« PreviousContinue »
supernatural ones begin; where Mesmerism (or something undistinguishable from Mesmerism) or Miracle is the agent in all the ecstatic visions, wonderful cures, and passionate devotions of the Middle Ages. Mr. Newman himself has limits to his faith; he does not (as yet) believe in the false Decretals, or in the works of the pseudo-Dionysius. Mr. Newman is a traitor to the Supremacy of Faith'-a mere Rationalist in comparison with the Abbé Darboy, Professor of Theology in the Seminary of Langres, who has published a translation of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, with a grave and learned preface, actually maintaining the authenticity of these books as the genuine remains of St. Paul's Athenian convert. Verily the Abbé Darboy puts this degenerate nineteenth century, Catholic as well as Protestant, to shame. May we venture one further inquiry? Will Mr. Newman vouchsafe his presence at the next exhibition of the seamless coat of Treves, if, indeed, Bishop Arnoldi has courage to venture a second exhibition ?
In sober earnestness, the great question—this solemn arbitrement between Faith and Reason—requires to be examined with a more dispassionate judgement and larger philosophy than Mr. Newman has brought to bear upon it. The important distinction in the sounder German philosophy between Vernunft (the perfect Reason—we have no corresponding term) and Verstand, may be called in, as Dr. Arnold suggests, with some advantage. We have not forgotten Mr. Newman's University Sermons, which if in our judgement far from exhaustive, satisfactory, or conclusive, are suggestive of much deep and important thought, of much true if not complete philosophy. If we remember, he comes at last to the one test of faith, 'its working by love.' It is the Christian disposition which embraces, warrants, purifies, and at the same time tries the faith. Would that on these terms Christendom could come to a truce! Let us all endeavour to become good Christians, Christians in love as in faith, and we shall approximate to truth far more nearly than by years of controversy. Though even here we fear that we shall hardly agree in our first principle. Mr. Newman's will be an ascetic, gloomy, self-torturing, monastic, though deeply devout Christianity; ours an active, cheerful, intelligent, domestic, English, and therefore more practical, though it may be less imaginative or ceremonial faith.
But, after all, this controversy, as it is really brought to issue in the present day, rests far below these abstruse inquiries into the legitimate province of Faith and of Reason. Mr. Newman writes of Reason, as of a slow and regular intellectual process; a working out of truth by profound meditation, which few have the ability, still fewer the leisure, in this busy age, to pursue. But there is an intuitive reason, which we presume to think a competent judge in great part of the debate; at least, we are sure that most men will be guided by its verdict. There is a, homely quality, called common sense, especially strong in our practical Anglo-Saxon race. The vast mass of men endowed with this gift will persist in taking their Christianity from the New Testament rather than from the long range of Eccle-, siastical History: they know that the New Testament is not merely the most authoritative, but likewise the oldest record of their faith; and they will find it difficult to understand how doctrines, of which our Lord vouchsafes not the least hint, and of which the Apostles betrayed in all their writings not the slightest knowledge, can be essential to their salvation. They will be utterly perplexed with the notion that the Son of God made a revelation to mankind, a revelation of mercy and truth, and yet left that revelation to be completed (for every addition must either be an improvement, an elucidation, or an unwarranted excrescence) by man at the close of fourteen or fifteen centuries. If a new object of worship, seemingly altogether excluded not merely by the silence of the Scripture, but by an apparently jealous reservation of divine honours to the Persons of the Holy Trinity, should have arisen five centuries after the death of Christ, and claim, if theoretically subordinate, practically equal or superior honours; if this common-sense Christian, when he reads of One Mediator
between God and man, should discover an infinite multitude of intermediate Intercessors, at least, coming between him and the throne of grace, he will have almost an invincible repugnance to submit to an authority, in itself of very uncertain and questionable date.
None of the points at issue between English Protestantism and Rome seem to demand any painful or sustained effort of thought, any profound instruction in the science of logic, any laborious study of history, as far as the single question, whether they are Scriptural or not. On those, in whose hereditary creed they find no place, they can only be enforced by a very slow and very subtle process. How long has Mr. Newman, with all his tendencies and with all his powers, if Mr. Newman has honestly recorded the progress of his own opinions, been occupied in reasoning himself into new forms of belief? By what painful and laborious process has he come at length to these convictions? It has been by a total surrender of the Supremacy of Faith, by reasonings which, no doubt, they have thought unanswerable, but still, by close, deep, logical reasonings (unless they will honestly admit that they have been influenced entirely by passion or temperament), that so many men, most of them young men, have given up their faith in Christianity as it came from the lips of our Lord and his Apostles, as it was taught them by their parents and instructors, for the developed Christianity of later centuries.
