An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
Part 1, Chapter 4: Instances in Illustration
INSTANCES IN ILLUSTRATION.
It follows now to inquire how much evidence is actually producible for those large portions of the present Creed of Christendom, which have not a recognized place in the primordial idea and the historical outline of the Religion, yet which come to us with certain antecedent considerations strong enough in reason to raise the effectiveness of that evidence to a point disproportionate, as I have allowed, to its intrinsic value. In urging these considerations here, of course I exclude for the time the force of the Church's claim of infallibility in her acts, for which so much can be said, but I do not exclude the logical cogency of those acts, considered as testimonies to the faith of the times before them.
My argument then is this:--that, from the first age of Christianity, its teaching looked towards those ecclesiastical dogmas, afterwards recognized and defined, with (as time went on) more or less determinate advance in the direction of them; till at length that advance became so pronounced, as to justify their definition and to bring it about, and to place them in the position of rightful interpretations and keys of the remains and the records in history of the teaching which had so terminated.
This line of argument is not unlike that which is considered to constitute a sufficient proof of truths in physical science. An instance of this is furnished us in a work on Mechanics of the past generation, by a writer of name, and his explanation of it will serve as an introduction to our immediate subject. After treating of the laws of motion, he goes on to observe, "These laws are the simplest principles to which motion can be reduced, and upon them the whole theory depends. They are not indeed self-evident, nor do they admit of accurate proof by experiment, on account of the great nicety required in adjusting the instruments and making the experiments; and on account of the effects of friction, and the air's resistance, which cannot entirely be removed. They are, however, constantly, and invariably, suggested to our senses, and they agree with experiment as far as experiment can go; and the more accurately the experiments are made, and the greater care we take to remove all those impediments which tend to render the conclusions erroneous, the more nearly do the experiments coincide with these laws."[123:1] And thus a converging evidence in favour of certain doctrines may, under circumstances, be as clear a proof of their Apostolical origin as can be reached practically from the _Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus_.
In such a method of proof there is, first, an imperfect, secondly, a growing evidence, thirdly, in consequence a delayed inference and judgment, fourthly, reasons producible to account for the delay.
INSTANCES CURSORILY NOTICED.
(1.) _Canon of the New Testament._
As regards the New Testament, Catholics and Protestants receive the same books as canonical and inspired; yet among those books some are to be found, which certainly have no right there if, following the rule of Vincentius, we receive nothing as of divine authority but what has been received always and everywhere. The degrees of evidence are very various for one book and another. "It is confessed," says Less, "that not all the Scriptures of our New Testament have been received with universal consent as genuine works of the Evangelists and Apostles. But that man must have predetermined to oppose the most palpable truths, and must reject all history, who will not confess that the _greater_ part of the New Testament has been universally received as authentic, and that the remaining books have been acknowledged as such by the _majority_ of the ancients."[124:1]
For instance, as to the Epistle of St. James. It is true, it is contained in the old Syriac version in the second century; but Origen, in the third century, is the first writer who distinctly mentions it among the Greeks; and it is not quoted by name by any Latin till the fourth. St. Jerome speaks of its gaining credit "by degrees, in process of time." Eusebius says no more than that it had been, up to his time, acknowledged by the majority; and he classes it with the Shepherd of St. Hermas and the Epistle of St. Barnabas.[124:2]
Again: "The Epistle to the Hebrews, though received in the East, was not received in the Latin Churches till St. Jerome's time. St. Irenæus either does not affirm, or denies that it is St. Paul's. Tertullian ascribes it to St. Barnabas. Caius excludes it from his list. St. Hippolytus does not receive it. St. Cyprian is silent about it. It is doubtful whether St. Optatus received it."[124:3]
Again, St. Jerome tells us, that in his day, towards A.D. 400, the Greek Church rejected the Apocalypse, but the Latin received it.
