having a successor in 
the place which he occupied in founding the Christian Church. 

I have said that the Romanist interpretation of the text 
we have been considering is refuted by the fact that many 
eminent Fathers do not understand the rock as meaning 
St. Peter. You will see now, that even if they did,f as I do 

* The same explanation may be given of the bestowal on Peter of the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven. 

t For example Tertullian, the earliest writer quoted as interpreting the ' Rock ' 


myself, the Romanist consequences would not follow. If 
Peter were the foundation of the Church in any other sense 
than I have explained, it would have shaken immediately 
afterwards when our Lord said unto him : ' Get thee behind 
me, Satan,' and tottered to its base when he denied his Lord. 
Immediately after Peter had earned commendation by his 
acknowledgment of Jesus as the Messiah, the doctrine of a 
crucified Messiah was proposed to him and he rejected it. So 
that if the Apostles had believed that the words ' On this rock 
I will build my Church ' constituted Peter their infallible 
guide, the very first time they followed his guidance they 
would have been led into miserable error. They would have 
been led by him to reject the Cross, on which we rely as our 
atonement, and on which we place all our hope of salvation. 
I will not delay to speak of the latter part of the passage, be- 
cause it is clear that the privileges therein spoken of are not 
peculiar to Peter, very similar words being used in the i8th 
of St. Matthew to all the Apostles. 

I hasten on to the words in St. Luke, on which Roman 
Catholics are forced to lay much of their case. For when 
it is pointed out, as I did just now, that the charge in St. 
Matthew clearly did not render Peter competent to guide the- 
Apostles, it is owned that the due powers were not given to- 
him then, but it is said they were conferred afterwards. 
When it is pointed out that the disputes among the Apostles 
for precedence show that they were not aware that Peter had 
been made their ruler, it is answered that our Lord on the 
night before He was betrayed decided the subject of these 
disputes in His charge to Peter. Our habitual use of the 
second person plural in addressing individuals so disguises 
from the modern English reader the force of the Roman 
Catholic argument, that I have hardly ever found anyone who 
could quote correctly that familiar text about sifting as wheat 
unless his attention had been specially called to it. Our 
Lord's words do very strongly bring out a special gift to 

to mean St. Peter, contends vehemently (De Pudic. 21) that the privilege conferred 
by our Lord on that occasion was exclusively personal, and was fulfilled by the part 
Peter took in the first formation of the Church. 


Peter. ' Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you 
(u/iac, all the Apostles) that he may sift you as wheat ; but I 
have prayed for thee (Peter) that thy faith fail not, and when 
thou art converted strengthen thy brethren.' But certainly 
no one who interpreted Scripture according to its obvious 
meaning could suspect that the passage contains a revelation 
concerning the Church's appointed guide to truth in all time 
The whole passage refers, on the face of it, to the immediate 
danger the faith of the Apostles was in from those trials 
under the pressure of which they all deserted their Master. 
There was a special prayer for Peter because of his special 
danger, and we see that this prayer did not exclude a griev- 
ous fall. If no security of unbroken constancy in the faith 
was thereby gained to Peter, for whom the prayer was 
directly made, we have no ground for supposing that it had 
greater efficacy in the case of any alleged successors, to whom 
the petition can at most apply indirectly. It may be added 
that the work of * strengthening ' his brethren, thereby com- 
mitted to Peter (one to which he was peculiarly bound, whose 
fall had perilled men's faith), was no peculiar prerogative of 
Peter's. The same word arriptZtiv is used in three or four 
places in the Acts (xiv. 22 ; xv. 32, 41 ; xviii. 23) of Paul's 
confirming the Churches of Syria and Cilicia, of Judas and 
Silas confirming the brethren at Antioch, of Timothy con- 
firming the Thessalonian Church. And most remarkable of 
all, Paul when purposing to visit Rome, which is said to have 
been Peter's peculiar charge, expects that it is by his 
instrumentality this benefit will be conferred on the Roman 
Church : ' I long to see you that I may impart unto you some 
spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established tig TO arripi^- 
Qnvai ujuac (Rom. i. n). 

I may here, in passing, mention another passage (2 Cor. 
xi. 28), where Paul shows himself strangely unconscious 
of Peter's prerogatives. For, having enumerated some of 
his labours and sufferings in the cause of the Gospel, he 
adds : ' Beside those things that are without, that which 
cometh on me daily, the care of all the Churches/ If, as 
Roman theory would have it, the care of all the Churches 



was Peter's province, St. Paul is most unreasonable in com- 
plaining of the trouble he had incurred through gratuitously 
meddling with another man's work, thus literally becoming 
what St. Peter himself called an aXXoTpiotiriaKoiros (i Pet. iv. 15). 
But Paul elsewhere (Gal. ii. 8) limits Peter's province to the 
'Apostleship of the Circumcision,' that is to say, to the super- 
intendence of the Jewish Churches ; and states that the work 
of evangelizing the Gentiles had, by agreement with the three 
chief Apostles, been specially committed to himself and Bar- 

This prayer for Peter is so clearly personal that some 
Roman Catholic controversialists do not rely on this passage 
at all. Neither can they produce any early writers who 
deduce from it anything in favour of the Roman See. Bellar- 
mine can quote nothing earlier than the eleventh century, 
except the suspicious evidence of some Popes in their own 
cause, of whom the earliest to speak distinctly is Pope 
Agatho in his address to the sixth general council, A.D. 680. 
How earlier Fathers understood the passage will appear 
plainly from Chrysostom's commentary,* when he answers the 
question why Peter is specially addressed : 'He said this 
sharply reproving him, and showing that his fall was 
more grievous than that of the others, and needed greater 
assistance. For he had been guilty of two faults, that he 
contradicted our Lord when He said all shall be offended, 
saying, " though all should be offended, yet will I never be 
offended;" and secondly, that he set himself above the others: 
and we may add a third fault, that he ascribed all to himself. 
In order, then, to heal these diseases, our Lord permitted him 
to fall; and therefore passing by the others He turns to him : 
" Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you 
as wheat (that is to say, might trouble you, harass you, tempt 
you), but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." 
Why, if Satan desired to have all, does not our Lord say, I 
have prayed for all ? Is it not plainly for the reason I have 
mentioned ? By way of rebuke to him, and showing that his 
fall was worse than that of the others He turns His speech to 

Horn, 82. In Matt, xxvi., vol. vii., p. 785. 

xvin.] THE TEXT, 'FEED MY SHEEP/ 339 

him.' * Similar language is used by a much later expositor, 
the Venerable Bede, in his commentary on this text of 
St. Luke. He explains it f as I have by praying preserved 
thy faith that it should not fail under the temptation of 
Satan, so also do thou be mindful to raise up and comfort 
thy weaker brethren by the example of thy penitence, lest 
perchance they despair of pardon.' It is plain that the great 
teachers of the Church were ignorant for hundreds of years 
that this text contained more than a personal promise to the 
Apostle about to be tried by a special temptation, and that 
they never found out it was a charter text revealing the 
constitution of the Christian Church. 

I come now to the third text, the ' Feed my sheep ' of St. 
John ; and here too, certainly, there is no indication in the 
text itself that there was an appointment to an office peculiar 
in its kind. The office of tending Christ's sheep is certainly 
not peculiar to St. Peter. It is committed, in even more general 
terms, by St. Paul to the Ephesian elders, 'Feed the Church 
of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood ' (Acts 
xx. 28) ; and by Peter himself to his fellow elders, ' Feed the 
flock of God which is among you' (i Pet. v. i). The sequel of 
the story, too, is adverse to the supposition that our Lord 
meant to confer on St. Peter the oversight of his fellow 
Apostles. For when he asks concerning St. John, 'What 
shall this man do ? ' he receives something like a rebuke : 

* It is proper to mention, by way of set off, that in the Homilies on the Acts, 
ascribed to Chrysostom (vol. ix., p. 26), the part taken by Peter in initiating the 
election of Matthias is treated as resulting from the prerogatives bestowed in the 
words recorded in St. Luke's Gospel : eiKdrws irpiaros TOV irpdyjj.a.Tos avdevre?, are 
avrbs irdvras eyxeipi&Oeis, Tpbs yap TOVTOV elirev 6 Xpiffrds' Kal ffv wore eiriffTpffyas 
ffTTIpi^ov TOVS a$e\(}>ovs ffov. Chrysostom's authorship of the Homilies on the Acts 
has been much disputed on account of their great inferiority, both in style and treat- 
ment, to his unquestioned writings. Erasmus is so impolite as to say 'Nihil unquam 
legi indoctius. Ebrius ac stertens scriberem meliora.' Great preachers, however, 
are not always at their best, and possibly these Homilies, as they have come down 
to us, are a bad report of sermons really delivered by St. Chrysostom. And vacilla- 
tions of interpretation are so common with the fathers, that I do not regard it as 
a proof of diverse authorship that the text in St. Luke is dealt with differently in 
these Homilies and those in St. Matthew. But on no supposition is the question at 
issue more than the speculative one, what prerogatives were enjoyed by Peter 
personally ; no ambiguity of interpretation could have been tolerated if Chrysostom 
had imagined that the text in Luke determined the constitution of the Church in his 
own day. 

Z 2 


4 What is that to thee r follow thou me.' I don't know any 
respectable Patristic authority for understanding the passage 
otherwise than Cyril of Alexandria, whose commentary we 
may well adopt : ' If anyone asks for what cause he asked 
Simon only, though the other disciples were present, and 
what he means by " Feed my lambs " and the like, we 
answer that St. Peter, with the other disciples, had been 
already chosen to the Apostleship, but because mean- 
while Peter had fallen (for under great fear he had thrice 
denied the Lord), he now heals him that was sick, and 
exacts a threefold confession in place of his triple denial ,. 
contrasting the former with the latter, and compensating the 
fault with the correction.' And again, * By the triple con- 
fession Peter abrogates the sin contracted in his triple denial. 
For from what our Lord says, ' Feed my lambs,' a renewal of 
the Apostolate already delivered to him is considered to have 
been made which presently absolves the disgrace of his sin 
and blots out the perplexity of his human infirmity.' I shall 
not detain you longer with the Scripture argument ; nor shall 
I examine, for instance, how Romanist advocates struggle to 
make out that the appointment of Matthias was made by 
the single authority of Peter, because the whole history of the 
Acts (as, for instance, the appointment of the seven deacons, 
the conversion of Samaria, where we find not * Peter took 
John' but 'the Apostles sent Peter and John'), shows that 
the original constitution of the Church was not monarchical,, 
and that when that of the Jerusalem Church became so, 
James, and not Peter, was its ruler. I may mention, that in 
the Clementines of which I shall have occasion to speak again 
presently, and which did so much to raise the authority 
attributed to Peter in the Church, it is James, not Clement,, 
who is bishop of bishops and supreme ruler ; and to James 
Peter must yearly render an account of his doings.* 

* In a still later forgery, the Decretal Epistles, this is rectified. Among these is a 
letter supposed to be written by Clement, after Peter's death, to James, although, ac- 
cording to Eusebius, James died before Peter. In this letter Clement, as Peter's suc- 
cessor, assumes the position of James's master and teacher : ' Quoniam sicut a beato 
Petro Apostolo accepimus, omnium Apostolorum patre qui claves regni ccelestis 
accepit, qualiter tenere debemus de sacramentis, te ex ordine nos decet instruere.* 



I COUNT it as proved in the last Lecture that we have no 
Scripture warrant for regarding Peter as more than a 
foremost (or, if you will, the foremost) member of the Apostolic 
college, or as having any precedence but such as his boldness, 
promptitude, and energy gave him ; and that there is no trace 
of his having held over the Church any official position of 
headship, wherein, according to Christ's intention, he was to 
have a successor. I go on now to consider Peter's connexion 
with Rome, which I look on as a mere historical problem, 
without any doctrinal significance whatever way it may be 
determined. The generally received account among Roman 
Catholics, and one which can claim a long traditional accept- 
ance, is that Peter came to Rome in the second year of Claudius 
(that is, A.D. 42), and that he held the see twenty-five years, a 
length of episcopate never reached again until by Pio Nono, 
who exceeded it. It used to be said (but I believe untruly) 
that as part of the ceremony of a Pope's installation he was 
addressed * Non videbis annos Petri.' Now if it is possible to 
prove a negative at all, we may conclude, with at least high 
probability, that Peter was not at Rome during any of the 
time on which the writings of the canonical Scriptures throw 
much light, and almost certainly that during that time he was 
not its bishop. We have an Epistle of Paul to the Romans 
full of salutations to his friends there, but no mention of their 
bishop. Nor is anything said of work done by Peter in 
founding that Church. On the contrary, it is implied that 
no Apostle had as yet visited it ; for such is the inference 


from the passage already cited, in which Paul expresses his 
Avish to see the Roman Christians in order that he might 
impart some spiritual gift to the end that they might be 
established. We have letters of Paul from Rome in which 
no message is sent from Peter ; and in the very last of these 
letters Paul complains of being left alone, and that only Luke 
was with him. Was Peter one of the deserters ? The Scrip- 
ture accounts of Peter place him in Judaea, in Antioch, pos- 
sibly in Corinth, but finally in Babylon. I have discussed, 
in a former series of Lectures, whether this is to be under- 
stood literally, or whether we have here the first indication 
of Peter's presence at Rome. But plainly, if Peter was ever 
at Rome, it was after the date of Paul's second Epistle to 

Some Protestant controversialists have asserted that 
Peter was never at Rome ; but though the proofs that he 
was there are not so strong as I should like them to be 
if I had any doctrine depending on it, I think the historic 
probability is that he was; though, as I say, at a late 
period of the history, and not long before his death. I 
dare say some of you know that there was a controversy 
on this subject at Rome not long after the Pope ceased to be 
the temporal ruler of the city. Quite lately I have seen it 
still placarded as 'the immortal discussion at Rome/ Roman 
Catholic priests are, as a general rule, not fond of controversy ; 
but they were tempted into it this time by the fact that 
victory seemed certain; for the Protestant champions had 
undertaken the impossible task of proving the negative, that 
Peter was never at Rome. They might as well have under- 
taken to prove out of the Bible that St. Bartholomew never 
preached in Pekin. I don't suppose he did ; but I don't 
know how you could prove out of Scripture that he didn't. 
The event showed, however, of how little use a logical victory 
sometimes is. When the Protestants began to use such ar- 
guments as I employed just now in order to prove that Peter 
had not been twenty-five years bishop, the Romanists inter- 
rupted them by pointing out that that was not the question. 
* You undertook to prove he was never at Rome. We need 


not talk about twenty-five years ; if he was there a day, or 
an hour, your cause is lost/ Thereupon their opponents 
raised a shout of triumph. * Here are the men who, until we 
encountered them, had been asserting a twenty-five years' 
episcopate ; and now they give up the whole fable the moment 
they are grappled with, and are reduced to contend for a day 
or an hour.' 

For myself, I am willing, in the absence of any opposing 
tradition, to accept the current account that Peter suffered 
martyrdom at Rome. We know with certainty from John xxi. 
that Peter suffered martyrdom somewhere. If Rome, which 
early laid claim to have witnessed that martyrdom, were not 
the scene of it, where then did it take place ? Any city would 
be glad to claim such a connexion with the name of the 
Apostle, and none but Rome made the claim. The place of 
Peter's martyrdom was, no doubt, known to St. John, and, 
we may reasonably think, was also known in the circle where 
his Gospel was first published. Now all agree that the date 
of that publication was quite late in the apostolic age ; and 
the interval, till the time when men began to make written 
record of what they could learn by apostolic tradition, is too 
short to allow of the true tradition as to the place of St. 
Peter's martyrdom being utterly lost, and a quite false one 
substituted. In the earliest uninspired Christian writing, 
the Epistle of Clement of Rome, he makes mention of the 
martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but does not name the place 
where they suffered. There is a fair presumption, however, 
that in this Roman document Rome is intended. The 
earliest express mention of Italy as the place of their 
martyrdom is in a letter of Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, 
about 1 70. There is mention of their tombs at Rome in a 
dialogue of Caius the Roman presbyter, about A. D. 200, and 
from that time this tradition reigned without a rival. If 
this evidence for Peter's Roman martyrdom be not deemed 
sufficient, there are few things in the history of the early 
Church which it will be possible to demonstrate. 

From the question, whether Peter ever visited Rome, we 
pass now to a very different question : whether he was its 


bishop. Absentees are not popular in this country ; but the 
worst of absentees is an absentee bishop. We think it scandal- 
ous when we read of bishops a hundred years ago who never 
went near their sees ; but this abuse has now been completely 
rooted out of our Church. Canons against non-residence 
were made in earlier times; but, if we are to believe Roman 
theory, the bad example had been set by St. Peter, who was 
the first absentee bishop. If he became bishop of Rome in 
the second year of Claudius, he appears never afterwards to 
have gone near his see until close upon his death. Nay, he 
never even wrote a letter to his Church while he was away ; 
or if he did, they did not think it worth preserving. 

Baronius (in Ann. Iviii. 51) owns the force of the 
Scripture reasons for believing that Peter was not in Rome 
during any time on which the New Testament throws light. 
His theory is that, when Claudius commanded all Jews to 
leave Rome, Peter was forced to go away. And as for his 
subsequent absences, they were forced on him by his duty as 
the chief of the Apostles, having care of all the Churches. 
* Paul preached the Gospel from Jerusalem round about 
unto Illyricum, and, not satisfied with that, designed to go 
even to Spain besides. Can we imagine Peter to have been 
less active ? ' These, no doubt, are excellent reasons for Peter's 
not remaining at Rome; but why, then, did he undertake 
duties which he must have known he could not fulfil ? 

There is another respect in which the accepted version of 
Peter's history accuses him of having set a bad example. In 
the primitive Church it was accounted a discreditable thing 
for a bishop to migrate from one see to another ; and espe- 
cially from a poorer see to a richer ; it was accounted a kind 
of spiritual adultery, this forsaking a poorer wife for a richer. 
Several early canons forbade the practice ; and I have 
mentioned how one of them was worked against Gregory 
Nazianzen. Pope Leo (Ep. 84), in a decree incorporated 
in the Canon law (Si quis Episcopus, c. 7, qu. i, cap. 31), 
ordered : * If any bishop, despising the meanness of his see, 
seeks for the administration of a more eminent place, and 
for any reason transfers himself to a greater people, he shall 


not only be driven out of the see which did not belong to him, 
but he shall also lose his own, so as neither to preside over 
those whom in his avarice he coveted, nor over those whom 
in his pride he despised.' Yet we are told that Peter, in. order 
to obtain the see of Rome, abandoned that of Antioch, which 
he had previously held for seven years. 

On this charge, at least, Peter may fairly claim an 
acquittal ; for whatever credit may be due to the story of his 
Roman episcopate, the story of the Antiochene episcopate is 
entitled to still less, being both of later origin and far less 
widely believed. In fact, I consider that it was the circulation 
of the tale of Peter's Roman episcopate which stimulated the 
invention of Syrian Christians to make out an equal honour 
for their capital. There is a current story of an Englishman, 
who, in a country where veracity was not cultivated, found a 
claim made on him for the repayment of money which he 
had never received. At the trial he heard the fact of his 
having received the money attested by so many witnesses 
that he could not conceive how his own advocate could 
be able to break the case down. But he was not prepared 
for the line of defence actually adopted, which was to produce 
an equal number of credible witnesses who had been present 
when the money was duly paid back. On much the same 
system Eastern Christians attempted no contradiction of the 
story that Peter had been bishop of Rome ; but they had the 
wit to see that the date assigned for his coming to that city 
left some years free, between the dates of our Lord's Ascen- 
sion and A. D. 42, of which use might be made to establish 
an earlier dignity for Antioch. The Westerns were equally 
polite in accepting the Eastern story, the truth of which is 
strenuously maintained by Baronius, who relies on its being 
adopted in the Chronicle of Eusebius. And it is true that the 
story was fully accepted in the fourth century ; but much 
earlier evidence would be necessary in order to establish its 

* I chanced lately to have my attention drawn to another attempt to give early 
Church history a Syrian colouring. I looked into the Evidence for the Papacy, by 
the late Lord Lindsay (afterwards Earl of Crawford), in order to see whether it 


With regard to the Roman episcopate in other words, 
with regard to the charge against Peter, of having undertaken 
local duties which he must have known his apostolic labours 
could not permit him to fulfil we might be disposed to give 
him an acquittal on the ground of character alone. But it is 
satisfactory to be able to report that the case against him 
completely breaks down. In fact, we can say with confidence 
that the story had not arisen in the year 1 80 ; for Irenaeus, in 
a work published shortly after that year (Hczr. iii. 3), ascribes 
the establishment of the Roman Church to Paul as well as 
Peter ; and then adds, * the blessed apostles having founded 
and built the Church, committed the episcopal office to 
Linus. Of this Linus St. Paul makes mention in his Epistle 
to Timothy. To him succeeded Anencletus* [elsewhere called 
Cletus, or Anacletus]. After him Clement succeeded in the 
third place from the apostles.' Thus Linus is made the first 

was a book of which I needed to take notice. I found that, in producing his 
very first Patristic witness, the author was so unlucky as to stumble into both 
the traps into which an inexperienced explorer of antiquity is in danger of fall- 
ing : he took a spurious work for genuine ; and he completely misconceived what 
his witness meant to say. The witness was Ignatius, who, in writing to the 
Romans, says : ' I do not command you like Peter and Paul ; ' from which 
it is a common and, as I believe, a just inference that Ignatius regarded these 
two Apostles as having some local connexion with that Church. But Lord 
Lindsay goes on to argue that Ignatius says elsewhere (Ad Magnes. 10) that 'the 
disciples were called Christians first at Antioch when Peter and Paul were founding 
the Church.' He asks why Ignatius did not say, ' when the Apostles were founding 
the Church,' unless that he regarded these two Apostles, with whom the Church of 
Rome was connected, as superior in rank to the rest. But the second passage has a 
coincidence with Irenseus which would have awakened Lord Lindsay's suspicions if 
he had been more familiar with early Fathers ; and it is, in fact, taken from the longer 
form of the Ignatian Epistles, which critics of all schools now own to be spurious. 
But what is amusing is, that nothing could be further from this Syrian forger's 
intention than to furnish evidence in support of Roman claims. On the contrary, he 
takes the phrase which Irenseus had used about Peter and Paul founding the Church 
of Rome, and transfers it to the Church of Antioch. 

