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Wesleyanism has absolutely departed from that original idea. If Wesley had any positive idea, it was the revival of religion, according to his own views, within the Church of England. The end, everyone knows, has been the establishment of a large and singularly well-organized sect, if not, as we devoutly hope, directly adverse to, yet certainly without the Church. Wesley, indeed, lived to sanction or to conduct all these changes; he seceded from the Church after many struggles, and with fond and reverential regret; but passages might be quoted without end in which he acknowledges his departure from his original purpose.
Let us throw aside then all these incomplete, and therefore deceptive, analogies, and confine ourselves to the development of Christianity. Who can doubt that development ? It was inseparable from progress, from expansion. The Church, which on the day of Pentecost consisted of the Apostles and a few faithful followers, developed into a community of many thousands—that community into multiplying churches throughout the world. The hurried prayer, the simple hymn to Christ while the persecutor watched the door, developed into a grave and solemn ritual. The lonely chamber, the oratory by the seaside or in the catacomb, developed into a church and into a cathedral. The Bishop, from the head of a community without the laws of the empire, into a spiritual magistrate, recognized, endowed, honoured by the Christian emperors.
The doctrines of Christianity, for God's wise and, as we think, discernible purposes, were not presented to the mind of man as one full, and regular, and comprehensive creed, but in the various sayings of the Saviour recorded in the Gospels, and those of his Apostles. They gradually unfolded as the facts, such as the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, the effusion of the Holy Ghost, out of which they grew, followed in due course. At length they naturally assumed the form of creeds. The less important truths shrunk back into their comparative or temporary insignificance; those which were vital, essential, eternal, stood out in their commanding dignity. The laws
of Christian obedience were not drawn out, even with as much precision as those of the Levitical books, into one regular code. Great principles were established; Christian dispositions commanded; unchristian vices reproved; Christian virtues exalted. Above all, there was a certain Spirit which was to modify, and temper, and test the letter of the Scripture, and which seemed thus an appeal from God to the heart of man, at once avouching the truth of the Revelation, and affording an eternal touchstone, as it were, for its true Christianity. “No one,' says Mr. Newman himself, will say that Christianity has not always taught benevolence and mercy' (p. 5). This we accept. Will Mediæval Christianity throughout submit to this ordeal as an eternal, immutable condition of the Gospel ?
The whole history of Christianity is a development-a development of its internal powers, its irresistible influences over the mind of man. Every page of Mr. Newman's book then, so far as regards the fact of development, is true. And still further : who supposes that any one of what we presume to consider the unwarranted additions to the creed of the Gospel did not grow up by degrees, and was not the offspring in some sense of earlier doctrines? We are all Developists ; every writer of the history of Christianity describes its development.
What is wanted throughout—what is absolutely necessary, is the proof that those tenets of Mediæval Christianity, which were undeveloped till a much later period, which were unknown, or which even Mr. Newman despairs of proving to have been known in primitive and Apostolic times, all which he describes himself as an addition upon the Articles of the Creed' (p. 116), which he elsewhere calls the supplement’to Scriptural or Apostolic Christianity—the question is whether these are essential and integral parts of Christianity, to be imposed upon all Christendom on the penalty of anathema, of exclusion from the Church, and in consequence (according to the inflexible theory) irremediably from eternal life. We are thrown back upon the question of this authority, by which Christianity is still in the process of revelation, by which new Christian truths are gradually brought to light, to be received with the same veneration as those declared by our Lord and his Apostles. Mr. Newman's chapter (p. 114) on the Probability of a Developing Authority in Christianity professes to solve this momentous question. On this his whole theory of development, so far as it is to be universal, eternal Christianity, absolutely depends; yet is this chapter (we have most severely and conscientiously scrutinized our judgement) the most feeble and inconclusive in the whole book.