Again: "The New Testament consists of twenty-seven books in all, though of varying importance. Of these, fourteen are not mentioned at all till from eighty to one hundred years after St. John's death, in which number are the Acts, the Second to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Colossians, the Two to the Thessalonians, and St. James. Of the other thirteen, five, viz. St. John's Gospel, the Philippians, the First to Timothy, the Hebrews, and the First of St. John are quoted but by one writer during the same period."[125:1]
On what ground, then, do we receive the Canon as it comes to us, but on the authority of the Church of the fourth and fifth centuries? The Church at that era decided--not merely bore testimony, but passed a judgment on former testimony,--decided, that certain books were of authority. And on what ground did she so decide? on the ground that hitherto a decision had been impossible, in an age of persecution, from want of opportunities for research, discussion, and testimony, from the private or the local character of some of the books, and from misapprehension of the doctrine contained in others. Now, however, facilities were at length given for deciding once for all on what had been in suspense and doubt for three centuries. On this subject I will quote another passage from the same Tract: "We depend upon the fourth and fifth centuries thus:--As to Scripture, former centuries do not speak distinctly, frequently, or unanimously, except of some chief books, as the Gospels; but we see in them, as we believe, an ever-growing tendency and approximation to that full agreement which we find in the fifth. The testimony given at the latter date is the limit to which all that has been before said converges. For instance, it is commonly said, _Exceptio probat regulam_; when we have reason to think that a writer or an age would have witnessed so and so, _but for_ this or that, and that this or that were mere accidents of his position, then he or it may be said to _tend towards_ such testimony. In this way the first centuries tend towards the fifth. Viewing the matter as one of moral evidence, we seem to see in the testimony of the fifth the very testimony which every preceding century gave, accidents excepted, such as the present loss of documents once extant, or the then existing misconceptions which want of intercourse between the Churches occasioned. The fifth century acts as a comment on the obscure text of the centuries before it, and brings out a meaning, which with the help of the comment any candid person sees really to be theirs."[126:1]
(2.) _Original Sin._
I have already remarked upon the historical fact, that the recognition of Original Sin, considered as the consequence of Adam's fall, was, both as regards general acceptance and accurate understanding, a gradual process, not completed till the time of Augustine and Pelagius. St. Chrysostom lived close up to that date, but there are passages in his works, often quoted, which we should not expect to find worded as they stand, if they had been written fifty years later. It is commonly, and reasonably, said in explanation, that the fatalism, so prevalent in various shapes pagan and heretical, in the first centuries, was an obstacle to an accurate apprehension of the consequences of the fall, as the presence of the existing idolatry was to the use of images. If this be so, we have here an instance of a doctrine held back for a time by circumstances, yet in the event forcing its way into its normal shape, and at length authoritatively fixed in it, that is, of a doctrine held implicitly, then asserting itself, and at length fully developed.
(3.) _Infant Baptism._
One of the passages of St. Chrysostom to which I might refer is this, "We baptize infants, though they are not defiled with sin, that they may receive sanctity, righteousness, adoption, heirship, brotherhood with Christ, and may become His members." (_Aug. contr. Jul._ i. 21.) This at least shows that he had a clear view of the importance and duty of infant baptism, but such was not the case even with saints in the generation immediately before him. As is well known, it was not unusual in that age of the Church for those, who might be considered catechumens, to delay their baptism, as Protestants now delay reception of the Holy Eucharist. It is difficult for us at this day to enter into the assemblage of motives which led to this postponement; to a keen sense and awe of the special privileges of baptism which could only once be received, other reasons would be added,--reluctance to being committed to a strict rule of life, and to making a public profession of religion, and to joining in a specially intimate fellowship or solidarity with strangers. But so it was in matter of fact, for reasons good or bad, that infant baptism, which is a fundamental rule of Christian duty with us, was less earnestly insisted on in early times.
Even in the fourth century St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Basil, and St. Augustine, having Christian mothers, still were not baptized till they were adults. St. Gregory's mother dedicated him to God immediately on his birth; and again when he had come to years of discretion, with the rite of taking the gospels into his hands by way of consecration. He was religiously-minded from his youth, and had devoted himself to a single life. Yet his baptism did not take place till after he had attended the schools of Cæsarea, Palestine, and Alexandria, and was on his voyage to Athens. He had embarked during the November gales, and for twenty days his life was in danger. He presented himself for baptism as soon as he got to land. St. Basil was the son of Christian confessors on both father's and mother's side. His grandmother Macrina, who brought him up, had for seven years lived with her husband in the woods of Pontus during the Decian persecution. His father was said to have wrought miracles; his mother, an orphan of great beauty of person, was forced from her unprotected state to abandon the hope of a single life, and was conspicuous in matrimony for her care of strangers and the poor, and for her offerings to the churches. How religiously she brought up her children is shown by the singular blessing, that four out of ten have since been canonized as Saints. St. Basil was one of these; yet the child of such parents was not baptized till he had come to man's estate,--till, according to the Benedictine Editor, his twenty-first, and perhaps his twenty-ninth, year. St. Augustine's mother, who is herself a Saint, was a Christian when he was born, though his father was not. Immediately on his birth, he was made a catechumen; in his childhood he fell ill, and asked for baptism. His mother was alarmed, and was taking measures for his reception into the Church, when he suddenly got better, and it was deferred. He did not receive baptism till the age of thirty-three, after he had been for nine years a victim of Manichæan error. In like manner, St. Ambrose, though brought up by his mother and holy nuns, one of them his own sister St. Marcellina, was not baptized till he was chosen bishop at the age of about thirty-four, nor his brother St. Satyrus till about the same age, after the serious warning of a shipwreck. St. Jerome too, though educated at Rome, and so far under religious influences, as, with other boys, to be in the observance of Sunday, and of devotions in the catacombs, had no friend to bring him to baptism, till he had reached man's estate and had travelled.