III. The third test is the Power of Assimilation; we quote at once one of the definitions, and one of the illustrations of this process :
The idea never was that throve and lasted, yet, like mathematical truth, incorporated nothing from external sources. So far from the fact of such incorporation implying corruption, as is sometimes supposed, development implies incorporation. Mahometanism may be in external developments scarcely more than a compound of other theologies, yet no one would deny that there has been a living idea somewhere in that religion, which has been so strong, so wide, so lasting a bond of union in the history of the world. Why it has not continued to develope after its first preaching, if this be the case, as it seems to be,
cannot be determined without a greater knowledge of that religion, and how far it is merely political, how far theological, than we commonly possess.-P. 75.
Here again a wider knowledge of history would have furnished Mr. Newman with a strong analogical refutation of his own doctrines. Mahometanism has passed through almost the same stages of development' as Christianity; it has admitted mysticism, monasticism, cultivated Grecian, and anticipated scholastic philosophy.
But who shall say that Haroun Alraschid, or Akbar, or the gorgeous and peaceful Caliphs of Cordova, are the legitimate representatives of the old warrior Ismaelite? The idea of Mahometanism—there is one God and Mahomet is his Prophet - has lived through all these changes; but read the Koran, and then examine all that is known in Europe of Arabian letters and Arabian theology, and who will deny that the Wahabies are more true to the original faith of Mahomet? We think that we could work out an instructive parallel between the developments of Christianity and of Mahometanism —but the reviewer
Æstuat infelix angusto in limite.
As into Christianity, so Orientalism worked its way at an early period into Mahometanism. Mahomet hated monkery. There is an old traditional proverb (quoted by Tholuck, •Sufismus,' p. 47), · Be there no monasticism in Mahometanism.' Yet, not long after the Prophet's death, Mahometanism developed into Monkery; and, ever since, the Islamite Anchorite of the Desert, the Dervise, and even the Coenobite affect the wildest asceticism, forswear the privilege, or renounce the duty, of the married state ; live as contemplative hermits, or as begging friars. So too the stern and austere Monotheism developed into a mystic Pantheism. Among the burners of the Alexandrian Library, a vast theology grew up. The
? Compare a small volume, which throws more light on the history of Arabian philosophy than any European work with which we are acquainted, Essai sur les
peculiar genius of the people is Aristotelian rather than Platonic, yet even Platonism has found its votaries among them. We are inclined to think, that but for the hatred and constant antagonism of image-worshipping Christianity, their Iconoclasm might have been in danger. The arabesques in which they freely indulge seem longing, as it were, to trespass on animal, if not on human, forms. Omar or Abubeker, we suspect, would have wielded his shattering mace without mercy in the halls of the Fatimites, or those of the Alhambra.
The Dogmatic and Sacramental Principles presided, according to Mr. Newman, over the working of this third process. Under these principles grew up the theological science of Mediæval Christianity; principles, the first of which is disclaimed by no description of Christians, though it may be asserted by some in a less peremptory and more limited manner; the latter is strongly maintained, at least by the Church of England, though it confines itself to strictly Scriptural sacraments. Here, however, we encounter one of the most extraordinary passages in this singular work :
Not in one principle or doctrine only, but in its whole system, Montanism is a remarkable anticipation or presage of developments which soon began to show themselves in the Church, though they were not perfected for centuries after. Its rigid maintenance of the original creed, yet its admission of a development, at least in the ritual, has just been instanced in the person of Tertullian. Equally Catholic in their principle, whether in fact or anticipation, were most of the other peculiarities of Montanism : its rigorous fasts, its visions, its commendation of celibacy and martyrdom, its contempt of temporal goods, its penitential discipline, and its centre of unity. The doctrinal determinations and the ecclesiastical usages of the middle ages are the true fulfilment
Écoles philosophiques chez les Arabes, par Auguste Schmölders, Paris, 1842. 'La masse des prétendus philosophes est si grande, leurs ouvrages sont numériquement si prodigieux, que toute la scolastique est bien pauvre en comparaison des Arabes.' - Introduction, p. 50. They have their Nominalists, Realists, Conceptualists, Mystics, Roscelins, Anselms, Abelards, Bonaventuras. Conceive the rude and straightforward fatalism of Mahomet thus developed. There is another curious analogy, which we must quote. These are the words of an Arabic writer :- Le seigneur des prophètes le très-véridique nous a parlé d'avance, lorsqu'il dit, “Mon église sera divisée en plus de soixante-dix sectes: il n'y en a qu'une qui sera sauvée, les autres iront à l'enfer;" or ce qu'il a prédit, est arrivé.'—P. 17.