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the high Anglicans, Mr. Newman's language is still more stern and significant. "Go on with me, or I will spurn down the narrow plank on which we have stood together over the dizzy abyss, and leave you to your fate! Your apostolic succession, your lofty notions of the Sacraments, your real presence, I will rend them from you with my merciless logic, unless you bow with me in lowly submission to the Papal supremacy. The desperate apology is to his own conscience. Drawn irresistibly towards Rome, by thoughts over which he has long broodedwhich he has developed into a complete mastery over his mind — of the soul-absorbing austerities, the majestic sacerdotal power, the imaginative devotion, above all the unharassed faith, and fondly promised peace of unquestioning submission ; driven by those dire Eumenides, which in God's mysterious Providence are permitted to haunt the noblest, and by nature, until steeled by what seems heaven-ordained bigotry, the gentlest, and the purest of spirits, by Doubt, and Terror, and Dissatisfaction with what is, and painful craving after the Unattainable—(wisely wrote the old heathen, though of a lower object,
Tu ne quæsieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
Finem Dii dederint, Leuconoe)
Mr. Newman has rushed to the altar which seemed to be that of the Soothing and Appeasing Deity. His mind felt an absolute necessity for Infallibility; he had sought the oracles of God, but in vain. "We are told, he writes, that God has spoken. Where? In a book? We have tried it, and it disappoints ; it disappoints, that most holy and blessed gift, not from fault of its own, but because it is used for a purpose for which it was not given’ (p. 126). But let us solemnly ask, what did Mr. Newman seek in that Book to which the mysterious shrine gave back but a vague, ambiguous, awful, and unconsolatory answer ? Did he seek Monasticism,-a despotic Hierarchy,- Sacraments which work like magic spells, irrespective of moral and religious influences,-an unbounded
confidence in priestly absolution,-minute observances,—a full and logical creed,-a manual of passionate devotion ? Was he content to seek, what any man who has received an ordinary Christian education may surely find, the sublimest notions of the Divine nature, not wrought out, it may be true, in subtle metaphysical formularies, but not the less convincing, not the less commanding, not the less controlling, not the less engaging, not the less the infelt work of the Divine Comforter; the promise of remission of sins and of eternal life through Christ and Christ alone; maxims of such generous and benignant and comprehensive morality, that it is impossible to conceive any private or social condition of man, in which they will not furnish a perfect rule of life; two great, eternal, immutable principles, the love of God and the love of man, the application of which in the various forms of civilization, in all the vicissitudes in the life of the human being, and in the life of humanity, is the true development of Christianity ?
We must confess that it is the awful distinctness, not the obscurity, of the New Testament, which would appal and distress us, if it were not that the reassuring promises were equally or even more clear. We are content to leave in that vagueness, which is alone satisfactory to the enlightened reason, the inconceivable state of the human being after death, whether in bliss or woe. The silence, or the dim and figurative intimations of the New Testament are to us infinitely more satisfactory, as infinitely more accordant with Divine wisdom and the moral probation of man, than the distinct map, as it were, of Purgatory, and Hell, and Heaven, which, without the licence of Dante's poetry, is preserved in mediæval teaching.
There are questions to which the New Testament gives no answer, but they are questions before which even Papal Infallibility cowers, and is either prudently silent or cautiously guarded.
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate,
infallible Rome, like fallible man, like the higher fallible beings of the poet,
Can find no end, in wandering mazes lost !
On these points, wherever the Roman Catholic Church has been betrayed into a decree, it has been constrained in due time to limit its own decisions by a counteracting if not contradictory sentence. It has asserted St. Augustine against Pelagius, and disclaimed him first against Godescalc, later against Jansenius.