Now how are the modern sects, which protest against infant baptism, to be answered by Anglicans with this array of great names in their favour? By the later rule of the Church surely; by the _dicta_ of some later Saints, as by St. Chrysostom; by one or two inferences from Scripture; by an argument founded on the absolute necessity of Baptism for salvation,--sufficient reasons certainly, but impotent to reverse the fact that neither in Dalmatia nor in Cappadocia, neither in Rome, nor in Africa, was it then imperative on Christian parents, as it is now, to give baptism to their young children. It was on retrospect and after the truths of the Creed had sunk into the Christian mind, that the authority of such men as St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustine brought round the _orbis terrarum_ to the conclusion, which the infallible Church confirmed, that observance of the rite was the rule, and the non-observance the exception.
(4.) _Communion in one kind._
In the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Council of Constance pronounced that, "though in the primitive Church the Sacrament" of the Eucharist "was received by the faithful under each kind, yet the custom has been reasonably introduced, for the avoiding of certain dangers and scandals, that it should be received by the consecrators under each kind, and by the laity only under the kind of Bread; since it is most firmly to be believed, and in no wise doubted, that the whole Body and Blood of Christ is truly contained as well under the kind of Bread as under the kind of Wine."
Now the question is, whether the doctrine here laid down, and carried into effect in the usage here sanctioned, was entertained by the early Church, and may be considered a just development of its principles and practices. I answer that, starting with the presumption that the Council has ecclesiastical authority, which is the point here to be assumed, we shall find quite enough for its defence, and shall be satisfied to decide in the affirmative; we shall readily come to the conclusion that Communion under either kind is lawful, each kind conveying the full gift of the Sacrament.
For instance, Scripture affords us two instances of what may reasonably be considered the administration of the form of Bread without that of Wine; viz. our Lord's own example towards the two disciples at Emmaus, and St. Paul's action at sea during the tempest. Moreover, St. Luke speaks of the first Christians as continuing in the "_breaking of bread_, and in prayer," and of the first day of the week "when they came together to _break bread_."
And again, in the sixth chapter of St. John, our Lord says absolutely, "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." And, though He distinctly promises that we shall have it granted to us to drink His blood, as well as to eat His flesh; nevertheless, not a word does He say to signify that, as He is the Bread from heaven and the living Bread, so He is the heavenly, living Wine also. Again, St. Paul says that "whosoever shall eat this Bread _or_ drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord."
Many of the types of the Holy Eucharist, as far as they go, tend to the same conclusion; as the Manna, to which our Lord referred, the Paschal Lamb, the Shewbread, the sacrifices from which the blood was poured out, and the miracle of the loaves, which are figures of the bread alone; while the water from the rock, and the Blood from our Lord's side correspond to the wine without the bread. Others are representations of both kinds; as Melchizedek's feast, and Elijah's miracle of the meal and oil.
And, further, it certainly was the custom in the early Church, under circumstances, to communicate in one kind, as we learn from St. Cyprian, St. Dionysius, St. Basil, St. Jerome, and others. For instance, St. Cyprian speaks of the communion of an infant under Wine, and of a woman under Bread; and St. Ambrose speaks of his brother in shipwreck folding the consecrated Bread in a handkerchief, and placing it round his neck; and the monks and hermits in the desert can hardly be supposed to have been ordinarily in possession of consecrated Wine as well as Bread. From the following Letter of St. Basil, it appears that, not only the monks, but the whole laity of Egypt ordinarily communicated in Bread only. He seems to have been asked by his correspondent, whether in time of persecution it was lawful, in the absence of priest or deacon, to take the communion "in one's own _hand_," that is, of course, the Bread; he answers that it may be justified by the following parallel cases, in mentioning which he is altogether silent about the Cup. "It is plainly no fault," he says, "for long custom supplies instances enough to sanction it. For all the monks in the desert, where there is no priest, keep the communion at home, and partake it from themselves. In Alexandria too, and in Egypt, each of the laity, for the most part, has the Communion in his house, and, when he will, he partakes it by means of himself. For when once the priest has celebrated the Sacrifice and given it, he who takes it as a whole together, and then partakes of it daily, reasonably ought to think that he partakes and receives from him who has given it."[132:1] It should be added, that in the beginning of the Letter he may be interpreted to speak of communion in both kinds, and to say that it is "good and profitable."
