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NEWMAN ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF
All the world knows that, before the publication of this work, Mr. Newman had passed over to the Church of Rome. May his restless spirit at length have repose !—the doubts, which still tremblingly betray themselves in his most positive conclusions, cease to haunt his mind !--his deep religious yearnings find satisfaction in those cloistral practices or observances, it should seem, absolutely indispensable to his peculiar temperament, but unnecessary to those Christians who are content with the higher mission of perseveringly discharging their duty to God and man, whether in the high places or the domestic sanctuaries of life! We write with no proud and unbecoming assumption of compassion towards one who, we think, has mistaken the lower for the higher view of Christian faith and love; but it is our solemn prayer and hope that he may escape all the anguish of self-reproach, and the reproach of others-selfreproach for having sown the bitter seeds of religious dissension in many families ;—the reproach of others who, more or less blindly following his example, have snapt asunder the bonds of hereditary faith and domestic attachment, and have trodden under foot the holiest charities of our being ; who have abandoned their prospects in life, many of them—from their talents and serious character-prospects of most extensive usefulness to mankind; and who may hereafter find, when the first burst
"An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. By John Henry Newman. 8vo. London, 1846.
of poetry and of religious passion has softened down, that the void was not in the religion of their fathers but in themselves; that they have sought to find without, what they should have sought within; and will have to strive for the rest of their lives with baffled hopes, with ill-suppressed regrets; with an uneasy consciousness of their unfitness for their present position, and want of power or courage to regain that which they have lost; with a hollow truce instead of a firm peace within their conscience; a weary longing for rest where rest alone can be found.
Our business is with Mr. Newman's book, not with Mr. Newman himself or with his followers. It will, however, be impossible altogether to separate the examination of his work from what Mr. Coleridge would have called the psychological study of his mind—so completely is the one the reflection, dare we use the word, the transfiguration of one into the other. Yet this consideration, while we scruple not strongly to assert our own convictions of the truth, is but a more grave admonition to labour at least to maintain throughout the discussion the most perfect candour and charity.
There is something significant in a few words of Mr. Newman's preface. The author's 'first act on his conversion was to offer his work for revision to the proper authorities; but the offer was declined, on the ground that it was written and partly printed before he was a Catholic, and that it would come before the reader in a more persuasive form if he read it as the author wrote it. His Church has not departed from her wonted wariness in declining the responsibility of a work, which might thus have appeared, in some degree, as an authorized vindication of herself. It may be well, according to her policy, to give free scope to bold and original minds; to men of undoubted, though we think of very unequal ability, such as De Maistre, Möhler, and Mr. Newman, to promulgate brilliant theories, and to work them out with their utmost skill ; the first, M. de Maistre, with all the dauntless hardihood of assertion, the recklessness of quotation, much of the point and brilliancy of French polemics, but utterly wanting in the logical accuracy, the profound but perspicuous philosophy of their higher school; the second, with solid German erudition, and by no means without German candour and moderation ;? the third, Mr. Newman, with the logical subtlety of a schoolman, and a style unusually clear, vigorous, and idiomatic, though often careless in the construction of the sentences, and wanting some of the graces of our best prose. On this cautious plan his Church gathers all the glory and the profit, and is answerable for nothing. If the new Apologists venture to desert the old grounds of controversy, it is at their own peril; the Church may disclaim them at the first signal of difficulty or distress; she may cut them adrift and sail proudly on unconcerned at their fate, and leaving them to combat alone with the storm which they have raised. The wisdom of this reserve is more
2 We have the satisfaction to find our judgement on these two writers supported by the high authority of the Bishop of St. David's. “Möhler is solidly learned, thoughtful, logical, and apparently willing to do justice to his opponents. At least he is not in the habit of substituting peremptory and paradoxical assertions or sneers in the room of argument; nor capable (like De Maistre in his work Du Pape) of grounding his reasoning on a total misconception of the point in dispute.'- Charge, 1845. The bishop's observations on the development theory are worth reading, as comprehending the whole subject in a few sentences. As a specimen of De Maistre's quotations, it may not be unamusing to refer to his testimonies from Protestant writers to the supremacy of the Pope. One is from Calvin! The reference in our edition is to the Institutes, book vi. 11. There are only four books of the Institutes, and we therefore cannot trace the passage. But we recommend the reader to the 6th and 11th chapter of the fourth book for Calvin's opinion on this subject. Another testimony is that the old Puritan Cartwright, in his controversy with Whitgift, said something like this, ' If we are to have such an Archbishop of Canterbury, we might as well have a Pope!' Some sentences of Misson and of Gibbon, which justly assert that the Popes of their own century had usually been men of decent, irreproachable, even venerable character, have become testimonies to the blamelessness and to the virtues of all the Popes who ever sate in St. Peter's chair. But have those who quote De Maistre and Möhler together, as Mr. Newman does, road both? Möbler's book (Die Einheit in der Kirche) confines itself to the three first centuries, and his conclusion is this—that the Papal supremacy was unknown in the more flourishing state of the Church ; that it was a provisiou for darker times; and that if we could revive that flourishing state we should return to primitive Episcopacy :- Je blühender der Zustand der Kirche, desto mehr wird sich der früheste Verband der Kirche durch den Episcopat darstellen, und die andern werden in den Hintergrund zurücktreten, die Metropoliten und der Primas.' ... Afterwards he says— Haben wir das alte Lebon wieder, so werden wir die alten Formen nothwendig wioder erhalten.'-Pp. 248, 250.
