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But as to this interpretation, we dare affirm, that though very great deference be due to the earlier writers, as possessing peculiar opportunities of knowledge, yet were they not guaranteed in any especial manner from foreign influences, from the prepossessions and prejudices of their age, their position, their habits of thought and feeling; and there are advantages which belong to us, who may benefit by all that is valuable in their wisdom, and to it may add our own (our more accurate philosophy of language for instance, our wider acquaintance with languages in general)—so that we are bold to say, that, on the whole, Biblical Criticism is in a state of legitimate development to our own day.
Mr. Newman has given us an example of the manner in which he conceives that the obscure hints of the Scriptures are legitimately developed into doctrines binding in perpetuity on the whole Christian Church. But we are compelled to say, that if we were not familiar with the very peculiar structure of Mr. Newman's mind—now endowed with logical acuteness and precision almost unrivalled in his day, and which may have enabled him in earlier and more quiet times to do amicable battle with the future Archbishop Whately—now stooping to a rubbish of false inferences and incomplete analogies, of which a child would be ashamed ;—we should scarcely have believed that he would have ventured such passages in a work written with great caution, as we might have supposed, and after deep meditation.
It may be added that, in matter of fact, all the definitions or received judgements of the earlier and mediæval Church rest upon definite, even though sometimes obscure sentences of Scripture. Thus Purgatory may appeal to the saving by fire,' and entering through much tribulation into the kingdom of God;' the communication of the merits of the Saints to our receiving a prophet's reward' for 'receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet,' and 'a righteous man's reward' for receiving a righteous man in the name of a righteous man;' the Real Presence to “This is my Body ;' Absolution to “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted;' Extreme Unction to 'Anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;' Voluntary poverty to 'Sell all that thou hast;' obedience
to ‘He was in subjection to His parents ;' the honour paid to creatures, animate or inanimate, to Laudate Dominum in sanctis Ejus, and Adorate scabellum pedum Ejus, and so of the rest.-P. 112.
Now, of these scriptural expressions, some three, it is well known, are of contested application, and therefore Mr. Newman may have a right to affirm the sense in which they are held in his Church. We know too that the text of St. Paul to the Corinthians is the old desperate refuge of controversialists in favour of Purgatory; but it should be fairly quoted so as by fire,' oŰTWS kui ús dià trupós ; and thus out of one metaphorical expression, a mere similitude, is developed a whole Intermediate Realm between the heaven and hell of the Scriptures, with all its fertile consequences. We are wrong; there is another sentence, implying the difficulty of becoming a Christian and attaining Christian blessedness. So, too, the Communication of the Merits of Saints, a doctrine which, whether rightly or not, appears to trench most strongly on the very cardinal “idea' of the Gospel, rests on a passage, receiving a prophet's reward, which to ordinary reason bears as much relation to it as to any other doctrine the most remote from its purpose. We cannot find space to examine the rest, but it is curious that Mr. Newman, in his last clause, is obliged to take refuge in the Latin --the original of “in sanctis Ejus, we humbly submit, signifying not in his Saints, but in his Sanctuary, his Holy of Holies! And the footstool of Godof God, of whom Christ has spoken -whom man dare not worship but as pure Spirit! And is this the Biblical interpretation to which we are to go back in the present age of Christianity ?
But even these dim forebodings of future doctrines, these obscure suggestions which the fertile imagination of the later Church is to quicken into immutable, irrepealable articles of faith, cannot be obtained without submitting the Scriptures to another subtle process. The plain sense of the New Testament is too stubbornly perspicuous. Mystic interpretation must be called in to throw its veil over the whole sacred volume. The simple narratives, the exquisite parables, the
pure moral maxims, must be refined into one vast allegory, which may make it mean anything, and consequently mean nothing.
And this has been the doctrine of all ages of the Church, as is shown by the disinclination of her teachers to confine themselves to the mere literal interpretation of Scripture. Her most subtle and powerful method of proof, whether in ancient or modern times, is the mystical sense, which is so frequently used in doctrinal controversy as on many occasions to supersede any other. Thus the Council of Trent appeals to the peace-offering spoken of in Malachi i. in proof of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; to the water and blood issuing from our Lord's side, and to t!je mention of waters' in the Apocalypse, in admonishing on the subject of the mixture of water with the wine in the Oblation. Thus Bellarmine defends monastic celibacy by our Lord's words in Matthew xix., and refers to “We went though fire and water,' &c. in the Psalm, as an argument for Purgatory; and these, as is plain, are but specimens of a rule. Now, on turning to primitive controversy, we find this method of interpretation to be the very basis of the proof of the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity.-P. 323.