* 'Anacletus is no name I ever heard of. But Anencletus (meaning the same as 
Innocentius) is found as a man's name in a Greek inscription (Boeckh, Corp. Inscr. i. 
116, n. 1240). The Greeks always have Anencletus. In Photius (Cod. 113^.90, 
Bekker) the name stands Anacletus ; but the Cod. Marc, has the right form, Anen- 
cletus, as Dindorf observes (Thes. Gr.). The name Cletus is equally unknown, and is 
clearly a corruption of Anencletus, which sounded strange to Latin ears.' (Von 
Dollinger, First Age of the Church, ii. 153, Oxenham's translation, 1877). 


bishop of Rome, and his appointment St. Paul's work as 
much as Peter's. This is the earliest account we have of the 
succession of the Roman bishops. It is really useless to cite 
other authorities ; for a doctrine so fundamental as Peter's 
episcopate and its consequences is alleged to be, if true at 
all, could not but be known to Irenaeus. It is worth men- 
tioning, as a sample of the way in which controversy is 
conducted, that in Wiseman's Lectures this quotation from 
Irenaeus is prominent among the proofs that Peter was bishop 
of Rome, the quotation being so garbled as to make it seem 
that Linus succeeded Peter in the episcopate instead of being 
appointed first bishop by Peter and Paul.* 

I have said quite enough for the mere purpose of refuta- 
tion of the Roman claims ; but to me it is always pleasanter 
to deal with questions historically than controversially ; and 
I wish, therefore, to state the conclusions (some of them as 
I think certain, some of them from the nature of the case 
only probable) which I consider would be arrived at by a 
historical inquirer with no theological purpose in view, on 
the questions : What was the connexion of Peter and Paul 
with the Roman Church ? How came it to believe that Peter 
had been its first bishop ? and, How came the duration of his 
episcopate to be fixed at twenty-five years ? I am justified in 
thinking that candid inquirers need not differ very much on 
these questions, because I find that the results at which I 
had arrived independently are, on several points, in agree- 
ment with those obtained by von Dollinger in his First Age of 
the Church^ a book published while he was still in full com- 

* The whole passage is amusing : ' I presume it will not be necessary to enter 
into any argument to show that St. Peter was the first bishop of Rome. . . . Among 
the moderns it may be sufficient to observe that no ecclesiastical writer of any note 
pretends to deny this fact. "To St. Peter," as St.Irenseus observes, "succeeded Linus, 
to Linus Anacletus, then in the third place Clement " ' (Lectures on the Catholic 
Church, Lect. 8, vol. i., p. 278). I think I have already remarked that a controver- 
sialist who has ventured on an assertion which, when challenged, he finds himself 
unable to prove, has no better resource than to protest loudly that the thing is too 
evident to need any proof. Dr. Cunningham is equally positive the other way. He 
says (Growth of the Church, p. 43) : 'No ecclesiastical historian, who is free from 
ecclesiastical trammels, now believes that Peter was bishop of Rome.' And he is the 
nearer the truth of the two, as may be judged from the line taken by von Dollinger. 


m union with the Church of Rome, and was regarded as its 
ablest champion. 

I have seen, in a Roman Catholic book of controversy, 
the question put, Who founded the Church of Rome? and 
the answer given : It could not have been St. Paul, because 
we learn from^his Epistle that there was a Church at Rome 
before he had visited that city ; therefore the founder could 
have been no one but St. Peter. But there are absolutely 
no grounds for the tacit assumption in this argument, that the 
Church of Rome must have been founded by some Apostle. 
On the contrary, we know (Acts ii. 10) that 'strangers of 
Rome ' were present on the day of Pentecost ; and we may 
reasonably believe that some of them soon returned to 
that city, whither also the constant influx of visitors from 
every part of the empire would be sure soon to bring some 
professors of the Christian faith. It follows that the origin 
of the Church of Rome is not to be ascribed, as in the 
case of some other cities, to the exertions of some missionary 
arriving with the [express intention of evangelizing the city, 
but was due to silent and spontaneous growth. It is quite 
possible that among those who came to Rome were some 
' prophets or teachers,' but very unlikely that for some time 
any Apostles were among the visitors. I do not attach credit 
to the tradition told in the Preaching of Peter* and also by 
Apollonius,t that our Lord commanded His Apostles not to 
leave Jerusalem for twelve years after His Ascension; but 
all probability is opposed to their having, for a considerable 
time, made missionary journeys to distant places. The 
example seems to have been set by Paul in the year 48 ; and 
even he seems to have needed a special revelation to induce 
him to cross from Asia into Europe (Acts xvi. 9) : so that, 
bearing in mind how slowly the idea of throwing open 
the doors of the Church to the Gentiles gained acceptance 
with the first disciples, we must pronounce it a complete 
anachronism to imagine an assault made by an Apostle on 
the capital of the Gentile world so early as the year 42. 
I have already said that the Epistle to the Romans gives us 

* Clem. Alex. Strom, vi. 5. f Euseb. H. E. v. 18. 


every reason to think that Paul was the first Apostle to visit 
that city.* 

But what, then, are we to say to the statement of Irenaeus 
that Peter and Paul founded the Church of Rome r Probably 
the simple account of the matter is, that the visit of the two 
great Apostles was such an important event in the history of 
the Roman Church that the men of the next generations did 
not care to trace that history further back ; but it is likely 
enough that these Apostles, at the time of their visit, did 
important work in organizing the Roman Church, and guiding 
it through the period of transition from the state in which the 
Church was taught by missionaries, or men endowed with 
miraculous gifts, to the permanent state in which it was 
under the guidance of a settled ministry. That the two 
Apostles founded the Church of Rome in the sense of ap- 
pointing its first bishop is a thing by no means incredible, 
even if we do not regard the authority of Irenaeus sufficient 
to enable us to assert it as an ascertained fact. 

But we travel at once out of the region of historic proba- 
bility when any evidence, tending to induce us to believe that 
St. Peter once visited Rome, is taken as establishing that 
he was bishop of Rome. The case is much the same as if 
some person, zealous for the honour of the city of London, 
were to maintain that King Alfred had been its first Lord 
Mayor ; and by way of proof were to present us with some 
evidence that King Alfred had visited London, in which 
city he would, of course, when present, have been the most 
important personage. The functions of a King and a Lord 
Mayor are not more distinct than those of an Apostle and 
a local bishop. 

On the question of the date of the origin of episcopacy,, 
candid men on both sides appear to me to be now approach- 
ing to very close agreement. On the one hand, it may be 

* On this point I differ from von Dollinger, who says (First Age, i. 160) : ' The 
notion of a gradual origin of the community without any particular founder, or of 
Aquila and Priscilla being its founders, or St. Paul himself, is self- evidently unten- 
able.' As I remarked just now, if a man says a thing is self-evident, it usually means 
that he can give no proof of it. 


regarded as certain that, at the end of the second century, 
there not only were bishops everywhere, but there was no 
recollection that the constitution of the Church had ever been 
different; and men even found it hard to conceive the idea 
of a Church without its bishop. On the other hand, we find, 
in the Acts of the Apostles, but one clear indication of a 
Church being presided over by a single resident ruler, 
namely, that of the Church of Jerusalem, presided over by 
St. James. For other such indications we have to go down 
to St. Paul's later Epistles, and perhaps to the Revelation 
and the third Epistle of St. John. In the New Testament 
records of the apostolic age, though we find ' bishops' men- 
tioned, the word does not appear to denote persons singly 
bearing rule in separate Churches, but to be employed as 
equivalent to * presbyters'; and this use is continued in the 
genuine epistle of Clement of Rome. It is found also in the 
lately recovered Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Thus, then, 
although I hold that the episcopal form of Church government 
dates from apostolic times, I consider also that its rise must 
be placed quite late in apostolic times. This is the opinion of 
von Dollinger, who says (First Age, ii. 130): 'The office 
afterwards called episcopal was not yet marked off; the 
Episcopate slept in the Apostolate. It was the last branch to 
grow out of the apostolic stem. In Jerusalem it had already 
taken shape in the person of St. James, whose attitude 
towards the local Church, his renunciation of missionary 
work, and his remaining within the holy city, point him out 
as the first true and proper bishop. The other Apostles 
discharged their episcopal office in superintending and 
guiding different communities.' My own opinion is that 
St. James was not only bishop of Jerusalem, but that the 
veneration gained for him, both by his personal character 
and by his kinship to our Lord, obtained for him, as the 
Clementine author believed, that position of primacy over 
the whole Church which, in later times, it was imagined had 
been possessed by Peter. In fact, Jerusalem, being the 
mother Church, naturally exercised commanding influence 
over the daughter Churches (Acts xv. i, Gal. ii. 12) ; and so 


the head of the Church of Jerusalem possessed, over the 
entire, authority the exact extent of which we need not 
trouble ourselves to define. 

Von Dollinger attempts to explain why the branching 
off of the Episcopate as a distinct office did not take place 
earlier. He considers that, 'while the Temple stood, and 
the connexion with Judaism was not finally dissolved, the 
organization of the Church was, in one sense, incomplete and 
provisional. It might in the interval have presbyters, who 
were a common Jewish institution ; and their appointment 
was no sign of separation ; but the appointment of bishops 
would certainly have been regarded by all Jews, and by Chris- 
tians also, as an act sealing the exclusion of the Church, and 
its definitive separation from the Israelite nation and religion. 
Therefore the Apostles retained the episcopal authority pro- 
visionally in their own hands'; and he goes on to urge that 
until the two nationalities, the Jewish and Gentile, were 
completely amalgamated, their mutual jealousies (exhibited, 
for instance, in Acts vi.) would have made it difficult for a 
bishop, chosen from either party, to obtain submission from 
the other. And he urges, further, that it would be difficult, 
in newly-formed Churches, to find men with due qualifications 
for single rule ; and that in such Churches it would be easier 
to find a dozen presbyters than one bishop. The result is, 
that we may not only think it an absurdity to speak of an 
Apostle as bishop of Rome, but also, without at all denying 
the apostolic origin of episcopacy, may count it an anachro- 
nism to speak of anyone as bishop of Rome in the year 42. 

Accordingly, although Bellinger, as a good Roman Catho- 
lic, contends that St. Peter was the founder of the Church of 
Rome, yet he appears to shrink from calling him bishop of 
Rome, and even explains away the story of his twenty-five 
years' episcopate. He says (ii. 149) : 'From this list [the 
Liberian] comes the much-criticised statement of the twenty- 
five years' duration of St. Peter's episcopate. This does not 
mean that he was bishop at Rome twenty-five years, as it was 
afterwards misunderstood, but that from Christ's Ascension 


to his death was twenty-five years, during which he held his 
episcopate that is to say, his dignity in the Church.' For 
myself, I cannot admit that there was any misunderstand- 
ing, for I do not believe that those who asserted Peter's 
Roman episcopate intended to be understood in any but the 
obvious sense of the words ; but Dollinger's explanation is 
quite necessary in order to make the assertion consistent 
with truth. But, according to this explanation, St. Paul had 
the same right as St. Peter to be accounted bishop of Rome, 
and each Apostle to be accounted also bishop of each of the- 
Churches which enjoyed his superintending care. So that, if 
we call an Apostle bishop because he exercised episcopal 
nay, more than episcopal power, we must also hold that, in 
apostolic times, one bishop might hold several sees, and one 
see have, at the same time, more bishops than one. 

I have already stated that the earliest list of Roman 
bishops we have got is that published by Irenseus about A. D. 
1 80. But Irenseus was not the first to publish a list of Roman 
bishops. A list had been made by Hegesippus some twenty 
years earlier, as we learn from an extract from -his writings 
preserved by Eusebius (H. E., iv. 22). The claim of certain 
Gnostic sects to have derived their peculiar doctrines by 
secret tradition from the Apostles stirred up the members of 
the Catholic Church to offer proof that whatever apostolic 
traditions there were must be sought in those Churches which 
had been founded by Apostles, and which could trace the 
succession of their bishops to men appointed by Apostles. 
It would seem to be with the object of collecting evidence 
for such a proof that Hegesippus travelled to Rome. He 
states that on his way he stopped at Corinth, where he found 
Primus as bishop, and was refreshed with the orthodox 
doctrine of the Church, which it had held since its first 
foundation. Thence he proceeded to Rome, where he arrived 
in the episcopate of Anicetus, which may be roughly dated 
as A.D. 155-165. He tells us that he then made a ' succession 
of bishops' (&a?ox)i>) down to Anicetus ; and that in every 
city and in every succession the teaching was in accordance 


with the law, and the prophets,* and the Lord. He adds 
that to Anicetus succeeded Soter, and to Soter Eleutherus, 
who had been deacon to Anicetus. Thus it appears that the 
work from which Eusebius made his extract was published in 
the episcopate of Eleutherus the same episcopate as that in 
which the work of Irenseus was published. But it may reason- 
ably be inferred that Hegesippus had published his list of 
bishops in the time of Anicetus, to which, in the later work, 
he merely adds the names of the two bishops, Soter and 
Eleutherus, who had succeeded Anicetus. Nothing more 
than what is here quoted is directly known of the list of 
Hegesippus ; but Bishop Lightfoot has lately (Academy, May 
21, 1887) given reasons, which to me appear convincing, for 
thinking that we have indirect means of knowledge of it. 

Epiphanius (Hcer. xxvii. 6) gives a list of Roman bishops, 
beginning with Peter and Paul, and ending with Anicetus. 
This list entirely agrees with that of Irenaeus, except that 
Anencletus is here called Cletus. Also, besides the mere list of 
names, Epiphanius shows, in this section, that he had infor- 
mation as to the duration of episcopates, which, it may be 
presumed, he drew from the same source as that whence he 
derived the list of names. Now, the chapter in question 
begins, * There came to us one Marcellina, who had been 
deceived by these [viz. the Carpocratians], and who perverted 
many in the times of Anicetus, bishop of Rome, the successor 
of Pius and of the above-mentioned' Many critics had inferred 
from the phrase 'to us ' that Epiphanius, who is habitually 
clumsy in his use of his authorities, has here incorporated in 
his work a sentence taken bodily from an older writer, who 
must have written in Rome where Marcellina taught her 
heresy. This inference is confirmed by the phrase ' the 
above-mentioned,' for in what precedes, Epiphanius had made 
no mention of Pius or his predecessors : it is afterwards that 

* Tev&ufvos 5 ev 'Piafj.ri, SioSoxV eiroir]ffa./j.r)v /ue'xpu 'Avi/rijTou, ov SiaKOvos 1\v 
'E\vdepos. Kal irapa 'A.viK-f)rov SiaSexerai 2a>Tr)p, /j.fQ' t>v 'E\fvdfpos. 'Ev fKaffrri tit 
SiaSoxfi Kal tv eKatr-rp TroAei OUTWJ X el > <* s ^ VO/JLOS Krjpvffaei Kal ot TrpotpriTai Kal & 
Kvpios. It must be remembered that hostility to the Old Testament was a marked 
feature of the leading Gnostic sects. 

2 A 


he goes on to explain this sentence by giving a list of Roman 
bishops. Lipsius had conjectured that Hippolytus was the 
writer from whom Epiphanius borrowed this sentence ; but 
Bishop Lightfoot puts forward the preferable claims of Hege- 
sippus, who, we know, was in Rome in the time of Anicetus, 
and whose work contained a list of Roman bishops ending 
with that prelate. Lightfoot points out a further coincidence, 
which seems to me enough to remove all doubt as to the 
correctness of his suggestion. In the same context Epi- 
phanius quotes a passage from the epistle of Clement of 
Rome, with which epistle he would seem, however, to have 
no direct acquaintance ; for he states that he found the quo- 
tation, tv TKTIV i)TTOfjLvr]fjLaTiafjLoiq. Now, Eusebius (if. s., see also 
iv. 8) calls the books of Hegesippus i/Tro/iv^uara ('Hyjjo-tTTTroe 
tv TTtvre rot? etc 17/xae tXOovatv uTro/uv^amv),* and states that the 
passage already quoted, in which Hegesippus mentions his 
visit to Rome, followed yufra nva irtpl rijg KAjj/uim>e Trpoc 
KopcvOfovc tTTiaroXije avT( flpri/jtva. There seems, then, good 
reason to think that the list given by Irenaeus just repro- 
duces for us the list made by Hegesippus some twenty years 
before, except that the latter list may not improbably have 
noted durations of episcopates, which Irenseus omits as irrele- 
vant to his purpose. Dollinger, indeed (ii. 150), considers 
that Irenseus ' certainly did not know Hegesippus's book, or 
he would have appealed to it against the heretics ; ' but the 
coincidence appears to me so close as to exclude the supposi- 
tion that the authorities are independent ; and it is possible 
that what Irenseus knew was not the book published in the 
episcopate of Eleutherus by Hegesippus, but the list which 
he had made, and probably had published, in the episcopate 
of Anicetus. In any case we arrive at the result, that in any 
investigation as to the origin of episcopacy, we must take it 
as a fact that a traveller to Rome, about 160, found the 
Church ruled by a bishop (Anicetus), and that the Roman 

In another passage (xxix. 4), where Epiphanius quotes inrofj.vri/j.aTiff/jLol as his 
authority, there is reason to think that Hegesippus is also intended ; for the passage 
relates to a tradition concerning James, our Lord's brother, of whom Hegesippus 
wrote largely (Euseb., H. ., ii. 23). 


Church then believed that, since the Apostles' times, it 
had been governed by bishops, whose names were then pre- 

To return now to the story of Peter's Roman episcopate, 
the real inventor of that story was an editor of the Clementine 
Romance, of which I spoke when lecturing on the New Tes- 
tament Canon. This work was brought to Rome at the very 
end of the second or beginning of the third century; and 
it had then prefixed a letter from Clement to James at 
Jerusalem, telling how Peter had ordained him, and set 
him in his own chair of teaching as bishop of Rome. 
Though the doctrinal teaching of the Clementines was re- 
jected as heretical, the narrative part of the book was readily 
believed ; and in particular this story of Clement's ordination 
by Peter was felt to be so honourable to the Church of Rome 
that it was at once adopted there, and has been the tra- 
ditional Roman account ever since. 

But the adoption of this fable sadly perplexed the chrono- 
logy. For, according to the list of Irenaeus, Clement was but 
the third Roman bishop since the Apostles ; and this is 
confirmed by the internal evidence of Clement's epistle, 
which, according to the judgment of the best critics, cannot 
be earlier than about A.D. 97. It was felt that unless Clement 
could be pushed back to an earlier period, his ordination by 
Peter would not be chronologically possible. Accordingly, 
another list of Roman bishops was published,* which puts 
up Clement to the second, and pushes down Anacletus 
to the third place. This double list has been very perplex- 
ing to historical inquirers ; but that the earlier order of 
Irenaeus is really correct is proved by a kind of evidence 
which I count peculiarly trustworthy. In the Roman Liturgy 
to this day the names of its first bishops are commemorated 
in the order of Irenaeus, viz., Linus, Anacletus, Clement. If this 

* My own opinion is that this innovation was made by Hippolytus, the first in 
the Roman Church to take up the study of chronology a science, however, in which 
he deserves credit for zeal and industry, rather than for skill. His list appears to have 
been published in the third decade of the third century a time when the story of 
Clement's ordination by Peter had come to be fully believed in. 