We will not take exception at the modest but somewhat hesitating expression, the probability’of an infallible authority, as if even Mr. Newman's courage fạiled, and his refractory logic refused to assert more. Unquestionably there are points, and those of the highest importance, on which we must rest content with high moral probability. Except in mathematics we can rarely have more. But throughout, two questions are mingled in inextricable confusion. That there is an infallible guide we all admit; but what is that guide ? The Scripture,' asserts one party. Nothing that is not in harmony, nothing which has not grown visibly, if not immediately by visible processes, and in its due proportion out of the Scriptures, is pure, eternal, immutable Christianity. Infallibility was in our Lord and in his Apostles, a living infallibility so long as they were upon earth -a living, in another sense an undying, infallibility in those written words to which we may without irreverence apply our Lord's saying, 'that they shall never pass away. The analogy of Creation, instead of being against, strongly confirms this view. God made the worlds ; He made them subject to certain laws of development; He superintends the whole by His unsleeping providence; and if He again interferes, that act of interference is a miracle. God revealed Christianity ; He endowed it with certain moral principles, with a living power of development; He watches it no doubt with parental care ; but here also His direct interposition can be no less than a miracle.
Now infallibility must be a standing miracle, at least at variance with the course of God's ordinary Providence; it must be a direct inspiration of superhuman knowledge. “Supposing the order of nature,' writes Mr. Newman, once broken by the introduction of a revelation, the continuance of that revelation is but a question of degree; and the circumstance that a work has begun makes it more probable that it will proceed.' That is, we rejoin, a revelation once made must be always making. • We have no reason to suppose that there is so great a distinction between ourselves and the first generation of Christians as that they had a living infallible guidance and we have not.' No doubt there is no such distinction. They had the living Apostles-we, we repeat, the Apostles in their living word. By Mr. Newman's argument, if it be valid, we have a most enormous advantage : sinful men that we are, that we do not profit more by it! We have, or might have, the Apostles in their writings—and besides, an infallible guide, or rather a succession of infallible guides also ; and not only guides conservative of old truths, but authorized to proclaim new ones. “As creation argues continual government, so are Apostles harbingers of Popes!' Thus the unchangeable Church is in a constant state of change! Mr. Newman might add another title to his work, «The History of the Mutability of the Immutable Church.'
But the historical development of this Infallibility is a curious phenomenon. If it lived after the Apostles, it was at first in the Apostolic churches; it was diffused throughout the writings of certain Fathers of the Church; then it dwelt in the Universal Episcopate ; then it sate in councils, where it always went with the majority (except when the majority was heretical, as at Rimini); at length, after near five centuries, it began to centralize itself—it was at last fully developed in the Pope. So slowly and doubtfully did this supreme and ultimate arbiter of true developments develop itself. And when fully and absolutely developed, to what does it amount ?
All Catholics agree in other two points, not, however, with heretics, but solely with each other: first, that the Pope with General Council cannot err either in framing decrees of faith or general precepts of morality; secondly, that the Pope, when determining anything in a doubtful matter, whether by himself or with his own particular Council, whether it is possible for him to err or not, is to be obeyed by all the faithful.-P. 125.
The italics are Mr. Newman's. And is this all that I obtain? exclaims the bewildered but earnest Christian-the privilege of obedience, of the moral blessing thus supposed to be attached to obedience, by embracing what I know, at least what I fear to be error ? Voluntary error, according to the rigid Church theory, is, at least may be, mortal sin. Alas! whither shall I fly? Private judgement is rebellion, error is death. Yet private judgement forces itself upon me; in the very sanctuary it demands of me, Is this the true sanctuary of God ? My most absolute renunciation of private judgement is an act of private judgement.
If Infallibility thus rests on the satisfaction which it affords to the harassed conscience (and, in truth, we find no other argument), how do we meet this further difficulty ? After all, what is an Infallible Church to me, speaking in vague old canons which I cannot read, in huge tomes of divinity, or dwelling aloof in a remote country? What I want is an infallible guide to my own conscience, one who will in all points at once enlighten my own mind and give me the perfect peace of spiritual security. It may be well for Mr. Newman, and learned men like Mr. Newman, to consult those deeply buried oracles of infallibility, or to find their way to the fountain-head of infallibility. Unless my spiritual pastor be likewise infallible it can be to me no consolation; at all events, I must be sure that he faithfully reports to me the words of infallibility. But he shows me his commission. Private judgement, which may perhaps be permitted to demand this, beholds it and is awed to silence. Yet I cannot help discerning that, peremptory as he is on these points, he is in all other respects an extremely ignorant man; and — though it is an uncommon case, I allow — an