Here we have the usage of Pontus, Egypt, Africa, and Milan. Spain may be added, if a late author is right in his view of the meaning of a Spanish Canon;[132:2] and Syria, as well as Egypt, at least at a later date, since Nicephorus[132:3] tells us that the Acephali, having no Bishops, kept the Bread which their last priests had consecrated, and dispensed crumbs of it every year at Easter for the purposes of Communion.
But it may be said, that after all it is so very hazardous and fearful a measure actually to withdraw from Christians one-half of the Sacrament, that, in spite of these precedents, some direct warrant is needed to reconcile the mind to it. There might have been circumstances which led St. Cyprian, or St. Basil, or the Apostolical Christians before them to curtail it, about which we know nothing. It is not therefore safe in us, because it was safe in them. Certainly a warrant is necessary; and just such a warrant is the authority of the Church. If we can trust her implicitly, there is nothing in the state of the evidence to form an objection to her decision in this instance, and in proportion as we find we can trust her does our difficulty lessen. Moreover, children, not to say infants, were at one time admitted to the Eucharist, at least to the Cup; on what authority are they now excluded from Cup and Bread also? St. Augustine considered the usage to be of Apostolical origin; and it continued in the West down to the twelfth century; it continues in the East among Greeks, Russo-Greeks, and the various Monophysite Churches to this day, and that on the ground of its almost universality in the primitive Church.[133:1] Is it a greater innovation to suspend the Cup, than to cut off children from Communion altogether? Yet we acquiesce in the latter deprivation without a scruple. It is safer to acquiesce with, than without, an authority; safer with the belief that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, than with the belief that in so great a matter she is likely to err.
(5.) _The Homoüsion._
The next instance I shall take is from the early teaching on the subject of our Lord's Consubstantiality and Co-eternity.
In the controversy carried on by various learned men in the seventeenth and following century, concerning the statements of the early Fathers on this subject, the one party determined the patristic theology by the literal force of the separate expressions or phrases used in it, or by the philosophical opinions of the day; the other, by the doctrine of the Catholic Church, as afterwards authoritatively declared. The one party argued that those Fathers _need not_ have meant more than what was afterwards considered heresy; the other answered that there is _nothing to prevent_ their meaning more. Thus the position which Bull maintains seems to be nothing beyond this, that the Nicene Creed is a natural key for interpreting the body of Ante-nicene theology. His very aim is to explain difficulties; now the notion of difficulties and their explanation implies a rule to which they are apparent exceptions, and in accordance with which they are to be explained. Nay, the title of his work, which is a "Defence of the Creed of Nicæa," shows that he is not investigating what is true and what false, but explaining and justifying a foregone conclusion, as sanctioned by the testimony of the great Council. Unless the statements of the Fathers had suggested difficulties, his work would have had no object. He allows that their language is not such as they would have used after the Creed had been imposed; but he says in effect that, if we will but take it in our hands and apply it equitably to their writings, we shall bring out and harmonize their teaching, clear their ambiguities, and discover their anomalous statements to be few and insignificant. In other words, he begins with a presumption, and shows how naturally facts close round it and fall in with it, if we will but let them. He does this triumphantly, yet he has an arduous work; out of about thirty writers whom he reviews, he has, for one cause or other, to "explain piously" nearly twenty.
OUR LORD'S INCARNATION AND THE DIGNITY OF HIS BLESSED MOTHER AND OF ALL SAINTS.
Bishop Bull's controversy had regard to Ante-nicene writers only, and to little more than to the doctrine of the Divine Son's consubstantiality and co-eternity; and, as being controversy, it necessarily narrows and dries up a large and fertile subject. Let us see whether, treated historically, it will not present itself to us in various aspects which may rightly be called developments, as coming into view, one out of another, and following one after another by a natural order of succession.