2 A 2 


were the original order we can understand its being pre- 
served in the Church of Rome (which was very conservative 
in liturgical matters), notwithstanding that subsequent chro- 
nologers of eminence placed Clement second. But if Clement 
had been really originally in the second place, it is quite 
impossible that the name of Anencletus, who is unknown 
to Church history, should have been placed before him. 
These Clementine legends have so filled with fable the whole 
history of St. Peter, that I should even think the story of 
Peter's coming to Rome at all to be open to question, were 
it not, as I already said, that no rival Church claims the 

The Clementine letter itself, which represents Clement as 
ordained by Peter, and as succeeding Peter in his chair 
as chief teacher of the Church, does not expressly speak of 
Peter as bishop of Rome. Tertullian, in the early part of the 
third century, had heard and believed the story of Clement's 
ordination by Peter, for he speaks (De Prcescrip. 32) of Poly- 
carp having been placed by John over the Church of Smyrna ; 
and Clement, by Peter, over the Church of Rome. But it 
does not seem to have dawned on Tertullian that Peter 
was bishop of Rome any more than John was bishop of 

We can only give conjectural answers to the questions, 
Who first counted Peter as bishop of Rome ? and, How came 
the duration of his episcopate to be fixed at twenty-five years ? 
but I will tell you what seems to me most probable. Were it 
not that there is no better authority for believing Peter to 
have been bishop of Rome at all than for believing that he 
came to Rome in the second year of Claudius, many learned 
Roman Catholics would be glad to be rid of this inconvenient 
addition to the story. They have found the bringing St. Peter 
to Rome so early as the year 42 to be attended with chronolo- 
gical difficulties sufficiently perplexing. First, they have had 
to push back the date of the imprisonment of Peter by Herod, 
which independent chronologers, with general consent, assign 
to the year 44. Then they have to bring back Peter to Jerusa- 
lem, to be present at the Council of Jerusalem, the proceedings 


at which are related (Acts xv.). Then they want him at Rome 
again, in order that the edict of Claudius mentioned (Acts xviii.) 
may provide him with a decent excuse for leaving his see, 
and undertaking those missionary labours in 'Pontus, Galatia, 
Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia/ which appear to have 
continued so long that non-Episcopalians would be justified 
in concluding that a Church could get on very well without a 
bishop. If the commencement of the Roman episcopate 
could be placed at a later date, the Roman advocates would 
certainly find their task much easier. 

Now Hippolytus was the first Christian scientific chrono- 
loger at Rome. Before his time, lists of Roman bishops had 
been made, and notes of the duration of episcopates had been 
preserved ; but I consider that it was Hippolytus who first 
put these dates together, with the view of showing how the 
whole interval between our Lord's time and his own was to 
be accounted for. My belief is that, in working his way 
chronologically back, he placed the accession of Linus 
twenty-six years after our Lord's Ascension. You may 
take it as a fact that, in the early part of the third 
century, men had come to find it impossible to conceive the 
idea of a Church without a bishop. So to the question, What 
about the twenty-six years before the accession of Linus ? 
Was there no Roman Church then ? Hippolytus answered 
that there was, and that it had St. Peter as its bishop ; and 
my belief is that the duration of twenty-five years was 
intended to indicate that the Roman Church was founded the 
year after our Lord's Ascension.* 

Now you, perhaps, hardly understand how much chrono- 
logy has been helped by the use of a fixed era, such as ' Anno 
Domini,' and how difficult early chronologers who did not use 
this assistance found it to make their sums total agree when 
they added together lengths of episcopates, and lengths of 
emperors' reigns for the same period, the durations being 

* Substantially this view is taken by von Dollinger in the passage already cited 
from his First Age of the Church. Elsewhere he seems to think that the twenty- 
five years was intended to represent the interval between Peter's imprisonment by 
Herod and his martyrdom. 


often given only by whole number of years, without mention 
of months and days. There is, therefore, nothing to wonder 
at if, when the calculations of Hippolytus, who was not a 
skilful computer, were repeated by abler chronologers, they 
arrived at a somewhat different result ; and taking Peter's 
episcopate at twenty-five years as he had fixed it, instead of 
getting back to the year after the Ascension, only got back to 
the second year of Claudius. 

As I have quoted Epiphanius just now, there is a peculiar 
notion of his which it is worth while to mention before con- 
cluding this Lecture. Irenaeus, as I have said, begins his list 
of Roman bishops by naming Peter and Paul as the founders 
of the Church, and as having appointed Linus as Bishop. 
We have just seen reason to think that Hegesippus also 
began by naming Peter and Paul. It follows that there is as 
good reason for calling Paul first bishop of Rome, as for so 
calling Peter. This was clearly seen by von Dollinger, and 
was no doubt the reason of his evident reluctance distinctly 
to call Peter bishop of Rome. He says concerning the 
passage in Irenseus : ' This makes the regulation of the 
Roman Church and the appointment of Linus a common 
act of both apostles ; and since then the Roman bishops 
have been frequently regarded as successors of both. The 
Roman Church was viewed as inheriting* alike from St. Paul, 
his prerogative of Apostle of the Gentiles, and from St. Peter, 
his dignity as foundation of the Church, and as partaking the 
power of the keys/ And he goes on to say that Eusebius 
says of Alexander that he formed the fifth bishop in the 
succession from Peter and Paul, and that he almost always 
reckons the others 'from the Apostles/ i.e. Peter and Paul. 
He adds that later such expressions are frequent as that the 
Roman Church is the seat of the two Apostles, or that the 
power of Rome is founded on Peter and Paul. Now, the 
admission that the origin of the Roman episcopate is to be 
traced to Paul as much as to Peter, is equivalent to an 
admission that neither Apostle was bishop of Rome in the 

* But where is the evidence that such an inheritance was bequeathed to Rome 
any more than to the other Churches where these Apostles respectively laboured ? 


modern sense of the word. For the ancients never dreamed 
of two bishops sitting, like two kings of Brentford, in the 
same chair. 

There is just one Father who had the courage to entertain 
this notion, viz. Epiphanius. In his time (the end of the 
fourth century) the assertion that Peter had been bishop of 
Rome had gained general acceptance. But he saw that 
ancient authorities gave as much justification for counting 
Paul bishop of Rome as for counting Peter. So he jumped 
to the conclusion that they had both been bishops : Hirpog 
Kitu IlavXoc 01 aTToaroAoi avTol KOI ItriaKOiroi (H&r. xxvii. 6). 
Nay, he elsewhere (Ixviii. 7) names it as a peculiarity of Alex- 
andria that 'it never had two bishops, as the other cities had.' 
Dr. Hatch (Growth of Church Institutions, p. 17), with easy 
faith, accepts this passage as 'decisive,' that 'where there 
was more than one community in a city, there was, as a rule, 
more than one bishop.' Those who know their Epiphanius 
will be amused at hearing anyone quote as ' decisive,' on any 
subject, the unsupported testimony of an author so uncritical 
and so rash. But, in this case, ' Epiphanius stands quite 
alone ' : ' there is no hint or trace elsewhere of one Church 
having really had two bishops.' But Dollinger has been 
successful in tracing how the * uncritical and credulous 
Epiphanius ' got his view, namely, from the Apostolic Consti- 
tutions (in their present shape a fourth-century forgery, but) 
which he accepted as a genuine work of the Apostles, calling 
it a Otiog Aoyoe, and often making use of it. He there found 
(vii. 46) that St. Peter had appointed Euodius, and St. Paul 
Ignatius, at Antioch ; that at Ephesus St. Paul appointed 
Timothy, and St. John appointed John. His idea about two 
bishops at Rome has been already mentioned. But at Alex- 
andria he found Anianus, appointed by St. Mark, named as 
first bishop ; whereas Abilius, appointed by St. Luke, only 
succeeds on the death of Anianus. Hence Epiphanius 
derived the fancy that there was something exceptional in 
the constitution of the Church of Alexandria. 



IN a former Lecture I considered the Scripture arguments 
which have been adduced to prove that the Pope, by 
divine right, enjoys a Primacy, originally conferred by our 
Lord on St. Peter, and since then transmitted by succession 
to the bishops of Rome. It is a useful test of interpretations 
of Scripture to examine into their antiquity ; for there is 
always an immense presumption against any new-fangled 
interpretation. I did not neglect to apply this test in the 
former Lecture, and we found that those passages of the 
New Testament which Roman Catholics now adduce as 
establishing the Pope's supremacy were not so understood 
by the most ancient interpreters of Scripture. But antiquity 
supplies us with a further test. The passages in question are 
not of a merely theoretical character, but are supposed to 
have fixed the constitution of the Christian Church. We 
may then turn from commentators on Scripture to study the 
history of the Church, in order to find whether that history 
has really been such as it must have been if the Romanist 
interpretation of these texts be the right one. 

We know, as a historical fact, that the bishops of Rome, 
in the course of the Christian centuries, have exercised au- 
thority over distant cities. The question at issue is, whether 
or not that authority dates from the foundation of our re- 
ligion. If it had been bestowed by our Lord Himself before 
He left this earth, we should find it exercised from the first, 
and its rightfulness universally acknowledged. But the con- 
trary is the case. We can trace the history of the growth 
of the supremacy of the P%.oman bishop, exactly as in 


secular history we can trace the process by which the city 
of Rome came to exercise imperial dominion. We thus 
learn that in ecclesiastical matters, as well as in secular, 
Roman supremacy is a development, not a tradition. 

If I desired a summary proof that some at least of the 
powers which the Popes have exercised in later times were 
not part of the original prerogatives of the see, I should 
find it in the oath which every bishop in communion with 
Rome is now bound to take on his appointment : * The 
rights, privileges, and powers of the see of Peter I will, 
to the best of my ability, extend and promote.' In fact, 
every bishop of Rome thought he was doing a good thing 
if he gained for his see some powers and privileges which 
had not previously belonged to it ; and for some cen- 
turies he has pledged all over whom he has power to aid 
him in this laudable endeavour. But one man's powers 
and privileges cannot be extended except at the expense 
of those of someone else. If the Popes get more power, 
independent bishops must have less. The Pope's avowed 
policy for centuries, therefore, has been one of usurpation ; 
and unless we believe either that all the Roman Catholic 
bishops have perjured themselves, or that their united 
efforts, continued for hundreds of years, have failed to 
augment and promote the rights, dignities, and privileges 
of the Pope, that prelate must possess some powers now 
which his predecessors did not enjoy. 

But it is quite unnecessary for me to elaborate any proof 
that the doctrine of Papal Supremacy is a development ; for 
it is fully owned by Newman how faint are the traces of it 
in the history of the early centuries. I have already told 
you that the method of his celebrated Essay on Development 
is to make frank confession that neither Scripture nor Tra- 
dition will furnish any adequate proof of Roman doctrines. 
But then he contends that the same confession must be made 
about doctrines which Roman Catholics and we hold in com- 
mon, and he puts forward his theory of Development as able 
to supply the deficiency alike in either case. Thus, then, 
while he owns (p. 164) that the Pope's Supremacy is a 


development, so also, he contends, is Episcopacy. He tells us 
that St. Ignatius in his Epistles is silent on the subject of the 
Pope's authority ; but that this is because that authority was 
not, and could not, be in active operation then. While apostles 
were on earth they exercised the powers both of bishop and 
Pope. When they 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 
would, in consequence, be wanted.' ' When the Church was 
thrown on her own resources, first local disturbances gave 
exercise to bishops, and next ecumenical [disturbances gave 
exercise to Popes.' Newman quotes with assent some of 
Barrow's topics of proof that Roman supremacy did not exist 
in the first ages of the Church : namely (i) that in the writ- 
ings of the Fathers against the Gnostic heretics of the second 
century they never allege the sentence of the universal pastor 
and judge as the most compendious and efficacious method of 
silencing them ; and (2) that heathen writers are quite igno- 
rant of the doctrine, although no point of Christian teaching 
would be so apt to raise offence and jealousy in pagans, no 
novelty be more suspicious or startling than this creation of 
a universal empire over the consciences and religious practices 
of men, the doctrine also being one that could not but be very 
conspicuous and glaring in ordinary practice. Newman also 
assents to Barrow's assertion that ' the state of the most primi- 
tive Church did not well admit such a 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 on justice could a few distressed Christians in 
Egypt, Ethiopia, Parthia, India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Ar- 
menia, Cappadocia, and other parts have to Rome?' 

Newman is quite consistent with the thesis of his Essay 
in abandoning Tradition as a basis for the doctrine of Papal 
supremacy ; but the basis of Development on which he 
attempts to build it is altogether insufficient to constitute any 


firm foundation. For the history of Development can only 
tell us what has been, not what ought to be. The cases of 
Episcopacy and Papal Supremacy are not parallel ; because 
the former institution dates from apostolic times ; and if it can 
be shown that it was established by apostles, then it can 
claim a right to permanent continuance. But what claim for 
permanence can be made on behalf of any form of Church 
government which confessedly shaped itself at least two or 
three centuries after the apostles were all dead ? Let us 
liberally grant that an ecclesiastical monarchy was the form 
of government best adapted to the needs of the Church at the 
time when, in temporal matters, the whole civilized world 
was governed by a single ruler ; and yet it might be utterly 
unfit for her requirements in subsequent times when Europe 
has been broken up into independent kingdoms ; and we 
might be as right now in disowning Papal authority as our 
ancestors were in submitting to it. 

The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men in temporal 
matters as well as in spiritual ; and we can trace the working 
of His Providence in guiding events in the one as well as in 
the other. We can see, for example, how the establishment 
of the Empire of heathen Rome tended to the furtherance of 
the Gospel, which never could have spread so rapidly from 
land to land if it had not been for the facility of intercourse 
resulting from the Roman peace. Yet no evidence that the 
Roman Empire was for a time beneficial to the world would 
show that it was divinely intended to have perpetual dura- 
tion, or that we now commit any sin in not belonging to it j 
and if we recognize the guiding hand of God's Providence in 
the formation of that Empire, we might equally do so in its 
dissolution. In like manner, a citizen of the United States of 
America cannot help owning that his country was originally 
colonized from Great Britain ; that the authority of the 
Sovereign of England was recognized in these States with- 
out question for a century or two ; that English rule was of 
the greatest advantage in protecting the infant colonies from 
enemies, and conferring other benefits on them ; yet he would 
hold that the time came when English rule was no longer 


beneficial, and that now the Sovereign of England neither 
hath nor ought to have authority in the United States. Thus, 
then, in like manner, the most that the theory of Develop- 
ment could do for the doctrine of Papal Supremacy would 
be to establish a proof that there have been times when the 
Pope's supremacy has been beneficial to the Church (or, to 
speak more cautiously, to the Western Church) ; that there 
have been bishops of Rome whose aims were high, whose lives 
were good, and by whose rule it was at least better to have been 
guided than by any other likely at the time to have been sub- 
stituted for it. But surely it will be granted me, without my 
having need to open up topics from which I have refrained 
in this course of Lectures, that there have been bishops of 
Rome whose aims were not high, whose lives were not pure, 
and whose guidance it was not good to follow. What claim 
to obedience can such make out ? Unless it be held that 
God's Providence ceased to exert itself three centuries ago, 
or else that it has merely a local operation, and does not 
extend to England, Scandinavia, or Germany, the theory of 
Development will afford as good a justification for the revolt 
from Papal authority in the sixteenth century as for its rise 
and growth in the third or fourth and subsequent centuries. 
And this theory would not prevent a historical student from 
pronouncing Papal Supremacy to be now a useless or mis- 
chievous survival of a form of Church government which has 
had its day, but which is unsuited to the character of the 
present age. If, therefore, we are to establish any justification 
of Papal Supremacy we must fall back on the old sources 
of proof, Scripture and Tradition ; for Newman's proposed 
substitute, the theory of Development, completely breaks 

If we once admit Roman Supremacy to have been but a 
development, there were natural causes in operation which 
quite sufficiently account for it. The primacy of the bishop 
of Rome grew naturally out of the precedence accorded to 
the bishop of the first city of the Empire. Our own expe- 
rience would tell us that the people of the greatest city can 
choose their bishop from among a larger number of candi- 


dates, that they are likely to be able to secure the services 
of an abler man, that they can put larger sums of money 
at his disposal for charitable and other purposes, and alto- 
gether make him a much more influential person in the 
Church than the bishop of a small town. Romanists who 
refer the supremacy of their see to divine appointment are 
naturally desirous to throw into the background the human 
causes of the greatness of the see ; yet one example is enough 
to show how inevitably the temporal greatness of a city leads 
to the pre-eminence of its bishop. If there be room for con- 
troversy as to the causes which gave Rome the first place 
among Christian sees, there can be no doubt as to the cause 
which elevated Constantinople to the second place. It was 
the temporal greatness of the city and nothing else. Byzan- 
tium was quite an upstart capital, raised to that dignity only 
in the fourth century by the will of the Emperor Constantine. 
It had no Christian historic associations. No Apostle had 
evangelized the town, or had addressed letters to it, or suf- 
fered martyrdom there. It was not even a metropolitan see, 
but was subject to Heraclea, the very name of which may be 
unfamiliar to some of you. At the time when Constantinople 
was made a capital, the recognized order of precedence of 
the great sees was Rome, Alexandria, Antioch. Yet without 
a struggle the relations between Constantinople and Heraclea 
were inverted. Against the further elevation of Constanti- 
nople there would naturally be strong objection on the part 
of Alexandria and Antioch, not to speak of that which might 
arise from sees formerly fully equal to Byzantium, which was 
now made the superior. And, besides, the bishop of Rome, 
sagaciously perceiving that Constantinople, if once admitted 
to the second place, would be a far more formidable rival for 
the first place than Alexandria or Antioch could be, resisted 
the promotion of Constantinople with all his might. But his 
resistance was in vain, and the title of Constantinople to the 
second place came in time to be fully admitted at Rome. So 
if we had not a multitude of other examples in ecclesiastical 
history, how inevitably a change in the civil position of a 
city entails a change in its ecclesiastical position, this one 


example would put the fact beyond controversy. It is plain 
that the causes which, in spite of all the disadvantages of a 
late start, were able when Constantinople became the second 
city of the Empire to raise its see to the second place, would 
alone have sufficed to raise to the first place Rome, which 
for three Christian centuries before the foundation of Con- 
stantinople had reigned without a rival as the undisputed 
capital of the world, the place of resort of visiters from every 
land, the centre both of commerce and of intellectual activity, 
the wealthiest of cities, the home of the conquering race who 
had been accustomed to see the world bow down to them. 

One cause there was which might have prevented Rome 
from taking the first place among Christian Churches I mean 
the superior claims of Jerusalem, which had been the cradle 
of Christianity, the place whence the missionaries had issued 
forth who had evangelized the world. Accordingly in one of 
the earliest forms of that Clementine romance, of which I had 
before occasion to speak to you (a form, indeed, which I be- 
lieve to be earlier than the introduction of Clement into the 
story), James, bishop of Jerusalem, is represented as head of 
the Christian Church ; Peter has been sent abroad on a 
mission by James, but is bound to render him periodical 
reports of his progress ; and the forgery called the Clementine 
Homilies purports to be a report of the discourses of Peter, 
whether to heathen or to heretics, sent by the missionary 
Apostle for the information of his ecclesiastical superior. But 
the destruction of Jerusalem swept away all danger of rivalry 
with Rome from that quarter. The city might have recovered 
its overthrow by Titus, but the formidable rebellion in the 
reign of Hadrian was visited by severer penalties. Jews 
were utterly banished from the spot, and a Gentile city was 
founded there, called, after the Emperor, ./Elia ; which no 
circumcised person was allowed to enter. ^Elia was not at 
first regarded as identical with Jerusalem, or as heir to its 
privileges. In the list of bishops of Jerusalem given by 
Eusebius (and as I believe taken by him from his predecessor 
as a historian, Hegesippus) two distinct series are recog- 
nized that of the bishops of the circumcision, who presided 


over the ancient city; and that of the Gentile bishops, 
who ruled over ^Elia. In the constitution of the Christian 
Churches, so late as the Council of Nicaea, Jerusalem had no 
metropolitan prerogative ; and in Palestine, as elsewhere, 
the rule prevailed that the city highest in civil rank was also 
highest in ecclesiastical. Jerusalem was therefore subor- 
dinate to Caesarea, the capital of Palestine, whose bishop, 
Eusebius the historian, took a leading part at Nicaea, and 
was honoured with much confidence by Constantine. But 
shortly after that Council, the fashion of pilgrimages was set 
by the Emperor's mother Helena, whose visit, leading to 
what has been happily called the Invention of the Cross, 
made Jerusalem a centre of resort for Christians, and gave it 
a place in their esteem which it had not previously enjoyed. 
At the third General Council, you will remember, John of 
Antioch was on the losing side. Juvenal of Jerusalem, an 
impudent and ambitious man, was on the winning one, and he 
actually attempted not only to elevate his see to metropolitan 
rank, but to place it above that of Antioch. The latter attempt 
had only a momentary chance of success; but Jerusalem did 
become relieved of subordination to Caesarea, and was placed 
in a position next below Antioch. However, my present 
purpose is to point out that Rome had no rivalry from Jeru- 
salem to encounter, and that there was no other city which 
could claim to have communicated to Rome her knowledge 
of the Gospel. Rome had received a letter from the Apostle 
Paul, and that Apostle had taught there for at the very least 
two years. It is not recorded in inspired history that Peter 
also visited Rome, and that both Apostles suffered martyr- 
dom there ; but I think the testimony to these things is 
enough to warrant belief in them, and certain it is that the 
early Church did believe in them without doubt ; so that 
there was nothing to detract from the superiority which 
its temporal greatness gave to Rome, on the ground of its 
being inferior to any rival in closeness of relation to the first 
preachers of the Gospel. 