evident, since the whole battle depends, according to the new theory, on one dangerous position. The adversary is admitted within the lines, within the camp, to be beaten back only by the strength of one forlorn post.
The Introduction to Mr. Newman's book might of itself alarm any one deeply read in the controversies of but recent times. It is the preliminary hazard to the great desperate stake which is to be played by the whole book, and, as he himself knows, has already been tried with serious consequences not only to the Church of Rome, but to Christianity itself. Its substance is this: That there are no better grounds in the Scriptures and in the earlier Fathers for some of those doctrines which are most universally received by the great mass of Christian believers beyond as well as within the pale of Rome, than for the more peculiar doctrines of that Church ; that the testimonies are equally vague, dim, precarious, ambiguous, and contradictory, for the Trinity and the Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures, as for the worship of the Virgin Mary and for the supremacy of the Pope. Original Sin and Purgatory stand and fall together.
The singular point throughout the Introduction is this:-Mr. Newman feels himself obliged to confine his arguments to the refutation of himself and of his former friends. To the latter he endeavours to prove most elaborately that their doctrine of the Real Presence (not Transubstantiation) which they have maintained on the ground of the memorable canon of Vincentius Lirinensis, ' Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, stands on no better ground than the Papal Supremacy. We leave these learned writers to defend themselves, but Mr. Newman, as he ingenuously acknowledges, has also to confute himself. In the year 1838 Mr. Newman wrote thus of Bishop Bull's · Defence of the Nicene Faith':
He was led to do so by an attack upon the orthodoxy of the anteNicene Fathers from a quarter whence it was at first sight little to be expected. The learned assailant was not an Arian, or Socinian, or Latitudinarian, but Petavius, a member of the Jesuit body. The tendency of the portion of his great work on theological doctrines which treats of the Trinity is too plain to be mistaken. The historian Gibbon does not scruple to pronounce that its .object, or at least effect,' was 'to arraign’and, as he considers, 'successfully, the faith of the anteNicene Fathers;' and it was used in no long time by Arian writers in their own justification. Thus Romanist, heretic, and infidel unite with one another in this instance in denying the orthodoxy of the first centuries. . . . . But to return to Petavius. This learned author, in his elaborate work on the Trinity, shows that he would rather prove the early Confessors and Martyrs to be heterodox than that they should exist as a court of appeal from the decisions of his own Church; and he accordingly sacrifices, without remorse, Justin, Clement, Irenæus, and their brethren to the maintenance of the infallibility of Rome. Or to put the matter in another point of view, truer perhaps though less favourable still to Petavius, he consents that the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity shall so far rest on the mere declaration of the Church that, before it was formally defined, there was no heresy in rejecting it, provided he can thereby gain for Rome the freedom of making decrees unfettered by the recorded judgements of antiquity.--Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church, 1838, p. 73 et seq.
I do not mean to say that there have been many such systematic and profound attempts as this on the part of Petavius, at what may justly be called parricide. Rome even, steeled as she is against the kindlier feelings when her interests require, has more of tender mercy left than to bear them often.—Ibid. pp. 77, 78.
We implicitly believe that Mr. Newman believes the sincerity of his own protestations of the most profound reverence for the primitive Fathers, and that he has not the slightest intention to impugn their orthodoxy; he would suppose that those Fathers in their most ambiguous expressions imply or intend the Catholic doctrine. Yet he now writes thus. After stating that “the only great doctrinal council in ante-Nicene times rejected the word Homoüsian,' he proceeds :
The six great bishops and saints of the ante-Nicene Church were St. Irenæus, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and St. Methodius. Of these St. Dionysius is accused by St. Basil of having sown the first seeds of Arianism; and St. Gregory is allowed by the same learned father to have used language concerning our Lord, which he only defends on the plea of an economical object in the writer. St. Hippolytus speaks as if he were ignorant of our Lord's Eternal Sonship; St. Methodius speaks in