First then, that the language of the Ante-nicene Fathers, on the subject of our Lord's Divinity, may be far more easily accommodated to the Arian hypothesis than can the language of the Post-nicene, is agreed on all hands. Thus St. Justin speaks of the Son as subservient to the Father in the creation of the world, as seen by Abraham, as speaking to Moses from the bush, as appearing to Joshua before the fall of Jericho,[135:1] as Minister and Angel, and as numerically distinct from the Father. Clement, again, speaks of the Word[135:2] as the "Instrument of God," "close to the Sole Almighty;" "ministering to the Omnipotent Father's will;"[135:3] "an energy, so to say, or operation of the Father," and "constituted by His will as the cause of all good."[135:4] Again, the Council of Antioch, which condemned Paul of Samosata, says that He "appears to the Patriarchs and converses with them, being testified sometimes to be an Angel, at other times Lord, at others God;" that, while "it is impious to think that the God of all is called an Angel, the Son is the Angel of the Father."[136:1] Formal proof, however, is unnecessary; had not the fact been as I have stated it, neither Sandius would have professed to differ from the Post-nicene Fathers, nor would Bull have had to defend the Ante-nicene.
One principal change which took place, as time went on, was the following: the Ante-nicene Fathers, as in some of the foregoing extracts, speak of the Angelic visions in the Old Testament as if they were appearances of the Son; but St. Augustine introduced the explicit doctrine, which has been received since his date, that they were simply Angels, through whom the Omnipresent Son manifested Himself. This indeed is the only interpretation which the Ante-nicene statements admitted, as soon as reason began to examine what they did mean. They could not mean that the Eternal God could really be seen by bodily eyes; if anything was seen, that must have been some created glory or other symbol, by which it pleased the Almighty to signify His Presence. What was heard was a sound, as external to His Essence, and as distinct from His Nature, as the thunder or the voice of the trumpet, which pealed along Mount Sinai; what it was had not come under discussion till St. Augustine; both question and answer were alike undeveloped. The earlier Fathers spoke as if there were no medium interposed between the Creator and the creature, and so they seemed to make the Eternal Son the medium; what it really was, they had not determined. St. Augustine ruled, and his ruling has been accepted in later times, that it was not a mere atmospheric phenomenon, or an impression on the senses, but the material form proper to an Angelic presence, or the presence of an Angel in that material garb in which blessed Spirits do ordinarily appear to men. Henceforth the Angel in the bush, the voice which spoke with Abraham, and the man who wrestled with Jacob, were not regarded as the Son of God, but as Angelic ministers, whom He employed, and through whom He signified His presence and His will. Thus the tendency of the controversy with the Arians was to raise our view of our Lord's Mediatorial acts, to impress them on us in their divine rather than their human aspect, and to associate them more intimately with the ineffable glories which surround the Throne of God. The Mediatorship was no longer regarded in itself, in that prominently subordinate place which it had once occupied in the thoughts of Christians, but as an office assumed by One, who though having become man in order to bear it, was still God.[137:1] Works and attributes, which had hitherto been assigned to the Economy or to the Sonship, were now simply assigned to the Manhood. A tendency was also elicited, as the controversy proceeded, to contemplate our Lord more distinctly in His absolute perfections, than in His relation to the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus, whereas the Nicene Creed speaks of the "Father Almighty," and "His Only-begotten Son, our Lord, God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God," and of the Holy Ghost, "the Lord and Giver of Life," we are told in the Athanasian of "the Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal," and that "none is afore or after other, none is greater or less than another."
The Apollinarian and Monophysite controversy, which followed in the course of the next century, tended towards a development in the same direction. Since the heresies, which were in question, maintained, at least virtually, that our Lord was not man, it was obvious to insist on the passages of Scripture which describe His created and subservient nature, and this had the immediate effect of interpreting of His manhood texts which had hitherto been understood more commonly of His Divine Sonship. Thus, for instance, "My Father is greater than I," which had been understood even by St. Athanasius of our Lord as God, is applied by later writers more commonly to His humanity; and in this way the doctrine of His subordination to the Eternal Father, which formed so prominent a feature in Ante-nicene theology, comparatively fell into the shade.