The considerations I have brought before you only establish 
for Rome a precedence of honour and dignity, though it is 


well, in all our investigations, to bear in mind that this 
honourable precedence is a matter about which there has 
not been, and need not be, any dispute. Rome's right to 
govern other Churches is quite another matter, and was only 
gained after hard struggles and by slow degrees. Her first in- 
terference with other Churches was of the most honourable 
kind of a kind that no Church is likely strongly to object 
to, namely, sending them money, or otherwise conferring 
benefits on them. There was no Church, some of whose 
leading members would not have occasion to visit Rome, 
and be able on their return to tell of hospitality and good 
offices received from the Christians there. By merely suspend- 
ing such friendly relations, Rome had it in her power to in- 
flict a severe penalty on any Church. But that wealthy 
Church not only exercised generous hospitality to strangers 
who visited it, but was bountiful of gifts to poorer Churches. 
An interesting early example accidentally becomes known 
to us through a fragment of a letter written about 170 by 
Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, to the Church of Rome. 
Eusebius, who preserves it, remarks that the practice of the 
Roman Church which Dionysius commends had been con- 
tinued down to the Diocletian persecution of his own time. 
Dionysius writes, in acknowledgment of a donation sent from 
Rome : * This has been your custom from the beginning to 
bestow benefits in various ways on all the brethren, and send 
supplies to many Churches in different cities, here refresh- 
ing the poverty of the needy, and in the mines ministering 
to the wants of the brethren there confined. In the supplies 
which you have been in the habit of sending from the be- 
ginning, you Romans keep up the traditional custom of 
the Romans, which your blessed bishop Soter has not only 
maintained but increased, both administering the bounty 
which is sent to the saints, and comforting with blessed 
words the brethren who go up to your city, as an affec- 
tionate father his children ' (Euseb. H. E. iv. 23). Dionysius 
adds the interesting information that Soter's letter had come 
just in time to be read at their Sunday service, and promises 
that it should continue so to be read for their edification from 


time to time, in the same way as the previous letter of the 
Church of Rome written by the hands of Clement. There is 
no reason to think that there was anything special in the 
relations between Rome and Corinth, or that this instance, 
the knowledge of which chance has preserved for us, is other 
than a fair specimen of the munificent liberality of the wealthy 
Roman Christians to foreign Churches. A confirmation is 
given in another fragment preserved by Eusebius of a letter 
of the Alexandrian Dionysius. Writing to Stephen of Rome, 
and mentioning different provinces, he says : * Syria and 
Arabia, to which you sent help on different occasions' (Euseb., 
H. E. vii. 5) ; and, oddly enough, a third example is connected 
with the name of a third Dionysius, who was bishop of Rome. 
St. Basil, writing to Damasus of Rome (Ep. 70), gratefully 
calls to memory how in former days this Dionysius had sent 
agents to his province of Cappadocia to redeem captives. 
Remember now that all communications of the Church of 
Rome with foreign Churches were made through their bishop. 
We claim no divine right for the English episcopate to rule 
over colonial Churches ; yet different colonies have acknow- 
ledged the Archbishop of Canterbury as their metropolitan. 
If ever we see a native episcopate in India, who can doubt that 
the opinion of the English episcopate would have overpower- 
ing weight with it, even though England has no divine claim 
to rule India in spiritual matters ? But suppose that all the 
money subscribed in England for foreign or colonial missions 
was administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury ; that there 
was no Church Missionary Society, or Society for the Propa- 
gation of the Gospel, or Colonial and Continental, or such 
like, but that the English Primate was the one man to be 
appealed to whenever any good work abroad was in need of 
help, do you think that in such a case the fact that that 
prelate exercised commanding influence would require any 
elaborate explanation ? 

The fable of Peter's Roman episcopate at once supplied the 
bishops of Rome with an ecclesiastical justification for a pre- 
cedence which, on political grounds, it was inevitable for them 
to exercise. This gain of dignity by historical associations 

2 B 


operated more strongly in favour of Rome, because this 
was exactly the point in which its most formidable rival, 
Constantinople, was deficient. This upstart capital was, by 
the favour of the Emperor, put over the heads of ancient 
sees, which were far better able than Byzantium to connect 
themselves with the Apostles. Now the Sovereign can give 
rank, but he cannot give pedigree. He may make a noble- 
man, but he cannot give him old blood. In the desire of Rome 
to keep down Constantinople, and prevent her from coming 
into rivalry with her, she had sympathy from Alexandria 
and other great eastern sees, which had been long accustomed 
to yield precedence to Rome, but had no mind to see a new 
superior placed over their heads. And, in particular, these 
sees sympathized with Rome when she tried to alter the 
ground of her priority from what it had been before, and 
to claim precedence not because of her political greatness, 
but because of her historical connexion with the Apostles. 
For, according to that rule, Constantinople ranked below 
Alexandria and Antioch as much as below Rome. 

It is rather amusing how careful the bishops of Rome 
thenceforward became to protest against the rank of sees 
being made to depend on the civil rank of their cities. Thus, 
Innocent I. writes : ' It has not seemed fitting that the Church 
of God should change her course according to the changes of 
the necessities of this world' (Ep. 18, Mansi, iii. 1055). But 
the fact is that Church history swarms with examples of 
changes of this kind ; for the logic of facts is too strong for 
theories. The example that first occurs to me owes its in- 
terest to its being an incident in the life of a great man, St. 
Basil. In 375, when the Emperor Valens divided the pro- 
vince of Cappadocia into two, the bishop of Tyana, which 
was now raised to the rank of a capital, at once assumed 
that he was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan, was 
released from all subordination to the old capital, Caesarea, 
and was entitled to claim obedience from the minor sees 
of his half of the province. He took on him to assemble 
synods of bishops, and to seize the revenues which the suf- 
fragan bishops sent to the principal see. This led to some 


distressing disputes, in which Gregory Nazianzen was forced 
to take a share ; but practically the victory remained with the 
bishop of Tyana. And at Chalcedon it was made a canon 
that the ecclesiastical should follow the civil divisions. 

I proceed now to examine into the history of the early 
Church, and to inquire whether in their controversies they 
recognized the bishop of Rome as their ruler, teacher, and 
doctor. Confessedly, the opinion of him who was the leading 
bishop of the Church had great weight in every dispute ; but 
the question now is, whether his decision was final, and 
whether, when Rome had spoken, the cause was finished. 

At the outset of the inquiry, in one of the earliest of 
Christian uninspired writings, the epistle of Clement of Rome, 
we find an example, to which Romanists gladly appeal, of an 
interference of the Church of Rome with a distant Church. 
The object of the letter was to heal a schism in the Corinthian 
Church; and the Romans use an urgent, and to some it 
has seemed an imperious tone, in addressing their Corinthian 
brethren. They exhort the offenders to submit ' not to them 
but to the will of God' ( 56) : 'Receive our counsel/ they 
write, ' and ye shall have no cause of regret' (58). 'But 
if certain persons should be disobedient unto the words 
spoken by God through us, let them understand that they will 
entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger; 
but we shall be guiltless of this sin' ( 59). 'Ye will give us 
great joy and gladness if ye render obedience unto the 
things written by us through the Holy Spirit, and root out 
the unrighteous anger of your jealousy, according to the 
entreaty we have made for peace and concord in this letter ' 

( 63). 

Before we pass a judgment on these sentences, it is 
necessary to know the circumstances which gave occasion for 
them ; for it is never safe to say that any language is too 
strong, without knowing what has occurred to justify it. 
Strange to say, the account of the transaction most favour- 
able to the Roman pretensions is that given by a Scotch 
Presbyterian. Dr. Cunningham (Growth of the Church, p. 
53) states that the occasion of Clement's letter was that the 

2 B 2 


Corinthians ' had, with much bitterness and bad blood, dis- 
missed some of their presbyters; when the Roman Church, 
to whom, perhaps, the paid off* presbyters had appealed, 
wrote to remonstrate.' And he adds that ' this venerable 
document clearly proves that, at the period when it was 
written probably towards the end of the first century the 
Churches of Rome and Corinth were under the rule of 
presbyter-bishops, with a very limited jurisdiction, and sub- 
ject to dismissal from their office at the caprice of the people.' 
Now, if this were really the constitution of the Church 
in the first century, the Corinthians acted fully within their 
rights in cashiering officers who had ceased to be acceptable 
to them ; and the interference of the Roman Church is 
inexplicable, unless it possessed, or at least claimed, the right 
of controlling the independent action of foreign Churches. 
But it is remarkable that there is no trace in the letter 
itself of any pretension of the kind. Not a hint is given that 
the question of deposing presbyters was one on which Rome 
ought to have been consulted, or one which it had any right 
to review. It is not stated that there had been any appeal 
to Rome on the part of the displaced presbyters, but only 
that the transactions at Corinth had become notorious, and 
had brought great discredit on their Church (oxrre rd at^vov 
KOI Traatv avwpwTrotc a^tayaTnjrov ovo/na u/iwv jueyaAwc j3Aaa- 
$T}lnr\Br\vai}. This letter claims no superiority for the Roman 
Church ; and if the writer declares that its remonstrances 
cannot be disregarded without sin, it is because of his con- 
viction of the enormity of the evil which called them forth. 
For, far from thinking with Dr. Cunningham that it lies 
within the discretion of a Church to turn off its presbyters 
when so disposed, he treats the deposition of presbyters, 
against whom no misconduct had been alleged, as a mon- 

* It is a pity that Dr. Cunningham did not quote in full the otherwise unknown 
authority whence he derived this feature ; for it would be interesting to know how 
much these presbyters, on being dismissed, received as composition for their an- 
nuities. Also, since the same authority, no doubt, told something as to the fees 
payable in the Roman ecclesiastical courts in the first century, we should be enabled 
to tell how far the sum they received would go in defraying the costs of an appeal 
to Rome, which, in later times at least, were considerable. 


strous and unheard-of thing. In the view of later times, 
what had taken place at Corinth might be described as feuds 
or dissensions ; but, in the view of the writer, rebellion 
against the authority of the duly-appointed presbyters was 
' a detestable and impious sedition, madly stirred up by a 
few headstrong and self-willed persons' (/unapa^ ical avoatov 
mdatuQ fjv oXiya Trpoawira TT/ooTrerij KOI avOaSrj virap\ovTa tig 
TOCFOVTOV arrovuiaQ l^,tKavaav). He argues that it is necessary 
to the well-being of every society that duly-constituted order 
should be respected ; and (c. 44) that the order constituted in 
the Christian society owed its origin to apostolic appoint- 
ment. He has no other terms of peace to counsel than that 
those who had rebelled should penitently submit to lawful 
authority, even going into voluntary exile, if, for the sake of 
peace, that should be necessary. Such a letter as this could 
clearly not be regarded as an attempt by Rome to domineer 
over provincial Churches. On the contrary, the constituted 
authorities of every Church would be grateful for the moral 
support generously given them by the Church of the chief 
city; while the general acknowledgment of the principle, 
contended for in the letter, of the stability of the sacred office 
would do much to increase the reputation of the Church 
which had been its successful champion. Even those whose 
conduct was censured in this letter could take no offence at 
its tone, which is only that of the loving remonstrance which 
any Christian is justified in offering to an erring brother. 

But it is necessary to remark that Clement's letter is in 
the name, not of the bishop of Rome, but of the Church of 
Rome. Clement's name is not once mentioned. It is from 
independent sources (the earliest, Dionysius of Corinth, has 
been just mentioned) we learn that Clement was the writer ; 
but from the letter itself we should not so much as discover 
that Rome had any bishop. ' The later Roman theory sup- 
poses that the Church of Rome derives all its authority from 
the bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter. History 
inverts the relation, and shows that, as a matter of fact, the 
power of the bishop of Rome was built upon the power of 


the Church of Rome. It was originally a primacy, not of 
the episcopate, but of the Church.'* 

All through the second century this subordination of the 
bishop to the Church continues. The bishop only addresses 
foreign Churches as the mouthpiece of his Church. We have 
the letter already referred to, written by Dionysius of Corinth, 
(about 170) in the name of his Church, addressed to the Church 
of Rome, and acknowledging the benefactions sent through 
their bishop Soter. The letter to which he replies had been 
written, not in Soter's name, but in that of his Church, as 
appears from the use of the plural number. ' To-day we kept 
the Lord's holy day, on which we read your letter ; by which 
we shall be able to be constantly admonished, reading it from 
time to time, in the same manner as your former letter to us, 
written by the hands of Clement.f 

At the very end of the century, the proceedings with 
which the name of Victor is associated, taken with a view 
of excluding Quartodecimans from communion, were taken, 
not in the bishop's own name, but in that of his Church. 
There is so far an advance in the prominence of the bishop, 
that Victor does not suppress his own name as did Clement ; 
but still the letter is not his, but that of his Church.J And 
the plural number is still used in the reply of Polycrates, 
in which also it is implied that the request that he should 
take the opinion of the neighbouring bishops had been made 
in the name of the Church, not the bishop, of Rome. 

What has been said as to the fact that in the first century 
the importance of the bishop of Rome was merged in that of 
his Church receives singular confirmation from the Ignatian 
Epistles. Among non-canonical writers, Ignatius is the first 

* Lightfoot's Clement, p. 254. 

t f^v ffimepov ol>v KvpiaK^iv aylav fyue'pcw 5iriydyo/j.fV, fV ^ av4yvaifj.fv vp.<av T^V 
firiffTo\{}v' fy e|o/xj' aft irore avayivcaffKovres vovBfTf'iffBat, a>s Kal TT]V Trporepav rj^uv 

os ypatyeiffav (Euseb., H. E. iv. 23). 
J [<pfpfrat ypafy))] fiav 2irl 'P^/xr/s 6/j.oiws &\\i) irepl rov aiirov ^TjT^aTos, eiriffKOirov 

pa 5t]\ov(ra. 

'ESvvd/j.Tf]v tie T<av liciaKtnrtav riav tfvp.ira.p&vriav nvrifnovfvffai, ots vfaets riJ-itaffart 
\nr' fyov, Kal fifrfKa\fffd/j.riv (Euseb., H. E. v. 24). 


distinct witness to the episcopal form of Church government. 
His letters to the Asiatic Churches are full of exhortations to 
obey the bishop and to be united to him ; but in his letter 
to the Church of Rome no hint is given that there is a bishop 
entitled to the obedience (not to say of foreign Christians, 
but even) of his own people. No salutation is sent to the 
bishop ; and, in short, we should not discover from this letter 
that there was a bishop of Rome. I am not prepared to 
adopt the inference some have drawn, viz. that episcopacy 
was a form of Church Government which developed itself 
first in Asia Minor, and which, when Ignatius wrote, had 
not yet extended itself to Rome. But there seems reason to 
think that the bishop of Rome was then only concerned with 
domestic government, and that Ignatius had not even heard 
his name. On the other hand, the dignity of the Church of 
Rome is fully acknowledged in this letter. It is addressed 
to the Church ' which presides in the place of the country 
of the Romans.'* The best commentary on these words is 
afforded by Tertullian, whose own language may possibly 
have been suggested by them (De Praescr. 36): 'ecclesias 
apostolicas apud quas ipsae adhuc cathedrae apostolorum 
suis locis praesident' Thus each of the Apostolic Churches 
is regarded as presiding in its own district ; so that though 
it would cost us nothing to admit a pre-eminence of the 
Church of the world's metropolis over all other Churches, 
the language appears to limit the presidency to the Roman 

While on this subject, I must not omit to discuss another 
early testimony to the eminence of the Roman Church. I 
have already (p. 352) mentioned how Church writers refuted 
the Gnostic pretence to the possession of secret apostolic 
traditions, by tracing the successions of their own bishops up 
to the Apostles, and thus showing that it was in their own 
Churches that the genuine apostolic tradition must have been 
handed down. Irenseus, who uses this argument (ill. 3), says, 
that because it would be too long in a work like his to enu- 
merate the successions in all the Churches, he will content 

* T}TIS Trpo/cafJrjTat fV roirtf xtapiov 'Fw,uaiW. 


himself with giving the succession of bishops in the Church 
of Rome : * Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potentiorem 
principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam (hoc 
est, eos qui sunt undique fideles) in qua semper, ab his qui 
sunt undique, conservata est ea quae est ab Apostolis tra- 
ditio.' The passage has only been preserved in a Latin 
translation, and commentators have differed very much in 
their attempts to restore the Greek. Some Romanist writers 
have understood the first clause to mean that it is the duty 
of every Church to conform to that of Rome ; but it has been 
pointed out with perfect justice that ' necesse est ' is not the 
Latin equivalent for Set, which would be rendered * oportet/ 
but for avajKr] ; and expresses not moral obligation but natural 
necessity. When our Lord said (Matt, xviii. 7), avayicri yap 
iXOelv TO. CTicavSaXa, he did not mean that it was a moral duty 
that offences should come. Making this correction, how- 
ever, those who understand the clause to mean that other 
Churches would be sure to be found agreeing with the Church 
of Rome, have differed among themselves as to the reason 
given, * propter potentiorem principalitatem'; some restor- 
ing the Greek so as to find in these words a claim founded 
on the civil greatness of Rome, others on the antiquity of 
the Church. These differences I need not discuss, because I 
feel no doubt that Grabe is right in considering that the 
words ' convenire ad ' are not Latin for * agree with,' but 
for * resort to,' and that ' undique ' is not to be taken as 
meaning no more than ' ubique ' ; so that the meaning 
of Irenseus is ' Rome is, on account of its civil great- 
ness, a place to which every Church must resort : that is 
to say, every Church does not come thither officially, but 
Christians cannot help coming to the city from the Churches 
in every part of the world. We have no need, then, to ex- 
amine the apostolic tradition of these Churches in their re- 
spective lands. We can learn it from their members to be 
found in Rome, who, being in communion with the Roman 
Church, must agree with it in doctrine ; and thus the apos- 
tolic tradition preserved in the capital has been preserved 
not by native Romans only, but by the faithful collected in 


the city from every part of the world.' Understanding the 
passage thus, it is seen to have no relevance to modern 
controversies. I am surprised that Grabe's explanation has 
not been more generally adopted,* because it seems to me the 
only one which brings out the force of the parenthesis ' hoc 
est qui sunt undique fideles,' and which gives a meaning to 
* in qua/ by which Harvey is so much puzzled that he wants 
to translate it ' whereas/ 

I come now to what is regarded by many as the first mild 
attempt at Papal aggression the proposal of bishop Victor 
at the very end of the second century to excommunicate the 
Asiatic Quartodecimans. I have on a former occasion (In- 
troduction to N. T. y p. 43) called your attention to the pre- 
dominance of the Greek element in the early Roman Church ; 
and in particular to the fact that we have in Victor a bishop 
with a Latin name succeeding to a line of bishops whose 
names (such as Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherus), in the vast 
majority of cases, indicate a Greek origin. Hence it has 
been thought that Victor's arrogance may be accounted for 
by the fact that he belongs to a time when the Roman 
Church was no longer that of a foreign colony in the great 
city, but had now a predominance of native Romans, ruled by 
a bishop of their own conquering race. But it seems to me 
that there are considerations which tend to mitigate any 
harsh judgment we might be disposed to pass on Victor.f 

I think the young student of Church history is apt to be 
a little scandalized on learning that there were such warm 