It may almost be laid down (he says below) as an historical fact, that the mystical interpretation and orthodoxy will stand or fall together.
Still further, Mr. Newman quotes with full approbation the character of St. Ephrem, from a recent learned German 6 :
Ephrem is not so sober in his interpretations, nor could he be (the italics are Mr. Newman's), since he was a zealous disciple of the orthodox faith. For all those who are eminent in such sobriety were as far as possible removed from the faith of the Councils !
Mr. Newman has the extraordinary candour to contrast with this strange Christian cabbala (for it is nothing else), and to the disadvantage of Hales, whom he condemns as a latitudinarian, a well-known passage from the Golden Remains of that writer. The sum of Hales's argument is—
The literal, plain, and uncontrovertible meaning of Scripture, without any addition or supply by way of interpretation, is that alone which, for ground of faith, we are necessarily bound to accept : except it be there, where the Holy Ghost himself treads us out another way . ..
* Langerke de Ephrem, S. pp. 78, 80.
The doctrine of the literal sense was never grievous or prejudicial to any, but only to those who were inwardly conscious that their positions were not sufficiently grounded. When Cardinal Cajetan, in the days of our grandfathers, had forsaken that vein of postilling and allegorizing on Scripture, which for a long time had prevailed in the Church, and betaken himself unto the literal sense, it was a thing so distasteful unto the Church of Rome, that he was forced to find out many shifts, and make many apologies for himself.-P. 326.
And has Mr. Newman lived in such utter seclusion, or, what is more dangerous than seclusion, so completely environed by men entirely his inferiors, as to suppose that any power on earth can wring this great principle of the plain literal interpretation from the practical good sense of the English religious mind ? Sectarianism has also its allegorizing vein, and we will back the Pilgrim's Progress against the whole mass of Mediæval mysticism.
But not only the New Testament—the early Fathers also (of the three first centuries) give out but dim and oracular voices to be expanded into distinct and irrepealable decrees by the Mediæval Church. After a dexterous quotation from Paley, who would account for the sparing manner in which the earlier apologists for Christianity urge the proof from miracles, on account of the general belief in magical powers, our author proceeds :
And, in like manner, Christians were not likely to entertain the question of the abstract allowableness of images in the Catholic ritual, with the actual superstitions and immoralities of Paganism before their eyes. Nor were they likely to determine the place of St. Mary in our reverence, before they had duly secured, in the affections of the faithful, the supreme glory and worship of God Incarnate, her eternal Lord and Son. Nor would they recognize Purgatory as a part of the dispensation, till the world had flowed into the Church, and a habit of corruption had been superinduced. Nor could ecclesiastical liberty be asserted, till it had been assailed. Nor would a Pope arise, but in proportion as the Church was consolidated. Nor would monachism be needed, while martyrdoms were in progress. Nor could St. Clement give judgement on the doctrine of Berengarius, nor St. Dionysius refute the Ubiquists, nor St. Irenæus denounce the Protestant view of Justification, nor St. Cyprian draw up a theory of persecution. There is a
time for every purpose under the heaven ; ' 'a time to keep silence and a time to speak.'—P. 145.
“A theory of persecution !' Is that the crown and climax of development ?' Mr. Newman must forgive us if-notwithstanding many significant hints in this and his other writings, notwithstanding the violence which he would do to his own nature, in order to work himself to the full height of mediæval bigotry as well as medieval faith-our early reminiscences and indelible impressions of his character forbid us to believe that he would develop' into a Torquemada.
Thus, then, we seem drawn to the conclusion that Mr. Newman, notwithstanding his reservation for their latent sense and latent doctrines, virtually abandons the long-fought ground of Scripture, at least in its plain unmysticised meaning, and likewise that of the early Fathers. If we do wrong to our author, he must himself bear his share in the blame.
The mediæval theology is a development of the great Idea of Christianity. But when we seek a definition of this great Idea, which is thus to expand into what at first appears altogether extraneous, if not irreconcilable (Mr. Newman almost admits as much) with what certainly appears its first vital principle, we seek in vain. From first to last there is no definition of the Idea of Christianity. So, too, as regards the Law of Development. Mr. Newman furnishes us, it is true, with certain tests which are to distinguish between a legitimate development and a corruption or degeneracy. But previously he has bewildered us (and, with respect be it spoken, apparently himself) with illustrations of development, with more or less remote analogies from the vegetable and animal kingdoms, from politics, and history, and philosophy, which only prove what no man in his senses ever thought of doubting, that development, in other words progress, or at least change, is an eternal law of human things. One of the first and most elaborate of these illustrations is the development of Wesleyan Methodism, from which we collect either that John Wesley had no distinct idea at all of his own design, or that