And coincident with these changes, a most remarkable result is discovered. The Catholic polemic, in view of the Arian and Monophysite errors, being of this character, became the natural introduction to the _cultus Sanctorum_; for in proportion as texts descriptive of created mediation ceased to belong to our Lord, so was a room opened for created mediators. Nay, as regards the instance of Angelic appearances itself, as St. Augustine explained them, if those appearances were creatures, certainly creatures were worshipped by the Patriarchs, not indeed in themselves,[138:1] but as the token of a Presence greater than themselves. When "Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God," he hid his face before a creature; when Jacob said, "I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved," the Son of God was there, but what he saw, what he wrestled with, was an Angel. When "Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship before the captain of the Lord's host, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?" what was seen and heard was a glorified creature, if St. Augustine is to be followed; and the Son of God was in him.
And there were plain precedents in the Old Testament for the lawfulness of such adoration. When "the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle-door," "all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent-door."[139:1] When Daniel too saw "a certain man clothed in linen" "there remained no strength" in him, for his "comeliness was turned" in him "into corruption." He fell down on his face, and next remained on his knees and hands, and at length "stood trembling," and said "O my Lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my Lord talk with this my Lord?"[139:2] It might be objected perhaps to this argument, that a worship which was allowable in an elementary system might be unlawful when "grace and truth" had come "through Jesus Christ;" but then it might be retorted surely, that that elementary system had been emphatically opposed to all idolatry, and had been minutely jealous of everything which might approach to favouring it. Nay, the very prominence given in the Pentateuch to the doctrine of a Creator, and the comparative silence concerning the Angelic creation, and the prominence given to the Angelic creation in the later Prophets, taken together, were a token both of that jealousy, and of its cessation, as time went on. Nor can anything be concluded from St. Paul's censure of Angel worship, since the sin which he is denouncing was that of "not holding the Head," and of worshipping creatures _instead_ of the Creator as the source of good. The same explanation avails for passages like those in St. Athanasius and Theodoret, in which the worship of Angels is discountenanced.
The Arian controversy had led to another development, which confirmed by anticipation the _cultus_ to which St. Augustine's doctrine pointed. In answer to the objection urged against our Lord's supreme Divinity from texts which speak of His exaltation, St. Athanasius is led to insist forcibly on the benefits which have accrued to man through it. He says that, in truth, not Christ, but that human nature which He had assumed, was raised and glorified in Him. The more plausible was the heretical argument against His Divinity from those texts, the more emphatic is St. Athanasius's exaltation of our regenerate nature by way of explaining them. But intimate indeed must be the connexion between Christ and His brethren, and high their glory, if the language which seemed to belong to the Incarnate Word really belonged to them. Thus the pressure of the controversy elicited and developed a truth, which till then was held indeed by Christians, but less perfectly realized and not publicly recognized. The sanctification, or rather the deification of the nature of man, is one main subject of St. Athanasius's theology. Christ, in rising, raises His Saints with Him to the right hand of power. They become instinct with His life, of one body with His flesh, divine sons, immortal kings, gods. He is in them, because He is in human nature; and He communicates to them that nature, deified by becoming His, that them It may deify. He is in them by the Presence of His Spirit, and in them He is seen. They have those titles of honour by participation, which are properly His. Without misgiving we may apply to them the most sacred language of Psalmists and Prophets. "Thou art a Priest for ever" may be said of St. Polycarp or St. Martin as well as of their Lord. "He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor," was fulfilled in St. Laurence. "I have found David My servant," first said typically of the King of Israel, and belonging really to Christ, is transferred back again by grace to His Vicegerents upon earth. "I have given thee the nations for thine inheritance" is the prerogative of Popes; "Thou hast given him his heart's desire," the record of a martyr; "thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity," the praise of Virgins.
"As Christ," says St. Athanasius, "died, and was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, in order that even this so high a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word did not suffer loss in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, nay, gave it graciously to the race of man. . . . For it is the Father's glory, that man, made and then lost, should be found again; and, when done to death, that he should be made alive, and should become God's temple. For whereas the powers in heaven, both Angels and Archangels, were ever worshipping the Lord, as they are now too worshipping Him in the Name of Jesus, this is our grace and high exaltation, that, even when He became man, the Son of God is worshipped, and the heavenly powers are not startled at seeing all of us, who are of one body with Him, introduced into their realms."[141:1] In this passage it is almost said that the glorified Saints will partake in the homage paid by Angels to Christ, the True Object of all worship; and at least a reason is suggested to us by it for the Angel's shrinking in the Apocalypse from the homage of St. John, the Theologian and Prophet of the Church.[141:2] But St. Athanasius proceeds still more explicitly, "In that the Lord, even when come in human body and called Jesus, was worshipped and believed to be God's Son, and that through Him the Father is known, it is plain, as has been said, that, _not the Word_, considered as the Word, received this so great grace, _but we_. For, because of our relationship to His Body, we too have become God's temple, and in consequence have been made God's sons, so that _even in us the Lord is now worshipped_, and beholders report, as the Apostle says, that 'God is in them of a truth.'"[142:1] It appears to be distinctly stated in this passage, that those who are formally recognized as God's adopted sons in Christ, are fit objects of worship on account of Him who is in them; a doctrine which both interprets and accounts for the invocation of Saints, the _cultus_ of relics, and the religious veneration in which even the living have sometimes been held, who, being saintly, were distinguished by miraculous gifts.[142:2] Worship then is the necessary correlative of glory; and in the same sense in which created natures can share in the Creator's incommunicable glory, are they also allowed a share of that worship which is His property alone.