* He is followed by Neander, who has an admirable note (Kirchengeschichte, \. 
210), but was perversely misunderstood by Stieren, who says, ' miror Neandrum, qui 
sequitur Grabium, illud "convenire " de conventibus legatorum ex omnibus ecclesiis 
Romam missorum interpretari.' Of course Grabe and Neander were not thinking of 
embassies to the Church of Rome, but of the necessary recourse of Christians to the 
capital on account of civil business. Grabe quotes what Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 
32) says of Constantinople : ds %v TO. iravraxodev &Kpa ffvvrpex ft an< ^ * ne 9^ Canon 
of the Council of Antioch : tv TTJ fj.r]rpoir6\ei iravraxoQev owrpe'x*"' iravras TOVS 
irpdyfj.aTa exovras. Neander adds a still more apposite quotation from Athenaeus 
(i. 36), who describes Rome as an epitome of the world in which every city is found 

t Hippolytus, who, it must be owned, had an object to serve in his eulogium, 
describes Victor as a kind-hearted man (fHa"ir\ajx vos }- (Haer. Ref. ix. 12.) 


controversies in the second century on the question of the 
proper day for the celebration of Easter. Surely, he thinks, 
this is a matter of no importance. Might not any day have 
been selected by common consent ? or if there had been any 
difficulty about this, might not different Churches without 
offence keep their Easter on different days ? Yet we have 
experience enough among ourselves what warmth of feeling 
can be stirred by ritual peculiarities indifferent in themselves, 
but supposed to indicate objectionable tendencies in those 
who adopt them. In the great majority of Irish churches 
any attempt to assimilate our ritual practice to Romish usage 
would give the greatest offence ; and the clergyman who 
should introduce the innovation would plead in vain that 
the change was an improvement, or that it only concerned 
matters of indifference. Now in the second century the 
contest with Judaism was as pressing as the contest with 
Romanism is among ourselves ; and in the West natural 
suspicions were excited of the orthodoxy of a man who in 
place of keeping his Easter on the day observed by the 
Church, wished to celebrate it on the day of the Passover 
of the unbelieving Jews. For these reasons the Quartodeci- 
man usage would naturally be disliked in the West ; yet still 
as long as it was merely known to be the practice of distant 
Churches, it was not difficult to tolerate it. But as I have 
already explained (p. 276), the case was altered when a pres- 
byter at Rome denounced the usage of his own Church as 
un-apostolic, and as one to which a Christian could not with 
a good conscience conform. Then it might well seem time 
that diversity should be put an end to ; and I have pointed 
out that this was not an attempt to impose a Roman pecu- 
liarity on the rest of the Christian world, but that Victor 
commenced by writing to the leading bishops, asking each 
to assemble his neighbours and report to him their practice. 
It was armed with this evidence that Quartodecimanism 
was only a local peculiarity, that he called on the Asiatic 
Churches to conform to the usage of the rest of the world on 
pain of being excommunicated. According to my view of 
Christian duty, the matter in dispute was one in which a 


local Church is not justified in resisting the rest of the Church 
universal; and I think the Asiatic Churches ought to have 
given way, rather than break unity. Yet they could plead a 
tradition for their practice reaching, as they believed, up to 
the Apostle John ; and when I bear in mind that the Chris- 
tian Easter is but a commemoration of events which happened 
at the Jewish Passover season, I find no difficulty in believ- 
ing that St. John's practice may have been to hold the 
Christian feast on the same day as the Jewish. But though 
I can also think it possible that other Apostles may have 
celebrated differently, and though I hold, moreover, that it 
lies within the competence of the Church, for reason that 
seems to her good, to deviate from Apostolic usage in ritual 
matters, yet I cannot be surprised that these views were not 
shared by the Asiatic Christians of the second century, and 
that they held themselves bound, in defiance of threats, to 
adhere to the traditional practice of their Churches. 

A few words may be necessary to explain what was meant 
by the threat of excommunication which was used against 
them : it meant a suspension of those friendly relations which 
I have already described (p. 275) as existing between the 
different Churches which all regarded themselves as members 
of one great community. That one Church should break 
these relations with another did not necessarily imply any 
claim of superiority. If the Sovereign of England were to 
dismiss the Russian ambassador, it would be a token of 
hostility, but would not imply any claim of superiority over 
the Sovereign of Russia. Even before the Pope lost his 
temporal dominions, the Crown of England refused to hold 
diplomatic intercourse with him, yet did not thereby show 
that it counted him as an inferior. Nevertheless, any Church 
would feel it as a most severe penalty were Rome to break 
communion with her. She would thereby lose the good 
offices of the Church most powerful in influence and in 
money. Her members, on visiting the city which strangers 
had most occasion to frequent, would find themselves, no 
matter how high office they had held at home, treated as 
aliens to the Christian community. Added to the practical 


inconvenience would be the stigma of an exclusion which, 
according to the general feeling of Christians, ought not to 
be inflicted but for grave cause. This same general feeling, 
however, would make one Church slow to break communion 
with another ; for the result of such an attempt, if unsup- 
ported, would be, instead of isolating that other, to isolate 
themselves. Accordingly, the threat by which it had been 
expected to bring the Asiatic Churches into conformity was 
one of separation, not from the Roman Church merely, but 
from the whole society of Christian Churches. But the at- 
tempt to carry out the threat was frustrated by the resistance 
of Irenaeus, who wrote not only a letter of sharp remonstrance 
to Victor himself, but wrote also to several other bishops, 
urging that whole Churches of God ought not to be separated 
from communion on account of an ancient custom, and 
pointing out that the matter in dispute was one on which 
differences had previously not been allowed to interrupt 
communion ; citing in particular the fact that Anicetus of 
Rome and Polycarp, though unable to agree on this sub- 
ject, had remained in close communion with each other. The 
result of these remonstrances seems to have been that the 
attempt to excommunicate the Asiatics was abandoned ; for 
we find during the next century no trace of interruption of 
communion ; and the suppression of Quartodecimanism was 
only effected by the Council of Nicaea, which could speak in 
the name of the universal Church with an authority possessed 
by no single bishop. 

I think that if we put the Romish controversy out of our 
heads, we shall have no difficulty in sympathizing with all 
the parties in this transaction. We cannot wonder that 
Victor should have been anxious to obtain uniformity of 
practice, and that he should have thought that object attain- 
able through pressure put by the general body of Christians 
on a small number of dissentients. We can sympathize also 
with the unexpected tenacity with which the Asiatics held to 
a usage which they believed to be Apostolic, and we can sym- 
pathize still more heartily with the counsels of peace offered 
by Irenaeus. But we should not have been allowed to put 


the Romish controversy out of our heads if the parts of Victor 
and Irenaeus had been interchanged. Suppose it had been 
Irenseus who had rashly broken communion with the Asiatic 
Churches ; suppose that Victor had then written a letter to 
Irenseus, sharply rebuking him,* and had written also to 
other bishops, warning them not to separate from those 
who had been unwarrantably excommunicated ; and suppose 
that in consequence of this action of Victor's the threatened 
schism had been averted, would not that have been paraded 
as a decisive proof of Papal Supremacy ? and certainly it 
would be one far stronger than any which, as things are, 
early Church history can furnish. 

In my opinion this was not the first time on which the 
Gallic Church had come forward to defend the independence 
of the Asiatic Churches ; but the passage which I have in 
my mind is one which has been differently understood. In 
the Montanist controversy the chief subject of difference was 
that the Montanists regarded certain women as prophets, 
and reverenced their utterances as inspired by God's Spirit, 
while the local bishops considered them to be under the 
influence of demoniacal possession, and even attempted to 
exorcise the evil spirit which possessed them.f Now Euse- 
bius (v. 3), in relating the events of the year 177, tells that 
the brethren in Gaul then drew up a judgment of their own 
on this Montanist question, a judgment pious and most 
orthodox, in which were also set forth letters which the 
martyrs in the great persecution of that year had written 
while yet in prison to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia, and, 
moreover, to Eleutherus, the then bishop of Rome, pleading 
on behalf of the peace of the Churches. From the last phrase 
it has been very commonly inferred that these letters were an 
unsuccessful attempt to avert the schism which actually took 

* (ptpovrai Se teal al TOVTUV ipuval TT\r)KTiKuiTepov Kadairro/J.ei'uv TOV BiKTOpos. 
(Euseb. H. E. v. 24.) 

1 1 consider that it was this way of testing prophets which is forbidden in the 
Dldache, xi. 7 : irdvra. Ttpo<pT)Tnv \a\ovvra iv irj/eu/uorj ov veipafferf ovSt SiaKpivflre- 
Kaffa yap a^aprta a^Qi\aerai, afrrrj 5 ^ a/ta/m'a oinc afpfB^fffTai. To offer the 
indignity of exorcism to one really inspired of God's Spirit might naturally be 
regarded as a sin against the Holy Ghost. 


place, and that they had pleaded for the retention of the 
Montanists in the Church, by either acknowledging the in- 
spiration of their prophets, or at least leaving that an open 
question. But I cannot believe that Eusebius would have 
characterized such advice as pious and orthodox ; for a little 
later (c. 14) he describes these Montanist prophets as poi- 
sonous serpents sent against the Church by the devil, the 
hater of all good, who was determined to leave no form of 
injury untried. And I conceive the object of the letter to 
Eleutherus to have been to impress on him the propriety of 
not going behind the judgment passed on these pretenders 
by the bishops on the spot, since any contrary course would 
be a breach of the ' peace of the Churches.' 

In the third century the importance of the bishop of 
Rome increases ; yet even so late as the episcopate of Cal- 
listus (A. D. 217-222), it seems to me that it still depends on 
his being able to speak in the name of his Church. Hippo- 
lytus, who was an adversary of Callistus, reproaches him 
(Ref. Haer. ix. 12) for the laxity of his discipline. There is 
every reason to think that this was the same prelate whose 
decision, that persons excommunicated on account of adultery 
might be admitted to penance and restoration, gave rise to 
Tertullian's treatise, De Pudicitia, in which the rigorist view 
is strongly maintained, that such persons ought never in this 
life to be readmitted to the Church. It used to be thought 
that Zephyrinus was the bishop in question ; but the only 
ground for that opinion was a mistaken belief that the life, 
or at least the literary activity, of Tertullian had not con- 
tinued beyond his episcopate. The De Pudicitta belongs to 
the latest period of Tertullian's life, in which he had come to 
formal separation from the Church. Hippolytus gives no hint 
that the laxity of Callistus had received any sanction from 
his predecessor. 

Be this, however, as it may, what we are here concerned 
with is, that in discussing whether adulterers can be re- 
admitted to communion, Tertullian, after considering several 
other texts of Scripture, comes to the texts, * On this rock 
will I build my Church,' ' I have given thee the keys of the 


Kingdom of Heaven/ * Whatsoever thou shalt bind or loose 
on earth shall be bound or loosed in heaven.' Now, since 
at the time this tract of Tertullian was written the story that 
Clement had been ordained by Peter had come to be received 
belief at Rome, it would not have surprised me if Callistus 
had already made the claim for the bishop of Rome to be 
heir to Peter's prerogatives. But it is remarkable that while 
Tertullian altogether denies that it lies within the competence 
of the bishop of Rome to give absolution to an adulterer, his 
whole argument shows plainly that no claim of the kind had 
been made for the bishop personally, but only for his Church, 
or rather for every Church which could claim like relation- 
ship with Peter (' ad omnem ecclesiam Petri propinquam '). 
If a personal claim had been made for the bishop, Tertullian 
would completely play into his adversary's hands ; for what 
he takes pains to maintain is, that the powers described in 
the verses in St. Matthew were not conferred on the Church, 
but on Peter personally (see p. 335). The absence of any 
claim for the bishop is so striking, that two learned Roman 
Catholics (Cardinal Orsi and Morcelli) have refused to believe 
that Tertullian's controversy was with a bishop of Rome at 
all. It must have been a bishop of Carthage. If he was ad- 
dressing a bishop of Rome, argues Orsi, Tertullian would not 
have said, 'Thou imaginest that to thee also, that is to every 
Church united with Peter, this power has been committed/ 
but he would have said, ' To thee who boastest that thou dost 
sit on the seat of Peter, and to thy Church founded by him.' 
But since Tertullian sarcastically calls his adversary ' Pontifex 
Maximus/ and, ' Episcopus Episcoporum/ it cannot well be 
doubted that he had a bishop of Rome in view ; and Orsi's 
argument simply proves that the bishop of Rome in the days 
of Tertullian had not made the claims which were afterwards 
advanced by his successors. 

In this controversy we are disposed to sympathize with 
the clemency of Callistus rather than with the rigour of his 
critics, Tertullian and Hippolytus. But since I have spoken 
of the controversy between Callistus and Hippolytus, I must 
tell you all that is known about it, although the case is not 
one on which I lay stress, in a controversial point of view; for 


I take the side of the bishop of Rome against his assailant. 
The story is an interesting one;. and as it has only compa- 
ratively recently come to light, so that it is not to be found 
in the older text-books, it is fitting that I should give you 
some account of it. A book known as the Philosophumena 
had been long included among the works of Origen, though 
learned men had given reasons for thinking that Origen could 
not have been really the author. It was but the introduction 
to a larger work, the greater part of which has been since 
recovered in a MS. brought from Mount Athos to Paris, and 
published at Oxford in 1851, still under the name of Origen's 
Philosophumena. On the publication of the whole, however, 
it became abundantly plain that the work was not Origen's, 
for the author appears to claim to be a bishop, and also to 
have taken a leading part in the affairs of the Church of 
Rome. The almost unanimous opinion of the learned 
(whether Roman Catholic, Church of England, or Rational- 
istic) is, that the book, whose proper title is a ' Refutation of all 
Heresies/ is the work of Hippolytus, who has been honoured 
as a saint, and who had been known as one of the most 
learned members of the Church of Rome between 200 and 
235. There are still one or two learned men who do not think 
the authorship fully proved ; but I have examined the ques- 
tion myself, and consider that it is beyond all doubt. Among 
the heresies refuted in this book is one which denied the dis- 
tinct personality of the Father and the Son, so that these were 
said to be merely different names given to the same divine 
being, according as he existed in different relations or different 
ways of manifestation. Hence its promoters have been called 
Patripassians, the consequence having been deduced from their 
teaching (whether they themselves expressly asserted it or not), 
that it was the Father who suffered on the Cross. It was nearly 
the same heresy as that which afterwards became notorious 
under the name of Sabellianism. We learn from Hippolytus's 
contemporary, Tertullian, that Praxeas, who introduced this 
heresy at Rome, had also made himself conspicuous by his 
opposition to Montanism, and so, probably by his admitted 
orthodoxy on one point, gained a more indulgent hearing for 
his erroneous teaching on another. This newly-discovered 


writing, in refuting the Patripassian doctrine, stigmatizes as 
patrons of that heresy Zephyrinus and Callistus, who occupied 
the see of Rome between 202 and 223, who had always 
hitherto held an unblemished reputation in the Church, and 
are entered in the Roman breviary as martyrs. Zephyrinus 
is dealt with with comparative gentleness. He is described 
as an illiterate and covetous man, very much under the 
influence of Callistus, and partly inveigled, partly corrupted, 
by him to give his episcopal patronage to the Noetians. But 
with Callistus no terms are kept. He is said to have been 
originally a slave of an influential Christian in Caesar's 
household. Under his master's patronage he set up as a 
banker, and was entrusted with large deposits by the widows 
and brethren. These Callistus embezzled, and became bank- 
rupt. He attempted to run away, but was overtaken, and, 
failing in an attempt to commit suicide, was brought back, 
and sent by his master to the pistrmum. After a time he was 
released, on the intercession of some who thought that if he 
were set free he might discover the embezzled money. But 
this he could not do, and being watched, and unable to run 
away again, he devised a desperate plan to restore his credit 
among the Christians. He went into the Jewish synagogue, 
and disturbed their worship, for which he was beaten, and 
brought before the prefect. His master hastened to the 
tribunal, and begged the prefect not to believe that he was 
a Christian, as he was only seeking an occasion of death, 
having embezzled much money ; but this was thought a mere 
subterfuge for the extrication of the accused, and Callistus 
was scourged, and sent to the mines in Sardinia. Some time 
after, Marcia, the favourite concubine of the Emperor Corn- 
modus, who had strong sympathies with the Christians, the 
eunuch who brought her up being a Christian priest, was able 
to obtain an order for the release of the Christians in these 
mines, and applied to Pope Victor for their names. But he, 
knowing the circumstances, did not include the name of 
Callistus in the list. However, Callistus so earnestly wept 
and besought the bearer of the release, that the latter, being 
a kind-hearted man, took the responsibility of adding the 

2 c 


name of Callistus to the list. Victor, we are told, was dis- 
tressed at the return of Callistus, but contented himself with 
banishing him to Antium. After Victor's death, Callistus suc- 
ceeded in ingratiating himself with his successor, Zephyrinus; 
and in the Patripassian disputes, he tried to gain the favour 
of both parties, with the orthodox professing orthodoxy, and 
with the Noetians, Noetianism. He ultimately devised a new 
theory, by which he endeavoured to make a compromise, and 
steer a middle course between the teaching of Hippolytus 
and that of his Patripassian opponent; on one occasion 
accusing Hippolytus of Ditheism. Our author further 
accuses Callistus of undue laxity in his moral discipline, 
in giving an easy absolution to sinners who had been cast 
out of the Church by others some of them by Hippolytus 
himself; in admitting digamists and trigamists to the ranks 
of the clergy; in his allowing clergy to marry, and treating 
their doing so as a matter between God and their own con- 
sciences ; in allowing Christian ladies to take to themselves, 
if they so desired, consorts of a lower rank, with whom they 
could not contract a legal marriage. 

You may guess what a sensation was produced by the 
discovery of a work seemingly so damaging to the credit of 
two Roman bishops. Bishop Wordsworth of Lincoln, who 
published separately this part of the newly-discovered work, 
believes every word that Hippolytus says to the discredit 
of the Popes. And he cannot be much blamed for doing so ; 
for Hippolytus has always been honoured as a saint and a 
martyr, and the honour must have been given him from 
nearly his own time ; for there is in existence a statue of 
him, which is proved to be nearly contemporary by its hav- 
ing engraved on it the cycle which Hippolytus invented in 
order to find the time of Easter. Now that cycle was an 
erroneous one, and its error could not but be discovered after 
using it for a dozen years. We may conclude, therefore, 
that the time when it was engraved in perpetual honour of 
Hippolytus was before the error was discovered; that is to 
say before A.D. 240. If we accept the testimony of Hippo- 
lytus, it would follow that two bishops of Rome were not 


only men of indifferent moral character, but that they fell 
into heresy on a primary article of the Christian faith. Dr. 
Newman, on the other hand, was so shocked at this libel on 
Roman bishops, that he declared nothing would persuade 
him it could be the work of the saint and martyr Hippolytus. 
But a far better defence of the credit of the Roman see was 
made by von Dollinger, at that time in full credit as an able 
champion of the Roman Catholic Church. His work, Hip- 
polytus and CallishiSy has been translated into English (1876), 
and I do not know a more interesting and instructive work 
on early Church history. 

Dollinger points out that though in this work Hippolytus 
claims to be a bishop, and is recognized as a bishop by early 
authorities, yet that the name of his see is not mentioned by 
them ; and some of them expressly declare their ignorance 
of it. The statement that he was bishop of Portus (near 
Rome), though generally accepted, rests on comparatively 
late and untrustworthy authorities. A number of Greek MSS., 
which cite passages from his writings, describe him as bishop 
of Rome. Further, in this work Hippolytus never ascribes 
the title of bishop to Callistus ; and he speaks of him as 
having only seemed to obtain the dignity he aimed at. 
Dollinger's inference is, that the dissensions at Rome pro- 
ceeded to such a length that they came to formal schism, 
Hippolytus being the bishop of the ultra-orthodox minority, 
and Callistus the one accepted by the majority of the Roman 

This theory gives an excellent explanation of all the phe- 
nomena presented by the treatise against heresies which we 
are discussing ; but it is attended by the very grave difficulty 
that this, which would seem to have been one of the earliest 
schisms in the Roman see, seems to have been absolutely 
unknown to the rest of the Christian world ; and that although 
the leader of one of the parties was that member of the Ro- 
man Church who was best known elsewhere for his learning 
and his literary activity. If Dollinger's hypothesis be well 
founded, it follows that Christians in the third century so far 
from regarding the bishop of Rome as their master and 

2 c 2 


teacher, regarded the question, who was bishop of Rome, as 
one merely of local interest, and troubled themselves little to 
inquire who the bishop of Rome was. Rival bishops might 
claim the see for years, and one of them not an obscure 
person, but the leading divine in the Roman Church of his 
day, and yet the schism not leave a trace in Church history, 
and, as far as we can learn, not a single Eastern Christian 
have heard of its existence. 

