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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
though it is an uncommon case, I allow — an
immoral and unchristian man. (In Mediæval times we fear that this might have suggested itself, and did suggest itself, to very many conscientious Christians.) Am I sure that his ignorance may not have mistaken, or his immorality led him to misrepresent, this infallible message? We are unwilling in such limited space to open historic controversies; but if ancient records speak true, Infallibility on its highest throne has cowered with fear or wandered into error; Infallibility has Arianised, has Pelagianised, has Monotheletised. Infallibility has dwelt with youths under age. If it has issued from the lips of some of the best, so it has at least from some few of the worst of men.
Nor is this the difficulty of the individual alone. We have already observed that, on many of the most momentous questions, we derive no advantage from Infallibility. This is acknowledged by Mr. Newman in a remarkable passage :
To this day the rule of Scripture Interpretation, the doctrine of Inspiration, the relation of Faith to Reason, moral responsibility, private judgement, inherent grace, the seat of Infallibility! remain, I suppose, more or less undeveloped, or at least undefined by the Church.-P. 368.
Yet it is very singular that some of these are among the very points on which Mr. Newman, in order to show the probability of developments, insists as demanding the authoritative settlement of the Church. There is another point, he says, “the relation of Christianity to civil government, which must be ascertained, and the qualification for membership with it defined. On this the Infallibility of Rome throughout the Middle Ages pronounced, and in no hesitating tone. Innocent III.'s famous similitude of the sun and moon, to show the subordination of the temporal to the spiritual power, is the language more or less distinct of Infallibility. But throughout Roman Catholic Christendom is this infallible decree, or at least this declaration of an infallible arbiter, respected as the definite development of Christianity? The relation of Church and State rests in France on the constitution, in Austria on the
will of the Emperor. These decisions of Infallibility are utterly obsolete, except in the kingdom of Sardinia, and perhaps Belgium and a few of the smaller states of Italy. Nevertheless
no subject has fully developed Infallibility been more explicit. It might almost seem to have neglected all the grave, spiritual, and intellectual problems which might distract the mind of man, in order that it might carefully assign its proper place in the social system to the hierarchy. In the canons of councils, and the decrees of popes, for several ages, the dignity and power of the clergy, the sanctity of their persons, the security of their property from sacrilegious hands, might appear the special object over the development of which Infallibility was bound to watch with unslumbering care.
Thus Infallibility, imperious and dictatorial on what we do not want, or on what is not of the first necessity, seems to abandon us in our greatest need : she will bind burthens upon us, but lighten none of those under the weight of which we groan. We rest in humble hope on one Mediator. She will supply us with, and indeed compel us to receive, hosts of subsidiary intercessors at least, if not Mediators. We repose in unquestioning faith on the promises of pardon and peace in the Gospel of Christ : she will enforce upon us, as indispensable to our salvation, a vast and cumbrous system of theology, which has been accumulating for centuries. Mr. Newman's chief if not sole argument for Infallibility is its presumed necessity. We not only say that this is no argument to those who feel not the necessity, whose necessity it does not relieve; to those who rest on the sufficiency of Scripture to reveal, with as much distinctness as man may dare to hope, all that is eternal, immutable, absolutely essential in Christianity: but we submit further whether God's gifts are to be presumed according to man's supposed necessities-whether, because great advantage may seem to accrue to man from certain provisions, we have a right to conclude that God actually has made those provisions; because some of us may be distressed at the want of clearness in the revelation which God has made in the Scripture, that he
must therefore have made, be perpetually making, a clearer revelation, equally authoritative, beyond the Scriptures. With Mr. Newman's wide liberty of analogy, we might suggest that Infallibility would be of inappreciable advantage in other things besides religion. If the Queen were invested with a very limited infallibility, to discern which were the better policy on the great questions which divide the nation—or even as to the best hands in which she could confide the interests of her people—this unquestionably would be a great consolation to her Majesty, and would allay much angry and dangerous strife among her subjects. If Lord Denman were endowed with an infallible judgement as to the guilt or innocence of the unhappy criminals who are capitally arraigned before him--what unspeakable relief would it be to the mind of that humane judge—what implicit reliance would it give us all in the laws of our country! If the President of the College of Physicians possessed only the gift of discerning indisputably the attainments of those whom we entrust with the power of life and death-how great would be the diminution of mortality among us—how much would it add to individual happiness! We mean not this as a grave refutation of the question of the Infallibility of Council or Pope, but as a complete answer to the only valid argument which we can find in Mr. Newman's chapter. And even Mr. Newman seems as if unsatisfied with himself; he sinks still lower in his demands upon our belief. It is at last only an hypothesis ; and every one (he says) has an hypothesis on the development of Christianity. Gibbon has one; Gieseler has another; Baronius is ultramontane; Hurd and Newton ultra-Protestant. The question is (he proceeds), which of all these theories is the simplest, the most natural, the most persuasive ? Certainly, the notion of development under infallible authority is not a less grave, a less winning hypothesis, than the chance and coincidence of events, or the Oriental philosophy, or the working of Antichrist, to account for the rise of Christianity, and the formation of its theology. We must protest against being confounded with any of these
schools, if they are fairly represented; and yet we think that we are not reduced to rest on an undefined infallibility. But does Roman Catholicism mean to march to the reconquest of the world on the frail and tottering bridge of this · hypothesis ?' Yet it is the only way left. Mr. Newman has disdainfully thrown aside, or courteously discarded, all the older and all the later theories of Papal supremacy; clear and positive tradition—the disciplina arcani—his own doctrine of Reserve. Had Cardinal Duperron rested altogether on the * Theory of Developments,' it would have been difficult for Henry IV. gravely to play out the solemn comedy of his conversion.
Already the ground seems utterly to have broken up under Mr. Newman's feet. But to proceed : objections crowd upon us at the outset. Were these doctrines, in their full development, necessary to salvation? Why, then, may we reverently ask, were they withheld from the early Christians, who bore the heat of the fray, and bought the triumph of the Gospel, if we may so speak, by the blood of martyrdom? Why were they left with these dim and imperfect hints of such great doctrines ? Why were they worse off than the contemporaries of St. Bernard, or of Thomas Aquinas? All our fond illusions of the purity of primitive times; our blameless envy of those who heard the Gospel from apostolic lips, or the lips of apostolic men, are dissipated at once. They, it is true, laid down their lives in humble and unquestioning hope of the resurrection through Christ Jesus; but to them Purgatory was an undiscovered region. They had full trust in the death of the Redeemer, but they wanted a clear notion of the intercession of the saints. They had bishops, perhaps in the first or second descent from those on whom the Apostles laid their hands, but they had not even a vision of the majestic autocracy of the Pope. They had the New Testament fresh, as it were, from the hands of its holy writers; but from them were hidden, even from thełr prescient desires, the decrees of councils, and the solemn intricacies of scholastic theology. They had the Son of God ever present to their minds, but they had not even feeble glimpses of the