There was one other subject on which the Arian controversy had a more intimate, though not an immediate influence. Its tendency to give a new interpretation to the texts which speak of our Lord's subordination, has already been noticed; such as admitted of it were henceforth explained more prominently of His manhood than of His Mediatorship or His Sonship. But there were other texts which did not admit of this interpretation, and which, without ceasing to belong to Him, might seem more directly applicable to a creature than to the Creator. He indeed was really the "Wisdom in whom the Father eternally delighted," yet it would be but natural, if, under the circumstances of Arian misbelief, theologians looked out for other than the Eternal Son to be the immediate object of such descriptions. And thus the controversy opened a question which it did not settle. It discovered a new sphere, if we may so speak, in the realms of light, to which the Church had not yet assigned its inhabitant. Arianism had admitted that our Lord was both the God of the Evangelical Covenant, and the actual Creator of the Universe; but even this was not enough, because it did not confess Him to be the One, Everlasting, Infinite, Supreme Being, but as one who was made by the Supreme. It was not enough in accordance with that heresy to proclaim Him as having an ineffable origin before all worlds; not enough to place him high above all creatures as the type of all the works of God's Hands; not enough to make Him the King of all Saints, the Intercessor for man with God, the Object of worship, the Image of the Father; not enough, because it was not all, and between all and anything short of all, there was an infinite interval. The highest of creatures is levelled with the lowest in comparison of the One Creator Himself. That is, the Nicene Council recognized the eventful principle, that, while we believe and profess any being to be made of a created nature, such a being is really no God to us, though honoured by us with whatever high titles and with whatever homage. Arius or Asterius did all but confess that Christ was the Almighty; they said much more than St. Bernard or St. Alphonso have since said of the Blessed Mary; yet they left Him a creature and were found wanting. Thus there was "a wonder in heaven:" a throne was seen, far above all other created powers, mediatorial, intercessory; a title archetypal; a crown bright as the morning star; a glory issuing from the Eternal Throne; robes pure as the heavens; and a sceptre over all; and who was the predestined heir of that Majesty? Since it was not high enough for the Highest, who was that Wisdom, and what was her name, "the Mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope," "exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi, and a rose-plant in Jericho," "created from the beginning before the world" in God's everlasting counsels, and "in Jerusalem her power"? The vision is found in the Apocalypse, a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The votaries of Mary do not exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son came up to it. The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is orthodoxy.
I am not stating conclusions which were drawn out in the controversy, but of premisses which were laid, broad and deep. It was then shown, it was then determined, that to exalt a creature was no recognition of its divinity. Nor am I speaking of the Semi-Arians, who, holding our Lord's derivation from the Substance of the Father, yet denying His Consubstantiality, really did lie open to the charge of maintaining two Gods, and present no parallel to the defenders of the prerogatives of St. Mary. But I speak of the Arians who taught that the Son's Substance was created; and concerning them it is true that St. Athanasius's condemnation of their theology is a vindication of the Medieval. Yet it is not wonderful, considering how Socinians, Sabellians, Nestorians, and the like, abound in these days, without their even knowing it themselves, if those who never rise higher in their notions of our Lord's Divinity, than to consider Him a man singularly inhabited by a Divine Presence, that is, a Catholic Saint,--if such men should mistake the honour paid by the Church to the human Mother for that very honour which, and which alone, is worthy of her Eternal Son.