We assert that there is no question essential to the salvation or to the moral perfection of man; to man in any relation or condition of life; to man in a state of trial and discipline; to man as a citizen, as a husband, as a parent; to man baptized into the faith of Christ ; to man conscientiously endeavouring to lead a Christian life; to man as an heir of immortality, gradually trained by Christian sanctification to Christian immortality ; to man in life, and on his deathbed—which is not as fully answered by the New Testament as by all the decrees of Councils and of Popes. If man seeks for more, if he will aspire to unrevealed knowledge, to a minute and inflexible rule for his devotion; above all, to an assurance, guaranteed by some irreversible sentence, anticipatory of God's retributive judgement as to the destiny of his own individual soul; if he will needs demand more than Christian hope and Christian peace, then we say his demands are utterly inconsistent with the ordinary dealings of God's Providence, with what we humbly presume to be the scope and design of the revelation of God in Christ.
We may have seemed to linger too long on the threshold, as it were, of Mr. Newman's work. But his opinions are looked up to with so much submission by many, with such curiosity by more, that we cannot prevail on ourselves to dismiss any part of them in what may appear disrespectful haste.
What, then, is this great Theory of Development which the Church of Rome, it is true, does not recognize as its authorized manifesto to mankind; but which, from the high character of its advocates, seems, for a time at least, to supersede all the old established arguments of that Church, and has a right therefore to expect the most calm and unimpassioned examination? We have indeed somewhat anticipated one question, which is the key to the whole discussion. But the most compiete and definite statement of this theory is contained in the following passage :
That the increase and expansion of the Christian Creed and Ritual, and the variations which have attended the process in the case of individual writers and churches, are the necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which takes possession of the intellect and heart, and has had any wide or extended dominion; that, from the nature of the human mind, time is necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and that the highest and most wonderful truths, though communicated to the world once for all by inspired teachers, could not be comprehended all at once by the recipients—but, as received and transmitted by minds not inspired, and through media which were human, have required only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation—this may be called The Theory of Developments. -P. 27.
Now this developed’ Christianity is throughout declared and argued to be the only true and perfect religion of Christ. This is the scope and object of the book.
The issue then is, the Christianity of the New Testament, or what, to avoid terms offensive on the one hand, or obviously improper on the other, we will call Mediæval Christianity. For, though we presume that the culminating point, the last absolute crown and completion of the system, advances beyond that period, even to the Council of Trent and the Creed of Pope Pius, yet the phrase is sufficiently intelligible without jarring harshly on the feelings of either party. Up to that period it is assumed Christianity was not merely in a state of constant increase and expansion, but of advancement to perfection. Development, until degeneracy and corruption begin, implies fulness, maturity, completeness. When we are commanded, at the peril of our immortal souls, to throw off our own undeveloped, or imperfectly developed Christianity for the absolute and perfect form, we must satisfy ourselves that every enlargement of our creed, whether by addition, expansion, comprehensiveness-every law imposed upon our practice, every assumption of power by those who require our submission, every principle which is enforced upon us, and the extent to which every principle is to be carried out—every minute iota, in short, of ecclesiastical ordinance, which, though insignificant in itself, may, if infringed, bring forth within us a dangerous tendency to independence—every demand which has been made on our faith or our obedience by the dominant rulers of the Church, rests on authority as absolutely divine, as distinctly the audible Word of God, as undoubtedly a revelation from the great Creator of man, as if it had been uttered amid the thunder of Sinai, or spoken by our Lord and by his Apostles. Inspiration, according to this argument, was no temporary gift -it dwells as fully on the lips of Popes and Fathers in council, as on those of St. Peter and St. Paul.
According to this theory, what is the New Testament? It is no Revelation ; it is but the obscure and prophetic harbinger of a Revelation. It is no great harmonious system of truths; it has but the rude outlines, the suggestive elements of those truths; it is no code of law, but a rudimental first conception of a law. Its morality is no establishment of great principles, to be applied by the conscience of the individual man, but a collection of vague and ambiguous maxims. Of the way of salvation it utters but dark and oracular hints; it has brought life and immortality but into a faint and hazy twilight; the Sun of Righteousness rose not to his full meridian till the Council of Trent. No doubt the interpretation, and still more the personal application, of the Scripture is a difficult task; and, notwithstanding Mr. Newman's abstruse argument, we presume that its difficulty was intended in the Divine counsels. It is not in the cultivation of the earth alone that
Pater ipse colendi