Taking this view, however, the impeachment of the 
orthodoxy of the Roman bishops is at once disarmed. 
Instead of believing on the word of Hippolytus that the 
Roman bishops who differed with him were heretics, we 
may question whether it was not he himself who was in 
the wrong, whether in his zeal against those who con- 
founded the Persons of the Father and the Son, he did not 
use such indiscreet language as to lay himself fairly open 
to the charge of Ditheism : that is to say, whether he did not 
so separate their substances as to seem to teach Christians 
to worship two distinct Gods. It is still easier to defend 
the disciplinary regulations of the Roman bishops, for the 
indulgence which characterized the practice of Callistus is 
more in accordance both with our own ideas, and with the 
practice of the Church since his time, than the unforgiving 
strictness of Hippolytus. And as for the charges of immo- 
rality, we are not bound to take as Gospel truth everything 
that is alleged by a witness so bitter and evidently prejudiced 
as Hippolytus. He clearly puts the worst construction on all 
the facts of the life of Callistus. Did he become bankrupt, it 
was because he had embezzled the funds entrusted to him. 
Did he get into trouble by his Christian zeal, it was because 
of his crimes, and because being unable to commit suicide, 
he was anxious for an occasion of death. And so on. 

On the whole I consider that Dollinger has made out so 
good a case, that I am willing to acquit Zephyrinus and 
Callistus of the charge of heresy ; though, as I have pointed 
out, the theory obliges us to set very low the influence ex- 
erted by the Roman Church on the rest of the Christian 
world at the beginning of the third century. 



AT the conclusion of the last Lecture I told you of von 
Dollinger's theory that Hippolytus was an antipope, 
claiming in opposition to Callistus the dignity of bishop of 
Rome. This suggests a point in the controversy which 
ought not to be omitted, and on which, therefore, I will say 
something before going further. Supposing it to be proved 
that in order to avoid all risk of going wrong, Christ had 
given to His followers this compendious rule to guard them 
from error ' Adhere to the bishop of Rome,' still even this 
simple rule has its uncertainties, for we have first to deter- 
mine who the bishop of Rome is. Now, in all the time 
between the third century and the Reformation not a cen- 
tury has passed in which there has not been a schism in the 
Church on this very point, Christians being perplexed be- 
tween the contending claims of different pretenders to the 
Roman see. 

I have said something as to what possibly may have been 
one of the earliest of these schisms ; I will now say some- 
thing as to what is commonly counted the twenty-ninth ; not 
the last, but the greatest and most memorable for its dura- 
tion, its extent, and its damaging effects on the papal claims. 
I mean what is commonly called the great Western schism, 
which began in 1378, on the death of Pope Gregory XI. It 
lasted nearly forty years, during which time two or more popes 
disputed with each other the honour of being the rightful 
successor of St. Peter ; and the claims of the contending 
parties were so evenly balanced that the nations of Western 
Christendom were tolerably equally divided between them. 


Very respectable Roman Catholic writers have maintained 
that it is still impossible to decide with certainty which party 
was in the right saints working miracles being numbered 
among the adherents of either pontiff and finally (I quote 
from the Jesuit Maimbourg), even a General Council, which 
had the aid of the Holy Ghost to enable them to decide 
infallibly, did not venture to solve the question, and had 
recourse to its authority instead of availing itself of its know- 
ledge,* that is to say, instead of informing the Christian world 
which of the popes was the true one, the Council, by virtue 
of its authority, deposed them all, and set up a new pope of 
its own. 

I must assume that you have a general knowledge of the 
facts of the case, and will recall to your memory that the 
death of Gregory XI. was the termination of what has been 
called the Babylonish Captivity, namely, the seventy years' 
residence of the French popes at Avignon. It is certain 
that the temporal interests of the city of Rome suffered 
greatly from the absence of its spiritual head. The Roman 
magistrates complained that the faithful were no longer 
attracted to Rome either by devotion or interest ; that there 
was danger lest the unfortunate city should be reduced to 
a vast solitude ; the sacred edifices left without roof, gates, 
or walls ; the abode of beasts, which cropped the grass off 
their very altars. Accordingly, the death of Gregory XI.,f 
and the election of his successor taking place at Rome ; 
although the Cardinals, being French, would undoubtedly, 
if they had free choice, have elected a French successor, they 
were surrounded by a violent mob, threatening to tear them 
in pieces and set the house on fire over their heads if they 
elected a foreign pope; and although they had at first pro- 
tested that an election constrained by violence would not 

* Histoire du grand schisme d" Occident, p. 3. 

t He had come to Rome chiefly on the persuasion of Catherine of Siena, a saint 
remarkable for having had the marks of the Saviour's wounds imprinted on her body, 
as well as for having had an espousal ring with four pearls and a diamond, placed 
permanently on her finger by our Lord Himself; although, to spare her modesty, 
these honours were invisible to all eyes but her own (Holland, AA. SS., April 30, 
pp. 882, 901). 


give a real pope but an intruder, yet ultimately they gave 
way, elected an Italian Pope, Urban VI., notified his election 
as usual to the Courts of Europe, and did not set up the plea 
of constraint until Urban had showed himself troublesome 
in the character of reformer of abuses. Then they made a 
unanimous secession ; declared that they had only chosen 
Urban in the persuasion that he would in conscience have 
refused the pontificate, his election to which was only due to 
violence. 'But he, forgetful of his salvation, and burning 
with ambition, had allowed himself to be enthroned and 
crowned ; and assumed the name of pope, though he rather 
merited that of apostate and antichrist.' And so they set up 
a French pope, Clement VII. 

Now, the schism thus begun lasted longer than what is 
commonly called a generation of men. A Christian who was 
of an age to form an opinion on the subject, say twenty-five 
years of age, when the schism began, might have died in 
mature age before it was finished : all the time he might have 
used more care in trying to choose the right pope than most 
men now spend in choosing the right doctrine ; he might 
have followed the opinion supported by his nation, and 
backed by a considerable number of men in high esteem 
for learning and piety ; and yet some hundred years after 
his death it might be discovered that in spite of all his 
care he had decided wrongly, and had wandered from the 
true fold out of which there is no salvation. 

It is true that high Roman Catholic authority can be 
adduced in support of the opinion that either pope might 
safely be followed ; a charitable opinion certainly, but one 
which can hardly be consistently maintained. For if Christ 
has given His Church an infallible guide to truth, it surely 
must be held to be no small sin to forsake that guide and 
follow an impostor, more especially when the true guide 
distinctly declares that those who adhere to the impostor 
hazard their eternal salvation. This can certainly be proved 
by contemporary evidence, that whatever may be said now, 
Christians at the time were held bound to decide the question 
rightly, as they valued their eternal salvation. In order to 


prove this I took the trouble to copy some of the curses 
denounced by each pope against the adherents of the other ; 
but I have not time to read them. Suffice it to say that the 
two popes were in perfect agreement in informing the Chris- 
tian world that this was a matter in which a wrong choice 
would endanger a man's eternal salvation.* 

Remember that the main argument for the existence of 
an infallible guide to the Church is that it is inconceivable 
God could have left Christians exposed to the risk of error in 
any matter concerning their eternal salvation. But here we 
see that the institution of the office of Pope does not preserve 
Christians from such risk of error; that on the contrary 
Christians were left for several years together perplexed 
between the claims of two popes, in favour of each of whom 
so much might be said, and each of whom uttered the most 
frightful curses against the other and his adherents ; and one 
of the two must have been the real pope, and his curses have 
had all the efficacy which papal dignity can give. One or other 
of the two was the infallible guide to Christians, and both 
agreed that this was a matter on which to decide wrongly 

* The following is an extract from a circular issued by the cardinals (see Baluzius, 
VitaePontt. A-ven. ii. 847) : ' Having been appointed watchmen by the Lord God of 
Hosts, and occupying the highest post next after the Roman Pontiff, we are bound 
vigilantly to point out to the faithful the dangers which threaten their souls, and the 
snares and attacks of the enemy. Whereas, therefore, we have learned for certain 
that that seducer, Bartholomew, formerly Archbishop of Bari, falsely calling himself 
Pope, has, as another Antichrist, sent certain false prophets to different parts of the 
world, whom he alone has constituted Cardinals, together with some other defenders 
of his wickedness, in order that by false persuasions, and crafty suggestions, they 
may seduce the Christian people, and may cause them, to the eternal damnation of 
their souls, to adhere to the aforesaid apostate ; and whereas, on this account, our 
most holy Lord Pope Clement VII. has desired us, who have perfect knowledge of 
this matter, to instruct the faithful concerning it ; and whereas it pertains to none 
others than us, next after our most holy Lord Pope Clement VII., to inform the 
faithful who is the true Pope, therefore, we beseech you all, in Jesus Christ, for the 
safety of your souls to adhere to the same Lord Clement, &c.' 

Here it is taught plainly enough that the adherents of Urban perilled their salva- 
tion ; and there certainly is great show of reason in what the cardinals say, viz. that 
if any doubt should arise as to who the true pope was, no one could be fitter than the 
cardinals (who are the next highest authority to the pope) to decide it. 

Urban's counter proclamation, which is too long to be quoted in full, will 
be found in Raynaldus's continuation of Baronius (An. 1378). He denounces 


would peril a Christian's eternal salvation. The question 
was an eminently practical one, for if a man happened to be 
the subject of a monarch who had taken the wrong side, 
he was released from his allegiance, and incurred the 
penalty of excommunication if he rendered assistance to 
his sovereign. 

And yet this is a point on which high Roman Catholic 
authority now holds that both popes were wrong. Maimbourg 
(p. 57) tells us 'the thunderbolts and the anathemas which the 
two popes hurled against each other, and against all those 
who followed the opposite party, did no harm to anybody.' 
Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, who was canonized as 
a saint in 1523, writes as follows: 'There were among the 
adherents of either party, all the time the schism lasted, most 
learned men and most religious, and what is more, even dis- 
tinguished by their miracles ; and the question could never be 
so decided, but that there remained a doubt with very many. 
And though it be necessary to salvation to believe that there 
is but one vicar of Christ, yet on the occasion of a schism, 
when several are called popes, it does not appear necessary 

those children of iniquity and perdition, Robert (i.e. Clement VII.), and the other 
cardinals, who had not only involved themselves in the bonds of sin, but being given 
over to a reprobate mind, have endeavoured to draw others with them to destruction. 
He declares that being unable, without grievous remorse of conscience, any longer to 
tolerate such wickedness, he pronounces that Robert, &c., are schismatics, apostates, 
blasphemers, and are to be punished as heretics : he excommunicates them, deprives 
them of all their dignities, confiscates all their goods, declares their persons detest- 
able and infamous, and orders them to be kept by the faithful in close prison. Any- 
one who should commit their bodies to ecclesiastical sepulture is excommunicated, 
and can only be absolved on condition of disinterring them with his own hands. 
Everyone of whatever rank, king, queen, emperor, or cardinal, is forbidden to receive 
these excommunieated persons into his lands, or to allow them to be supplied with 
any grain, wine, flesh, clothes, wood, victuals, money, merchandize, or any goods 
whatsoever. Every private person is excommunicated who shall transgress any of 
the aforesaid commands, or who shall knowingly call the aforesaid Robert (styling 
himself Clement) by the name of Pope, or who shall believe him to be Pope, from 
which excommunication he is not to be freed by any but the Roman Pontiff, except 
in the article of death. He releases the subjects of the princes who adhere to his 
rival, from obedience to their monarchs ; and he offers to all those who shall under- 
take a crusade for the extermination of the aforesaid schismatics, and who shall per- 
secute them to the utmost of their power, the privileges and indulgences granted to- 
those who proceed to the succour of the Holy Land. 


to salvation to believe that this or that is the true pope, but 
only whichever of the two was canonically elected, and no 
one is bound to know who was canonically elected any more 
than he is bound to be acquainted with the canon law ; but 
the people may follow their princes and prelates/ 

In short, provided you believe there is a pope somewhere 
or other, it is quite unnecessary to know who he is, and you 
may be quite safe though you adhere to a false pope, and 
though the true pope be cursing you as hard as he can all 
the time. Suppose that in Switzerland you had some doubt 
whether an incompetent guide had not imposed on you by a 
false certificate, what would you think if, on inquiring at the 
office for guides, you were told that it was certainly abso- 
lutely necessary for you to have the authorized guide, but 
that if you had duly paid your fee at the office it was quite 
immaterial whether you had got hold of the right man or 
not ? In whose interests would you suppose such a regula- 
tion to have been framed ? If it is asserted then that it is 
inconceivable that God could leave His Church without some 
guide able to lead her infallibly into truth, we may answer 
that it is just as necessary that God should make men know 
who that infallible guide is, and that it is indelibly written 
in the page of history that God did leave the Church for a 
space of several years in a state in which it was next to 
impossible to determine who that infallible guide was. And 
it avails nothing to say that this was 500 years ago, for we 
cannot suppose that God dealt with His Church by different 
rules in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries and in the nine- 
teenth. The souls of Christians then were as dear to Him as 
the souls of Christians now, and it cannot be said that any- 
thing is essential to the being of the Church which God did 
not see fit to give her then. 

Before parting with the case of Hippolytus, I have 
another remark to make on the ignorance of the Eastern 
world on the subject of his pretensions to be bishop of Rome. 
If he never made the claim, how came so many in the East 
to call him bishop of Rome ? If he did, how was it that no 
one in the East should have heard that the see was contested 


by two rivals r I must add it, therefore, as a further proof 
that the bishop of Rome was not recognized as head over the 
whole Church, that the appointment of that bishop was from 
early times, and in theory down to the present day, a matter 
of mere local concern. In early times the election rested at 
Rome, as elsewhere, with the clergy and people. They did 
not think of their bishop then as the infallible interpreter of 
doctrine, but as the administrator of the funds in which that 
Church was very rich ; and, accordingly, when they wanted 
a bishop they did not look for a learned divine, but for a 
good man of business. Most commonly the choice fell on 
the archdeacon, who was habitually the bishop's prime 
minister. So regular was this, that a story is told, though I 
own on not very trustworthy authority, that in one remark- 
able case, the bishop finding the archdeacon to be a man 
whom he would not like for a successor, was spiteful enough 
to spoil his chance by ordaining him priest.* In theory, the 
bishop is at the present day appointed by the local clergy; 
for the cardinals are the bishops of the six suburbican sees,f 
the Roman deacons, and the parish priests of the dif- 
ferent Roman parishes. In fact, the cardinals are leading 
Roman Catholic divines of different European countries, 
and the majority of them do not reside at Rome, and have 
only a titular connexion with certain Roman parishes. If 
the bishop of Rome is head of the whole Church, it is quite 
right that representatives of the whole Church should take 
part in his appointment. But the titles of the cardinals are 
a standing witness to the present day that the pope is but 
bishop of a single city, and that his appointment was a 
matter with which persons outside that city were not sup- 
posed to have any concern. 

I return now to carry a little further down the history of 
the Roman claims. In the last Lecture we found that up to 

* This story is told about Cornelius and Novatian by Eulogius of Alexandria 
(Photius, Cod. 182). 

t These sees had been seven : Portus, Ostia, Prseneste, Sabina, Tusculum, Albano, 
and St. Rufina ; but the last has, for many centuries, ceased to exist as a separate 
see. On the other hand, the Roman deacons, who for many centuries had been only 
seven, are now reckoned as fourteen. 


the end of the second century the importance of the bishop 
of Rome is subordinate to that of the Church of Rome. Just 
at the end of that century the Clementine fictions were 
brought to Rome, and it is not till then we hear anything 
of the succession from St. Peter. 

Now, when you see Patristic evidence produced in proof 
of papal Supremacy, you must be always careful to examine 
who it is that is cited. I have not now in my mind merely 
that ordinary caution which distinguishes the scientific from 
the controversial use of authorities. With Romish contro- 
versialists of the less instructed sort the pre-scientific use of 
authorities still prevails. With them a Father is a Father. 
If they can find, in any of those to whom that name is given, 
words resembling some assertion which they wish to have 
believed, his name is clapped into a list of witnesses (which 
sometimes they print in capital letters) all seemingly counted 
of equal value. Such a list, however imposing it may appear 
to th unlearned, is only glanced at with contempt by one 
who understands the subject, and who knows that some of 
the writers cited say nothing really relevant to the question 
on which they are appealed to, and that others are persons 
whose unsupported statements have no weight. For, with 
increased knowledge of ancient documents, we are now able 
in many cases to compare the statements of Fathers with the 
sources whence they derived them, and in this way to form a 
judgment how far the reporters are trustworthy. And the 
result is that, as might have been expected, the Fathers are in 
this respect found to be men of very unequal merit ; and the 
historical student is forced to discriminate, building nothing 
with any confidence on the assertions of some, who are ha- 
bitually wanting in that care and caution which we find in 

But the point which I now wish to urge is the necessity 
of discriminating authorities geographically ; for the geo- 
graphical test is as effective as the chronological in showing 
that the notion of the Petrine supremacy is a development 
and not a tradition. Whatever doctrines were delivered to 
the Church by our Lord and His apostles, must have been 


held by the Church at all times and in all places. Now, it is 
owned that the doctrine of Roman Supremacy was not held 
by the Church in all times ; for it has to be confessed, as 
Newman does in passages which I have quoted, that such a 
form of Church government was altogether unsuited to the 
condition of the Church in the first ages. But we argue 
further that if our Lord had put His disciples under the 
government of a single head, Christian missionaries wher- 
ever they went would have carried with them the knowledge 
who their appointed ruler was, and would have taught the 
Churches which they founded to obey him. There would 
have been no difference between East and West as to the 
meaning of the texts which settled the constitution of the 
universal Church. The teaching of the Church on this point 
would have been in all places the same ; for this is not a 
subordinate doctrine, a true tradition concerning which might 
conceivably have been lost. The doctrine is a fundamental 
one, and those who had ever known and received it. must 
have kept up the memory of it by perpetual practical 
application of it. 

What we actually find is very different. The Gospel, you 
know, contains a system of truths first promulgated at 
Jerusalem, and which starting from that centre have been 
propagated all over the civilized world. Now, nothing is 
more certain than that the notion of Roman supremacy did 
not start from Jerusalem as its centre, but from Rome as its 
centre. In tracing the history of the growth of the empire 
of heathen Rome, we find the city first battling with the 
neighbouring Italian towns; then, when it had established 
its dominion in Italy, crossing the sea, and making conquests 
in foreign countries. At length its expansive power reaches 
its limits : it gains some temporary victories in Parthia and 
Germany, but never makes a permanent conquest of these 
countries. In like manner, in tracing the history of the 
growth of the ecclesiastical empire of Rome, we find that 
the movement began at Rome itself; that it was at first 
resisted in its own immediate neighbourhood ; that by de- 
grees it triumphed over that opposition, and extended itself 


over all the West. But in the East, though it occasionally 
gained temporary victories, their fruits were always short- 
lived ; and ultimately the attempt to bring the East under 
the dominion of Rome utterly failed. 

Bearing all this in mind, you will see the necessity, when 
any ancient writer is quoted as asserting the right of the 
bishop of Rome to rule over other Churches, of inquiring 
who it is that says it. I might tell you, for example, that 
several eminent authors assert that Paris is the capital of the 
civilized world, the centre of European thought and culture. 
But you would smile at me if, when asked who these eminent 
authors were, I had to reply Victor Hugo, Comte, and other 
enthusiastic Frenchmen. In like manner we can but smile 
when Romish divines, who have undertaken to adduce evi- 
dence in proof of the papal claims, tender to us the assertions 
of popes, or of papal legates, or of Roman presbyters. Such 
evidence is only good to show what Rome would like to have 
believed, but determines nothing as to what really was by 
Christ's appointment the constitution of His Church. 

It is much more to the purpose when they adduce Eastern 
evidence ; but such evidence always turns out to be, not 
spontaneous acknowledgment of the justice of the Roman 
demands, but temporary acquiescence in them by persons at 
the moment badly in want of Roman assistance. For the 
cause of Rome was greatly helped by Eastern divisions. 
Arianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, were all Eastern 
questions ; nor did the Western mind of that age appear to 
possess the subtlety necessary for the originating such dis- 
putes. Neither, again, was the Latin language adequate to 
express all the subtle distinctions and shades of thought for 
which the copiousness and flexibility of the Greek tongue 
easily found expression. But each of the contending parties 
in the East was always glad to get the West on its side ; 
and the party successful in this endeavour could not afford 
to be critical if there was too much arrogance in the tone 
which their Roman supporters adopted. Thus the Easterns 
were in danger of finding the fable realized of the horse tri- 
umphing over the stag by the assistance of the man, and 


finding when his victory was won that he had permanently 
a rider on his back. Actually, however, they shook the rider 
off after he had served their temporary ends. For though in 
politics a party, not the strongest, will sometimes succeed in 
attaining its ends through the alternate assistance given it 
by two other rival parties bidding against each other for its 
support, yet it loses its advantage if it demands more than 
either of the rivals will grant. The Romans demanded more 
than any Eastern would concede, and so there ensued that 
schism between East and West which continues to the 
present day. 

