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about the Church more truly, and that first in respect of her prerogative as occupying the orbis terrarum, next in support of the claims of the See of St. Peter. í This is but one specimen of a certain law of Christian development, which is this,- a reference to Scripture throughout, and especially in its mystical sense.
1. This is a characteristic which will become more and more evident to us, the more we look for it. The divines of the Church are in every age engaged in regulating themselves by Scripture, appealing to Scripture in proof of their conclusions, and exhorting and teaching in the thoughts and language of Scripture. Scripture may be said to be the medium in which the mind of the Church has energized and developed.? When St. Methodius would enforce the doctrine of vows of celibacy, he refers to the book of Numbers; and if St. Irenæus proclaims the dignity of St. Mary, it is from a comparison of St. Luke's Gospel with Genesis. And thus St. Cyprian, in his Testimonies, rests the prerogatives of martyrdom, as indeed the whole circle of Christian doctrine, on the declaration of certain texts; and, when in his letter to Antonian he seems to allude to Purgatory, he refers to our Lord's words about “the prison” and “paying the last farthing." And if St. Ignatius exhorts to
Vid. Proph. Off. pp. 226—230. 2 A late writer goes farther, and maintains that it is not determined by the Council of Trent, whether the whole of the Revelation is in Scripture or not. Though this position be untenable, at least it is a remarkable testimony on the part of opponents to the Church's reverence for the written word. “The Synod declares that the Christian “truth and discipline are contained in written books and unwritten traditions. They were well aware that the controversy then was, whether the Christian doctrine was only in part contained in Scripture. But they did not dare to frame their decree openly in accordance with the modern Romish view; they did not venture to affirm, as they might easily have done, that the Christian verity "was contained partly in written books, and partly in unwritten traditions.'”—Palmer on the Church, vol. 2, p. 15.
unity, it is from St. Paul; and he quotes St. Luke against the Phantasiasts of his day. We have a first instance of this law in the Epistle of St. Polycarp, and a last in the practical works of St. Alphonso Liguori. St. Cyprian, or St. Ambrose, or St. Bede, or St. Bernard, or St. Carlo, or such popular books as Horstius's Paradisus Animo, are specimens of a rule which is too obvious to need formal proof. It is exemplified in the theological decisions of St. Athanasius in the fourth century, and of St. Thomas in the thirteenth; in the structure of the Canon Law, and in the Bulls and Letters of Popes. It is instanced in the notion so long prevalent in the Church, which philosophers of this day do not allow us to forget, that all truth, all science, must be derived from the inspired volume. And it is recognised as well as exemplified; recognised as distinctly by writers of the Society of Jesus, as it is copiously exemplified by the Ante-nicene Fathers.
“Scriptures are called canonical,” says Salmeron, “as having been received and set apart by the Church into the Canon of sacred books, and because they are to us a rule of right belief and good living; also because they ought to rule and moderate all other doctrines, laws, writings, whether ecclesiastical, apocryphal, or human. For as these agree with them, or at least do not disagree, so far are they admitted; but they are repudiated and reprobated so far as they differ from them even in the least matter.”'l Again : “The main subject of Scripture is nothing else than to treat of the God-Man, or the Man-God, Christ Jesus, not only in the New Testament, which is open, but in the Old . . . . . . For whereas Scripture contains nothing but the precepts of belief and conduct, or faith and works, the end and the means towards it, the Creator and the creature, love of God and of our neighbour, creation and redemption,
1 Opp. t. 1, p. 4.
and whereas all these are found in Christ, it follows that Christ is the proper subject of Canonical Scripture. For all matters of faith, whether concerning Creator or creatures, are recapitulated in Jesus, whom every heresy denies, according to that text, · Every spirit that denies (solvit) Jesus is not of God ;' for He as man is united to the Godhead, and as God to the manhood, to the Father from whom He is born, to the Holy Ghost who proceeds at once from Christ and the Father, to Mary His most Holy Mother, to the Church, to Scriptures, Sacraments, Saints, Angels, the Blessed, to Divine Grace, to the authority and ministers of the Church, so that it is rightly said that every heresy denies Jesus.”1 And again: “Holy Scripture is so fashioned and composed by the Holy Ghost as to be accommodated to all plans, times, persons, difficulties, dangers, diseases, the expulsion of evil, the obtaining of good, the stifling of errors, the establishment of doctrines, the ingrafting of virtues, the averting of vices. Hence it is deservedly compared by St. Basil to a dispensary which supplies various medicines against every complaint. From it did the Church in the age of Martyrs draw her firmness and fortitude; in the age of Doctors, her wisdom and light of knowledge; in the time of heretics, the overthrow of error; in time of prosperity, humility and moderation; fervour and diligence, in a lukewarm time; and in times of depravity and growing abuse, reformation from corrupt living and return to the first estate.”2
“Holy Scripture,” says Cornelius à Lapide, " contains the beginnings of all theology: for theology is nothing but the science of conclusions which are drawn from principles certain to faith, and therefore is of all sciences most august as well as certain ; but the principles of faith and faith itself doth Scripture contain; whence it evidently
1 Opp. t. i. pp. 4, 5. 2 Ibid. p. 9.
g and 11 says
follows that Holy Scripture lays down those principles of theology by which the theologian begets of the mind's reasoning his demonstrations. He, then, who thinks he can tear away Scholastic Science from the work of commenting on Holy Scripture is hoping for offspring without a mother.”1 Again: “What is the subject-matter of Scripture? Must I say it in a word ? Its aim is de omni scibili; it embraces in its bosom all studies, all that can be known: and thus it is a certain university of sciences containing all sciences either formally' or • eminently.' ”2
Nor am I aware that Post-tridentine writers deny that the whole Catholic faith may be proved from Scripture, though they would certainly maintain that it is not to be found on the surface of it, nor in such sense that it may be gained from Scripture without the aid of Tradition.
2. 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 the 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 through 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 1 Proem. 5. ?p. 4.
very basis of the proof of the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Whether we betake ourselves to the Ante-nicene writers or the Nicene, certain texts will meet us, which do not obviously refer to that doctrine, yet are put forward as palmary proofs of it. Such are, in respect of our Lord's divinity, “My heart is inditing of a good matter,” or “has burst with a good Word;” – The Lord made” or “possessed Me in the beginning of His ways;” “I was with Him, in whom He delighted;” “In Thy Light shall we see Light;" “ Who shall declare His generation ?” “ She is the Breath of the Power of God;” and “His Eternal Power and Godhead." On the other hand, the School of Antioch, which adopted the literal interpretation, was the very metropolis of heresy. Not to speak of Lucian, whose history is but imperfectly known, one of the first masters of this school, and also teacher of Arius and his principal supporters,—Diodorus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who were the most eminent masters of literalism in the succeeding generation, were, as we have seen, the forerunners of Nestorianism. The case had been the same in a still earlier age;—the Jews clung to the literal sense of the Old Testament and rejected the Gospel; the Christian Apologists proved its divinity by means of the allegorical. The formal connexion of this mode of interpretation with Christian theology is noticed by Porphyry, who speaks of Origen and others as borrowing it from heathen philosophy, both in explanation of the Old Testament and in defence of their own doctrine. It may be almost laid down as an historical fact, that the mystical interpretation and orthodoxy will stand or fall together. This is clearly seen, as regards the primitive theology, by a recent writer, in the course of a Dissertation upon St. Ephrem. After observing that Theodore of Heraclea, Eusebius, and Diodorus gave a systematic opposition to the mystical inter