The earliest bishop of Rome whom I can find to have 
claimed privileges as Peter's successor was Stephen in his 
controversy with Cyprian, about A.D. 256, at which time the 
story told in the Clementines had had some fifty years of 
acceptance at Rome. I have already (p. 143) quoted some 
of Cyprian's language, from which you will have seen that 
though he did not dispute the assertion that Stephen sat in 
the chair of Peter, he did not by any means regard the 
bishop of Rome as the Church's infallible guide, nor even 
as a competent witness to apostolic tradition if his testimony 
seemed to conflict with what was found in the written word. 

Now, Roman Catholics may say that in the controversy 
as to the validity of heretical baptism, Stephen was right 
and Cyprian wrong. I do not know whether they are quite 
consistent in saying so ; for of late years, I suppose in order 
to frighten waverers, they have taken to the profanity of 
reiterating baptism in the case of perverts from our com- 
munion ; a profanity only partially mitigated by the device 
of conditional baptism, which was not invented until some 
centuries after the time of Stephen and Cyprian. Nor shall 
I inquire whether Stephen, in his acknowledgment of here- 
tical baptism, was not more indiscriminate than the Church 
was afterwards, which always has been careful to distinguish 
between different classes of heretics, and to examine whether 
the baptisms which it acknowledges have been duly made 
in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.* But for my 

* See the 8th Canon of the Council of Aries. 


present purpose it is quite irrelevant to discuss whether 
Stephen or Cyprian was right. If I were to propose the 
question to you whether in their parliamentary disputes Mr. 
Gladstone or Mr. D'Israeli had been in the right, I dare say 
you would be far from unanimous in your answer. But if I 
asked whether Mr. Gladstone acknowledged Mr. D'Israeli as 
an infallible authority or vice versa, you could be unanimous 
in answering that question. We may be as willing to do 
honour to the memory of both Stephen and Cyprian as 
Walter Scott, in the introduction to Marmion, was to the 
memory of both Pitt and Fox. But certain it is that Cyprian 
showed that he felt himself as little bound to follow the 
ruling of Stephen as Fox was to follow the ruling of Pitt. 
If the dispute about the validity of heretical baptism had not 
been quelled by a timely persecution, there was danger that 
it might have caused a serious schism in the Church. Cyprian 
was not only unanimously supported by a council of eighty- 
seven African bishops, but he had enthusiastic allies in the 
East.* Chief of these was Firmilian of Cappadocia, at that 
time one of the most illustrious of Eastern bishops. There 
is extant a Latin translation of Firmilian's letter to Cyprian ; 
and we need not doubt that the translation was made by 
Cyprian himself, though some of the first editors of Cyprian's 
works were minded to suppress the letter altogether on ac- 
count of the great disrespect with which he treats the bishop 
of Rome. Certainly it is not surprising that Roman Catholics 
should have found matter of offence in Firmilian's letter. He 
begins by congratulating himself that through Stephen's 
' inhumanity ' (in breaking communion with those who 
re-baptized converts from heresy) he had had experimental 
proof of Cyprian's faith and wisdom. But, he adds, that 
for this benefit resulting to him from Stephen's conduct, 
Stephen himself was no more entitled to gratitude than 
Judas Iscariot was entitled to our gratitude for the benefits 
which resulted to the world from his treason to our Lord. 
This is pretty strong to begin with ; and he follows up with 
charges of * audacia,' * insolentia,' * imperitia,' ' aperta et 

* On the part taken by Dionysius of Alexandria, see Euseb. //. E. vii. 5, sqq. 


manifesta stultitia' : Stephen is 'haereticis omnibus pejor' : 
* was not Stephen ashamed to say this;' 'he had the impudence 
(ausus est) to say that ;' ' he defamed Peter and Paul by the 
sentiments which he attributed to them.' But Stephen appears 
to have given much occasion for this asperity of language ; 
for Firmilian quotes him as having called Cyprian 'false 
Christ, false apostle, deceitful worker.' We must regret that 
men for whom we feel so much respect should have treated 
each other with so little ; but the reason for producing these 
controversial amenities is that Firmilian tells us that Stephen 
had boasted of his succession from Peter : ' de Episcopatus 
sui loco gloriatur et se successionem Petri tenere contendit,' 
* per successionem cathedram Petri se tenere praedicat.' 
What privileges exactly Stephen claimed on the strength 
of this succession we are not informed ; but both his an- 
tagonists treat the connexion with Peter and Paul as only 
aggravating his fault if he does not harmonize with them 
in doctrine. Other evidence of the arrogance of Stephen's 
claims is suggested by Cyprian's language in addressing his 
African council : ' None of us sets himself up as a bishop of 
bishops, or by tyrannical terror forces his colleagues to a 
necessity of obeying ; inasmuch as every bishop, in the free 
use of his liberty and power, has the right of forming his 
own judgment, and can no more be judged by another than 
he can himself judge another.' 

The result is that we may name the episcopate of Stephen 
as the time, when out of the fiction that Peter had been 
bishop of Rome, his supposed successors began to develop 
the consequence that they had a right to rule other bishops ; 
but we find that this development was at the time not only 
scouted in the East, but was violently resisted in the neigh- 
bouring province of Africa. 

A somewhat earlier incident in Stephen's history will 
show how far the supremacy of the pope was from being then 
established. Two Spanish bishops, Basilides and Martial, 
had denied Christ in time of persecution, and had therefore 
been deposed by their brethren, and two others, Felix and 
Sabinus, consecrated in their stead. Basilides, however, 

2 D 


went to Rome, and there obtained recognition as bishop 
from Stephen. The clergy and people of the towns over 
which these men had presided sent to Cyprian, who, assem- 
bling thirty-seven bishops in Council, decided in a synodical 
letter that the deposition of Basilides and Martial was right, 
and the election of Felix and Sabinus canonical. Cyprian 
says : ' Nor can it rescind an ordination rightly performed 
that Basilides, after his crime had been detected and his 
conscience laid bare even by his own confession, canvassing 
to be unjustly restored to the episcopate from which he had 
been justly deposed, went to Rome and deceived Stephen 
our colleague residing at a distance, and ignorant of the real 
truth. The effect of this is not to efface, but to swell the 
crimes of Basilides, in that to his former guilt is now added 
the guilt of deceit and circumvention. For he is not so 
much to be blamed who through negligence was imposed on, 
as he is to be execrated who through fraud imposed on him.' 
Now, if a Roman Catholic maintains that his present Church 
system is conformed to primitive usage, let him imagine a 
parallel case happening now. Let him conceive two Spanish 
bishops deposed by their neighbours, and others elected 
in their place without consulting the pope. The deposed 
bishops appeal to Rome and are acquitted. Meanwhile the 
Spanish clergy send the intruding bishops as a deputation 
not to the pope, but let us say to the archbishop of Paris, 
who, assembling a provincial synod, decides that the former 
bishops had been rightly deposed, and the new canonically 
elected, and that * the appealing bishop had only aggravated 
his guilt by deceiving Pio Nono our colleague ; but excusing 
Pio Nono in that he is not so much to be blamed who through 
negligence was imposed on, as he who through fraud had 
imposed on him.'* 

This history shows that in the third century the Christian 
Churches formed one great community. No Church was 
completely isolated from the rest : if disputes took place in 
it their brethren elsewhere would take an interest in it, and 
would use their influence in bringing about the triumph of 

* Pusey's Eirenicon, p. 75. 


right. That the great Roman Church should possess in- 
fluence of this kind was a matter of course. But we see now 
that the possession of such influence was no exclusive pre- 
rogative of that see. Other Churches, too, claimed the right 
to make their voices heard, and had no scruple in taking a 
side opposite to that taken by the bishop of Rome. 

When the Empire became Christian it was more impos- 
sible than ever for one Church to be independent of others ; 
for certain privileges and immunities were immediately given 
to the Christian bishops and clergy ; and if there were any 
controversy as to the occupancy of any see, it was necessary 
for the civil authorities to know who was recognized by the 
Church generally as the rightful possessor. When Constan- 
tine obtained undisputed possession of power, he found a 
violent controversy raging, no less a question being involved 
than who was the rightful head of the great Church of North 
Africa ; the consecration of Caecilian as bishop of Carthage, 
having been pronounced invalid by the party which soon 
came to have Donatus as its leader. Constantine would, no 
doubt, be anxious to make himself acquainted with the rules 
established in the Christian Church for regulating the de- 
cision of such controversies ; but he never appears to have 
heard from anyone that it would suffice to get the decision 
of the bishop of Rome. On the contrary, the order of the 
steps taken in this Donatist controversy was exactly the 
reverse of what, according to later theory, it ought to have 
been. There was first a decision by the bishop of Rome ; 
then an appeal from the pope to a Council ; lastly, neither 
pope nor Council having succeeded in making a settlement, 
the matter was taken up by the Emperor personally. And 
when I say a decision by the bishop of Rome, you must not 
suppose that that prelate, great and influential as he was, 
had taken on himself on his own authority to pronounce 
judgment on the question. He interfered only as commis- 
sioned by the Emperor, and in this commission* he was not 

* It is given by Eusebius (H. E, x. 5), where also is to be found the summons to 
the Council of Aries addressed to Chrestus, bishop of Syracuse. Chrestus is therein 
authorized to demand a public conveyance, and to take with him two presbyters and 
three servants. 

2 D 2 


alone : three bishops are joined with him in it by name ; and 
actually some twenty took part in the investigation. How 
ill it would have fared with the bishop of Rome if he had 
acted alone appears from the next stage of the proceedings ; 
for the Donatists treated a Council of even twenty bishops 
(the bishop of Rome being one of them) as too small to 
overrule the decision arrived at by seventy bishops in Africa ; 
so they were granted a rehearing of the case, which took 
place before a larger body of bishops assembled at Aries. 
Even this did not prove decisive, and the case had to be 
tried once more by the Emperor himself. The whole history 
shows how completely undeveloped at that date was the 
whole idea of Papal Supremacy, even over the Western 

The course of events, however, was favourable to the 
development of Roman claims. In the Arian controversies 
which soon followed, depositions of bishops were frequent ; 
some were formally deposed for alleged heretical doctrine ; 
others were exiled, and lost their sees on charges which only 
made express mention of offences against the State, however 
much we may believe them to have been prompted by doc- 
trinal enmity. 

Now, it was in the very nature of things that a person 
who thought himself aggrieved by the action of his imme- 
diate Church superiors, should seek for sympathy and redress 
outside. The Churches in the near neighbourhood would 
naturally be first appealed to ; but what I have already told 
you of the relations of Rome with all parts of the Christian 
world ought to prepare you to expect that the intercession of 
this powerful benefactor would have prevailing influence with 
every Church, and therefore would be eagerly sought. With 
the growth at Rome of ambitious ideas there sprung up a 
desire to convert this power of friendly remonstrance into a 
legal right ; and I have now to speak of the occasion when 
the sanction of a Council was first given to the interference 
of the bishop of Rome with regard to the deposition or re- 
storation of bishops outside his immediate jurisdiction. 

In the latter half of the fourth century there were together 


at Rome two prelates, concerning whom the judgment of 
posterity has been different, both deposed by their nearer 
neighbours, both trying to enlist on their side the bishop of 
Rome. I mean Athanasius, whose name needs no expla- 
nation, and Marcellus of Ancyra, a strenuous opponent of 
the Arians, whom therefore the orthodox party were re- 
luctant to condemn, but who is now generally owned to 
have made dangerous confusion of the personalities of the 
Father and the Son. Athanasius, exiled from the Eastern 
Empire, was driven to the West. He and Marcellus each 
protested his innocence to the Roman bishop, who, on their 
instigation, wrote to their accusers, challenging them to 
come to Rome and there establish their charges ; and when, 
after a year and a half, the challenge remained unaccepted, 
Pope Julius pronounced the accused parties innocent. 

It remained to be seen what a General Council would 
think of this acquittal, and one was arranged to meet at 
Sardica. But when the Eastern representatives came thither, 
they inquired whether Athanasius and Marcellus would be 
treated as deposed, or whether they would be permitted to 
take their seats as members of the Council ; and on finding 
that the latter was intended, the Easterns separated in a body 
and held a separate Council at a place called Philippopolis ; 
so Sardica was purely a Western Council, and strongly anti- 

You will understand how important it was then in the 
interests of orthodoxy to give a right of appeal to Rome. 
The Arians were in the ascendant in the East, and when they 
got a good pretext, deposed orthodox bishops. Not long 
before, a semi-Arian Council at Antioch had made canons pro- 
hibiting all appeals beyond the Metropolitan of the province. 
It was manifestly in the interests of orthodoxy that redress 
should be obtainable from the bishop of Rome, who might 
be trusted to be on the right side. So the Council of 
Sardica decreed that if a bishop thought he had good 
reason to appeal from a provincial judgment of his case, 
he might demand a new trial, Let us, if you please, 


honour the memory of the Apostle Peter, and let him 
write to Julius, bishop of Rome, who, if he thinks fit, 
may order the case to be tried again, and appoint judges 
to try it.' You will observe that what this Council granted 
to the Bishop of Rome is much short of what has been 
claimed for him in later times. It only gives him ap- 
pellate jurisdiction in the case of a bishop who conceives 
himself to have been unjustly treated, but it gives no power 
of original jurisdiction to the Pope, no power to evoke causes 
to Rome, or set aside the judgment of Councils. And the 
power of appellate jurisdiction is shown to be not an original 
possession of the see, but one given it then for the first time. 
We shall see presently in a remarkable case that the Roman 
bishops claimed the right of appeal solely on this ground 
that a Council had bestowed it on them. The Greek Canon- 
ists, when they accepted the decrees of Sardica, held that the 
limited power of receiving appeals then granted to Rome did 
not extend to the whole Church, and that the Patriarch of 
Constantinople had equal power in his own province. I 
think myself that the Council of Sardica intended to give the 
bishop of Rome this power over the whole Church, for the 
cases at issue at the time were Eastern cases ; but it is 
obvious that this Council of Western bishops had no power 
to bind the Eastern Church or deprive them of any portion 
of their independence. The truth, however, I believe to be 
not so much that the East rejected these Sardican canons as 
that for some centuries people in the East knew nothing 
about them. That the original of the canons was Latin, not 
Greek, appears from the fact that the three oldest Latin texts 
are in strictly verbal agreement, although in the case of 
other canons, whose original is known to have been Greek, 
they give independent translations. These canons are un- 
known to all the early Greek writers who might have been 
expected to show acquaintance with them; they were not 
mentioned either at the second General Council, that of Con- 
stantinople, nor in the fourth, that of Chalcedon, although 
these Councils dealt with the same subject ; nor do the Greek 


Church Historians, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, make 
any mention of them when relating the transactions at 

As I have had occasion to speak of the Council at 
Antioch in 341, I may add a few words as to what there 
took place. You will observe that we have now got half 
way through the fourth century, and that by this time 
Roman pretensions had very much advanced. However, 
the bishop of Rome was still contending not for a right of 
deciding Eastern questions, but only for that of being con- 
sulted about them. The Council of Antioch demanded that 
the bishop of Rome should acquiesce, without further in- 
quiry, in the conclusions come to by Eastern Councils with 
regard to the deposition of certain bishops, on pain of 
excommunication himself, if he held communion with bishops 
who had been deposed. On that occasion twenty-nine useful 
canons were passed which were afterwards, at Chalcedon, 
adopted into the code of the Universal Church. Pope Julius 
protested against these canons on the ground that he had 
not been summoned to that Council, and that by Ecclesiasti- 
cal law no canon was binding on the Church which had not 
received his assent. I don't know that we ought to allow 
Julius to be witness in his own cause ; for this whole history 
is one of claims made by Popes, at first meeting no recog- 
nition elsewhere, but by dint of pertinacious repetition at 
length obtaining more or less acceptance. The Greek histo- 
rians, Socrates (ii. 8, 17) and Sozomen (iii. 10), appear simply 
to repeat what had been said by Julius. But if his words are 
fairly weighed, they seem to me to imply no more than this, 
that the bringing in new canons for the government of the 
whole Church was not proper to be done merely by local 
Councils : ' Judgment ought to be given according to the 

I do not go so far as a learned writer in the Church Quarterly Review, April, 
1881, p. 189, who on the grounds stated above, and for other similar reasons, has 
grave doubts whether these Sardican decrees are not altogether a Roman forgery ; 
for he himself gives good reasons for thinking that a forger would have proceeded 
differently, and for example would have claimed for his canons some higher origin 
than Sardica. Besides, as I have pointed out in the text, the Sardican decrees corre- 
spond well to the circumstances of the time to which they are attributed. 


canon of the whole Church, and not so as you have given it. 
. . . You ought to have written to all of us that so we might 
have decided what was just.' And the first place in such a 
consultation, he maintains, is due to the bishop of Rome, 
especially in a matter relating to the see of Alexandria^ 
which, according to Roman ideas, had been evangelized from 
Rome, viz. by Peter's * interpreter,' St. Mark. 

I may remark, in passing, how what I said already as 
to the precedence of sees being merely determined by the 
civil greatness of their cities is confirmed by the instance 
of Antioch and Alexandria. In ecclesiastical associations 
Antioch was far the superior. It was the older Church, and 
claimed to have been presided over by St. Peter, while 
Alexandria only pretended to have been evangelized later 
by a disciple of Peter. But Alexandria was far the greater 
city, and so its bishop came to hold the second place after 
Rome ; and accordingly, the trial of the case of Athanasius 
at Antioch was open to the objection that it seemed to sub- 
ject the greater see to the less, besides that the place of trial 
was so remote from that where the facts to be investigated 
occurred. But to return to the claims made by Julius, while 
he protests against new canons made at Antioch without 
his knowledge and consent, he gives no intimation that he 
thought that new canons could have been made at Rome 
either without the consent of other Churches. 

Having spoken of Sardica, I may as well go on to speak 
of the well-known Roman attempt to pass off the decrees of 
that Council as Nicene. The case of Apiarius is likely to be 
familiar to you. He was an African presbyter, excommuni- 
cated for misconduct by his bishop. He went to Rome, and 
prevailed on Pope Zosirnus to take up his cause with some 
warmth. The Pope's interference, and the claims on which 
it was founded, were the subject of discussions in at least 
three African Synods. Zosimus, you know, founded his right 
to interfere on the Sardican canons of which I have been 
speaking ; but which he quoted as Nicene. The African 
prelates, in council assembled, declared that there was no 
such canon in their copy of the Nicene code, and they begged 


the Pope to write to Constantinople and Alexandria, request- 
ing that the Greek copies there might be collated, in order to 
ascertain whether the disputed canons had really been passed 
at Nicaea. The Papal legates begged hard that the Council 
would be content with this request to the Pope to examine 
into the matter for himself; but the Council very wisely 
determined to send messengers of their own to the East to 
get copies of the Greek version of the canons of Nicaea. The 
result of the mission appears from the final letter of the 
African bishops. In this, after giving a short account of 
what had been done, they request that the Pope will not in 
future receive persons excommunicated by their Synods, this 
being contrary to the canons of Nicaea. They protest against 
appeals to foreign tribunals ; they deny the Pope's right to 
send legates to exercise jurisdiction in his name, which they 
say is not authorized by any canon of the Fathers, and they 
request that the Pope will not send any agent or nuncio to 
interfere with them in any business for fear the Church 
should suffer through pride and ambition. In fact, we can 
plainly see that the arrogance of the Papal representatives in 
Africa contributed greatly to the soreness which was felt at 
Roman interference. 

In defence of the false quotation of the Sardican canons 
as Nicene, it is alleged that it was the practice in books of 
canons to add to the earlier Councils those of later, those of 
Sardica following next after the Nicene, and therefore quoted 
under the same heading. That the mistake was not purely 
accidental (as far as the Roman scribes were concerned) is 
made likely by a Roman manuscript of the canons still 
extant, in which the name Julius, which occurs in the Sardi- 
can decree, and which determines their date to that episco- 
pate, is deliberately altered to Sylvester, who was bishop at 
the time of the Council of Nicaea. In the absence of any evi- 
dence to connect Pope Zosimus himself with this fraud, I 
willingly acquit him of deliberate forgery, and charitably 
believe that he erred in honest ignorance, having been 
imposed on by some too zealous subordinate ; and the same 
excuse may be made for the Papal use of the forged decretals 


of which I shall speak in another Lecture. But these instances 
show how absurd it is to claim for the Pope immunity from 
error in his declarations of doctrine, while he is allowed to 
be liable to error with regard to matters of fact.* How can we 
put confidence in the judgment of one who is mistaken as to 
the facts which ought to guide his judgment ? When a 
bishop of Rome has to decide what rights he shall claim for 
his see, it surely is important for him to know what rights 
early Councils had recognized and what rights his predeces- 
sors had exercised. If a Pope should be entirely misinformed 
on these points, it is quite to be expected that he should form 
a false estimate of the rightful claims of his see. Of course 
if a person is determined to believe in Infallibility he will do 
so in defiance of all reason. I have already told you that 
there are those who have no difficulty in believing that the 
decisions of a Council are infallibly true, even when it has 
been shown that the arguments which induced the Council to 
come to these decisions are hopelessly bad. Such persons 
will not be shaken in their belief in the correctness of the 
Pope's decisions by any proof that he has been led to them 
on false information. Yet if anyone tells us that it is 
incredible that God would leave His Church without an 

* The use made of this distinction in the Jansenist controversy is well known. In 
1653, five propositions, said to have been extracted from Jansen's book, were sub- 
mitted to Pope Innocent X., who condemned them as heretical. The Jansenists, 
when called on to subscribe to this condemnation, found themselves able to do so 
without giving up their allegiance to their master. The propositions, no doubt, were 
heretical, since the Pope declared them so, but they had never been asserted by Jansen, 
at least not in the sense in which they were heretical. The Jansenists were deprived 
of this evasion in 1656, by a new condemnation obtained from Innocent's successor, 
Alexander VII., in which not only were the five propositions declared to be here- 
tical, but it was expressly stated that Jansen had asserted them in the heretical sense. 
The Jansenists then declared that the question whether the five propositions were 
heretical was one of doctrine, on which they were bound to submit to the Pope's 
decision ; but that the question whether Jansen had asserted them was one of fact, 
on which the Pope was liable to be deceived by false information ; and, therefore, 
that before they could accept his ruling, it was necessary that the passages should be 
produced where Jansen had made the alleged erroneous assertions. The distinction 
relied on by the Jansenists is absolutely necessary to save Papal Infallibility on the 
Pelagian question, for the only defence that can be made for Zosimus is to assert that 
-the Pope's doctrine was sound all along, and that he was merely deceived as to the 


infallible guide, we can reply that it is quite as incredible that 
He would permit His appointed guide to proceed by such 
methods as ought, without a miracle, to lead him to false 
conclusions, and would take no heed to guard him against 
giving credence to forgery and lies. At all events the case 
of Apiarius shows clearly that the right of receiving appeals 
was not an original possession of the see of Rome. Zosimus 
claimed it as a privilege bestowed by the great Council of 
Nicaea ; the African bishops were ready to concede it if it 
had been so bestowed, but asked for proof that it had been. 
That it belonged to the see by divine right does not seem to 
have been dreamed of on either side. 

Thus we see that even in the West at the beginning of 
the fifth century the pre-eminence of the bishop of Rome 
implied no right of absolute dominion, but was subject to 
strict constitutional limitations. The East had showed its 
independence still more plainly a little time before at the 
second General Council. That Council was, as I have already 
said, a purely Eastern body ; and its decrees were made not 
only without Western assistance, but in some points in op- 
position to Western opinion. I refer particularly to disputes 
at the time as to who were the rightful occupants of the 

matter of fact whether Pelagius and Caelestius had contravened it. Yet if the Jan- 
senist position be tenable, any heretic might safely disregard condemnation by the 

The Jansenists, persecuted in France, found shelter in Holland, where they 
nourished for a time, and have preserved to our day a succession of bishops, which 
enabled them to consecrate a bishop for the ' Old Catholics.' The late Dr. Tregelles, 
in his little book on the Jansenists, gives an account of an interview he had in 1850, 
with Van Santen, the Jansenist Archbishop of Utrecht, who gave him particulars of 
an attempt made by Pope Leo XII. soon after his accession in 1827, through his 
legate, Cappucini, to obtain his submission. The most interesting thing in it is 
Cappucini's reply to Van Santen's plea that he could not subscribe the formulary 
which declared that the condemned propositions were in Jansen's book, because he 
himself had read the book, and knew that the propositions were not there : ' Pope 
Urban VIII. [the same who condemned Galileo], had by his bull, In eminenti, con- 
demned Jansen's book, and forbidden the reading of it. In reading it at all you were 
doing a forbidden act, and could not expect God to give you clear light when you 
were thus acting in presumption. No knowledge, therefore, that you imagine your- 
self to have obtained in this unlawful way,^can conflict with the clear duty of implicit 
obedience to the Holy Father.' 


sees of Antioch, Constantinople, and Alexandria, when the 
competitors who had the strongest Western support were 
rejected. And yet the time was one when the voice of the 
West was likely to be listened to with unusual respect ; for 
the Easterns had been under obligations to the West, both 
politically and ecclesiastically. They had quite lately been 
obliged to cry out for Western help when their Emperor 
perished at Adrianople in the most disastrous defeat the 
Roman arms had experienced since Cannse. And the ortho- 
dox Eastern bishops, whom the death of the Arian Emperor 
had restored to ascendency, could not but gratefully remem- 
ber what faithful support the West had given them in the 
time of the Arian domination. If the West was to be praised 
for having disregarded the decisions of Eastern Councils 
which had deposed Athanasius and other orthodox bishops, 
how, in consistency, could they be denied the right to revise 
other Eastern decisions ? Accordingly, this was what the 
West claimed to do ; though it is to be remarked that the 
leader in the movement was not the bishop of Rome, but 
Ambrose of Milan. He appears not to have had much in- 
dependent knowledge of Eastern transactions, but simply to 
have adopted the view of them taken at Alexandria. That 
he should have regarded Paulinus as the rightful bishop of 
Antioch is not surprising, but we are somewhat astonished 
to find that in the contest for the see of Constantinople 
Ambrose gave his adherence to the Egyptian competitor, 
Maximus the Cynic, who, if the accounts that have come to 
us are to be trusted, was a disreputable person quite un- 
worthy of the office. Ambrose in his own name, and that of 
other Western bishops assembled with him in council, wrote 
two urgent letters to the Emperor Theodosius, asking him to 
assemble a council to decide on these disputed elections. 
At first he proposed that the place of meeting should be 
Alexandria ; afterwards, growing bolder, he asked for Rome. 
But he is careful to protest that he claims no right to deter- 
mine the matter, but only desires that the bishop of Rome 
and the other Western bishops should be consulted in the 
matter. It is significant that in this Western attempt to in- 

xxi.] SAINT JEROME. 413 

terfere in Eastern concerns no special claim is made for the 
bishop of Rome, nor is any right to decide on such disputes 
claimed for his see. In fact, the bishop of Rome appears to 
have been no party to this movement, for he was not an ad- 
herent of Maximus. The Easterns replied with the utmost 
civility,* but refused to go to the other end of the world to 
settle their domestic affairs ; and actually arranged them 
with complete disregard of Western opinion. In this de- 
cision the West was forced to acquiesce. 

What has been said sufficiently exhibits the necessity of 
classifying our witnesses geographically : for moderate as 
were the Western claims towards the end of the fourth cen- 
tury, as compared with what they afterwards grew to, they 
vidently found no justification in Eastern tradition. We 
have a graphic picture of Western contempt for the Easterns 
in a contemporary letter written by Jerome from Syria to 
Damasus of Rome. He had found the orthodox Church at 
Antioch greatly distracted not only by the rival pretensions 
of different claimants of the see, but also by disputes on the 
subject of the Trinity, though these, as it would seem, merely 
verbal. The question related to the use of the words uTrooroo-tc 
and ovata ; and it was disputed for instance whether it was 
proper to say that there are in the Godhead three 'hypos- 
tases.' On these questions Jerome has evidently very strongly 
made up his mind ; but he is anxious to be able to produce 
an authoritative ruling in his favour by the bishop of Rome. 
So he writes a flattering letter to Damasus (Ep. 15), expressing 
the utmost scorn for the wretched Easterns. In the West the 
Sun of Righteousness was rising ; in the East Lucifer, who 
had fallen, had set his throne above the stars ; in the West 
was the fertile land bearing fruit a hundredfold ; in the East 
the good grain was overrun with tares and darnel ; in the 
West were the vessels of gold and silver, in the East those of 
wood and earth, destined to be broken by the rod of iron, or 
consumed with eternal fire. Jerome affects to be quite in- 
different to the Eastern disputes. Paulinus, or Meletius, or 
Vitalis, were all alike to him ; all he cared for was to adhere 

Theodoret, H. E. vii. 5. 


to the chair of Peter, the Rock on which the Church was 
built. Let Damasus only tell him which competitor he ought 
to adhere to, and how it was right for him to express himself. 
Damasus, who no doubt well knew that Jerome had no need 
to be enlightened as to which candidate was recognized at 
Rome, appears to have been in no hurry to reply. So Jerome 
has to write again, more urgently imploring the shepherd 
to have pity on the perplexities of his wandering sheep. 
Jerome, as he got older, and learned to know the East better, 
abated a good deal of his youthful ' Chauvinism,' and his 
amusing letter would not need much notice if this specimen 
of Western conceit were not frequently cited as truly illus- 
trating Patristic opinion as to the rightful claims of Rome. 

If we want to know the true tradition of the early Church, 
we have no better evidence than the General Councils ; so 
with a few remarks on their canons having reference to the 
present subject, I will conclude this Lecture. I may take for 
granted that you are familiar with the celebrated Nicene 
canon, * Let the ancient customs prevail ; with regard to 
Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis, that the bishop of Alexandria 
should have authority over all these, since this is also cus- 
tomary for the bishop in Rome ; and likewise in Antioch 
and the other provinces that the prerogatives of the Churches 
be preserved ; so if any be made bishop without the consent 
of the metropolitan, the Council adjudges him to be no 
bishop.' The cause of this canon was certain schismatical 
proceedings on the part of an Egyptian bishop, Meletius. It 
is evident that the Council regarded the supremacy of Alex- 
andria as then an old thing ; and secondly that the Council 
treats this supremacy as quite parallel to that exercised 
elsewhere by the bishops of Rome and Antioch. There 
could not be a stronger implicit denial of the right of Rome 
to rule the whole Church, or to enjoy an exclusive privilege, 
than the use of such an argument as, The bishop of Rome 
has such and such powers in his neighbourhood, therefore 
the bishop of Alexandria ought to have the like in his. At 
the same time the right of Rome is acknowledged to rule the 
Churches in the immediate neighbourhood. 


How far did that right extend ? Rufinus, who translated 
these canons towards the end of the fourth century, says, 
Rome has the care of the suburbicarian Churches. Commen- 
tators differ as to what exactly this means. It is clear, how- 
ever, that Rome had not patriarchal authority as yet over 
the whole West, as indeed is proved by the case of Apiarius, 
which has been already discussed. I have not time to tell 
at length of the struggles made by Rome from time to time 
to enlarge the bounds of her patriarchal authority. It may, 
however, be mentioned that the great schism between East 
and West grew out of disputes as to whether certain pro- 
vinces belonged to the patriarchate of Rome or Constanti- 
nople. The two patriarchs felt a natural shame to confess 
that the cause of their solicitude was the money that would 
be diverted from their coffers if these provinces should be 
lost to them. Consequently differences of ritual or of doc- 
trine, on points on which previous generations had been 
content to differ, were now first represented as soul-destroy- 
ing errors ; and the disputants declared themselves each to 
be solely moved by solicitude for the souls that would be 
imperilled if they were placed under the teaching of his rival. 
But all these struggles to increase the part of the Church 
over which Rome was to hold sway are perfectly inconsistent 
with her modern claim to dominion over the whole Church. 
The man who asked our Lord to command his brother to 
divide the inheritance, may have been covetous and grasp- 
ing; but by the very words of his petition he precluded 
himself from asserting that he was the sole heir. If you 
complain that your share is not as large as it ought to be,, 
and try to make it larger, you are still owning that you 
are entitled to a share, not the whole. Accordingly, at the 
present day Romanists do not count Rome as among the 
great patriarchates of the Church, and they are quite con- 
sistent in not doing so, and in treating the patriarchal office 
as inferior to that held by the Pope ; but the ancient Church, 
even when it came to recognize the bishop ot Rome as the 
great patriarch of the West, implicitly denied his jurisdic- 
tion over the whole Church. 


To pass now to the second General Council. One of the 
Constantinopolitan canons forbids the bishops at the head of 
the great ecclesiastical divisions to meddle out of their own 
provinces, or throw the Churches into confusion ; but that 
according to the canons the bishop of Alexandria should 
alone administer the affairs of Egypt, the bishops of the East 
those of the East, and so on. No mention of Rome is made 
in this canon, which deals only with Eastern affairs, but 
Roman claims to Eastern dominion are sufficiently con- 
demned by the silence of the canon, there being apparently 
no necessity even to reject such pretensions. 

What the Council would be willing to grant to the bishop 
of Rome appears from what they granted to the bishop of 
Constantinople. They did not give him any right to meddle 
out of his own province, but they said that he should have 
precedency of honour (ra irptafida rfig rt/ifjc) next after the 
bishop of Rome, because his city was new Rome. 

This decree of Constantinople was read at Chalcedon, 
and the Council voted, * We recognize the canon just read, 
and do ourselves adopt the same determination respecting 
the precedence of the most holy Church of Constantinople, 
new Rome, for the fathers naturally assigned precedence to 
the see of the elder Rome, because that city was imperial ; 
and taking the same point of view the one hundred and fifty 
pious bishops awarded the same precedence to the most holy 
see of new Rome, judging with good reason that the city 
which was honoured with the sovereignty and the senate, 
and which enjoyed the same precedence with the elder 
imperial Rome, should also in matters ecclesiastical be 
dignified like her, as being second after her.' So far the 
decree might seem to give but honorary precedence, but it 
went on to say, ' so that the metropolitans of Pontus, Asia, 
and Thrace, should be ordained by the archbishop of Con- 
stantinople, these metropolitans to ordain the comprovincial 
bishops.' When this canon was proposed the Roman legates, 
evidently discerning that it would not be liked in Rome, said 
that they had had no instructions from home on this subject, 
and therefore withdrew ; but the canon was passed in their 


absence. When the legates next day protested, and asked that 
the decree should be rescinded, their demand was refused. 
When word was brought to Rome of what had been done, Leo 
was exceedingly angry, and refused to recognize the new 
canon, professing great solicitude for the dignity of the ancient 
sees of Alexandria and Antioch founded, as he said, the one 
by Peter's disciple Mark, the other by Peter himself before 
he went to Rome a line of argument which effectively main- 
tained the superior claims of Rome itself. In his resistance 
the bishop of Rome might count on sympathy not only from 
these sees, but also from those whose metropolitans were in 
future to be consecrated in Constantinople instead of in their 
own province. It is worthy of remark that the ground on 
which Leo asserts the nullity of the canons is not their 
having been passed without his consent, but their being in 
opposition to the decrees of Nicaea, which he said would last 
to the end of the world, and which no subsequent assembly 
of bishops, however numerous, had power to alter.* But in 
spite of Roman protests the canon remained firm ; Con- 
stantinople retained the rank assigned to it, and after long 
unavailing struggle Rome was forced to recognize the ex- 
isting facts. The Quinisext Council, 68 1, confirmed all the 
Chalcedon canons without exception, and the Council of 
Florence formally renewed the order established by Chal- 
cedon, with Constantinople second. 

To what a height Constantinople grew may be judged 
from the title of Ecumenical or universal bishop, about which 
there was such amusing controversy at the end of the sixth 
century. In the grandiloquent language of the East it did 
not mean all that the word would in strictness convey ; and 
the bishop of Constantinople would probably have allowed 
that there might be more universal bishops than one; but 
Gregory the Great, taking it literally, was shocked at what 

* Leo, in like manner, rejected the ambitious claims, already mentioned, of 
Juvenal of Jerusalem, on the ground that they were an infringement of the Nicene 
canon. But though Juvenal did not succeed in obtaining everything he had wished 
for, the question of the claims of Jerusalem was dealt with as an entirely open one by 
the Council of Chalcedon, and that see then permanently secured a higher position 
than Nicaea had given it. 

2 E 


he called a proud and foolish word ; declared that the 
assumption of it was an imitation of the devil, who exalted 
himself above his fellow angels ; that it was unlike the 
behaviour of St. Peter, who, although first of the Apostles, 
did not pretend to be more than of the same class with the 
rest, and that this piece of arrogance was a token of Anti- 
christ's speedy coming. I call this amusing on account of 
the laughable shifts to which Roman divines are reduced in 
their efforts to reconcile this language with the assumption 
of the same title and all it denotes, by Gregory's successors. 



A LTHOUGH the question of the Infallibility of the Pope 
-tA. i s that with which I am directly concerned in this 
course of Lectures, yet in treating of the matter historically 
I have found it necessary, before entering on the discussion 
of it, to trace the growth of Roman Supremacy ; because the 
claim to Infallibility was the last stage in the progress of 
Roman ambition. First, there was but the readily acknow- 
ledged claim to honourable precedence among Churches ; 
then there was the claim to command, first over neighbouring 
Churches, afterwards over more distant ones ; last of all came 
the idea of Infallibility. It was not necessarily suggested 
by the claim to sovereignty, for the most rightful of human 
rulers is not exempt from occasional errors ; but the notion 
was suggested by the exemption which Rome seemed to 
enjoy from the calamities which befel other principal sees. 
At the third General Council the bishop of Constantinople 
was deposed for heresy ; at the fourth the bishop of Alex- 
andria. Other sees were, in like manner, at times occupied 
by men whom the later Church repudiated as heretics. Pro- 
bably the true explanation why it was long before the name 
of heretic permanently attached itself to any bishop of Rome 
is, that the side supported by the powerful influence of Rome 
always had the best chance of triumphing, and so of escaping 
the stigma of heresy which the defeated party incurred. At 
one time, indeed, it seemed for a moment that things might 
turn out differently; for on the temporary triumph of Eutychi- 
anism at the Robber Synod of A.D. 429, the bishop of Rome 
was excommunicated as a heretic ; but by the opportune 

2 E 2 


death of the Emperor the cloud blew over, and this piece of 
impudence was regarded as only aggravating the guilt of the 
Alexandrian. Thus, then, it was not until after some five 
centuries, during which the ' Chair of Peter ' escaped any 
permanent stain of heresy, that the idea suggested itself that 
this exemption was a privilege conferred in answer to our 
Saviour's prayer that Peter's faith should not fail. We have 
now to inquire how far the belief in such a privilege is jus- 
tified by facts ; and we must also examine whether the bishop 
of Rome has really discharged the office of teacher and guide 
to the Church, which it is imagined was conferred on him. 

I have already (p. 385) spoken of the charge of heresy 
brought by Hippolytus against Zephyrinus and Callistus. 
Dollinger's is the only way of meeting that case which saves 
the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. An attempted proof that 
the accused bishops were really orthodox would leave the 
reply still open, at least Hippolytus regarded it as a pos- 
sible thing that the bishop of Rome might be a heretic. But 
if Hippolytus did not regard Callistus as bishop of Rome, no 
use can be made of the case in the present controversy. 

I pass over minor matters and come at once to the great 
Arian controversy. I have already remarked that Constan- 
tine clearly knew nothing of the idea that the bishop of 
Rome was the appointed teacher and guide of the Church ; 
for if that had been the accepted belief of the Church of the 
day, the Emperor could not but have heard of it ; and, being 
most anxious to suppress controversy, and to give peace to the 
Church, he would not have adopted the costly expedient of a 
Council, but would have used the simpler method of obtain- 
ing a ruling from the bishop of Rome, if he had any reason 
to think that the Church would accept that ruling as decisive. 
But the history of these Arian disputes affords a painful 
proof that this controversy, at least, was not settled by the 
bishop of Rome. I allude to the fall of Liberius. The case 
being a celebrated one, it may be well to delay a little on it, 
and to state without exaggeration what the real amount of 
this fall was. 

Liberius, to his credit, made at first a noble resistance to 


the pressure put on him by the Arian Emperor Constantius.* 
He defied his threats and submitted to exile ; but in his ban- 
ishment he was purposely insulated from other confessors. 
His Church at Rome was committed to another, Felix, who 
was consecrated by three Arian bishops. And it was this 
which seems more than anything else to have wrought on 
the constancy of Liberius the being separated from his see, 
and knowing that his place there was occupied by another. 
After two years' banishment he seems willing to submit to 
anything in order to obtain restoration. St. Jerome tel