I have said that there was in the first ages no public and ecclesiastical recognition of the place which St. Mary holds in the Economy of grace; this was reserved for the fifth century, as the definition of our Lord's proper Divinity had been the work of the fourth. There was a controversy contemporary with those already mentioned, I mean the Nestorian, which brought out the complement of the development, to which they had been subservient; and which, if I may so speak, supplied the subject of that august proposition of which Arianism had provided the predicate. In order to do honour to Christ, in order to defend the true doctrine of the Incarnation, in order to secure a right faith in the manhood of the Eternal Son, the Council of Ephesus determined the Blessed Virgin to be the Mother of God. Thus all heresies of that day, though opposite to each other, tended in a most wonderful way to her exaltation; and the School of Antioch, the fountain of primitive rationalism, led the Church to determine first the conceivable greatness of a creature, and then the incommunicable dignity of the Blessed Virgin.
But the spontaneous or traditional feeling of Christians had in great measure anticipated the formal ecclesiastical decision. Thus the title _Theotocos_, or Mother of God, was familiar to Christians from primitive times, and had been used, among other writers, by Origen, Eusebius, St. Alexander, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory Nyssen, and St. Nilus. She had been called Ever-Virgin by others, as by St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and Didymus. By others, "the Mother of all living," as being the antitype of Eve; for, as St. Epiphanius observes, "in truth," not in shadow, "from Mary was Life itself brought into the world, that Mary might bear things living, and might become Mother of living things."[146:1] St. Augustine says that all have sinned "except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, for the honour of the Lord, I wish no question to be raised at all, when we are treating of sins." "She was alone and wrought the world's salvation," says St. Ambrose, alluding to her conception of the Redeemer. She is signified by the Pillar of the cloud which guided the Israelites, according to the same Father; and she had "so great grace, as not only to have virginity herself, but to impart it to those to whom she came;"--"the Rod out of the stem of Jesse," says St. Jerome, and "the Eastern gate through which the High Priest alone goes in and out, yet is ever shut;"--the wise woman, says St. Nilus, who "hath clad all believers, from the fleece of the Lamb born of her, with the clothing of incorruption, and delivered them from their spiritual nakedness;"--"the Mother of Life, of beauty, of majesty, the Morning Star," according to Antiochus;--"the mystical new heavens," "the heavens carrying the Divinity," "the fruitful vine by whom we are translated from death unto life," according to St. Ephraim;--"the manna which is delicate, bright, sweet, and virgin, which, as though coming from heaven, has poured down on all the people of the Churches a food pleasanter than honey," according to St. Maximus.
St. Proclus calls her "the unsullied shell which contains the pearl of price," "the sacred shrine of sinlessness," "the golden altar of holocaust," "the holy oil of anointing," "the costly alabaster box of spikenard," "the ark gilt within and without," "the heifer whose ashes, that is, the Lord's Body taken from her, cleanses those who are defiled by the pollution of sin," "the fair bride of the Canticles," "the stay (στήριγμα) of believers," "the Church's diadem," "the expression of orthodoxy." These are oratorical expressions; but we use oratory on great subjects, not on small. Elsewhere he calls her "God's only bridge to man;" and elsewhere he breaks forth, "Run through all creation in your thoughts, and see if there be equal to, or greater than, the Holy Virgin Mother of God."
Theodotus too, one of the Fathers of Ephesus, or whoever it is whose Homilies are given to St. Amphilochius:--"As debtors and God's well-affected servants, let us make confession to God the Word and to His Mother, of the gift of words, as far as we are able. . . Hail, Mother, clad in light, of the light which sets not; hail all-undefiled mother of holiness; hail most pellucid fountain of the life-giving stream!" After speaking of the Incarnation, he continues, "Such paradoxes doth the Divine Virgin Mother ever bring to us in her holy irradiations, for with her is the Fount of Life, and breasts of the spiritual and guileless milk; from which to such the sweetness, we have even now earnestly run to her, not as in forgetfulness of what has gone before, but in desire of what is to come."
To St. Fulgentius is ascribed the following: "Mary became the window of heaven, for God through her poured the True Light upon the world; the heavenly ladder, for through her did God descend upon earth. . . . . Come, ye virgins, to a Virgin, come ye who conceive to one who did conceive, ye who bear to one who bore, mothers to a Mother, ye who give suck to one who suckled, young women to the Young." Lastly, "Thou hast found grace," says St. Peter Chrysologus, "how much? he had said above, Full. And full indeed, which with full shower might pour upon and into the whole creation."[148:1]
* * * * *
Such was the state of sentiment on the subject of the Blessed Virgin, which the Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite heresies found in the Church; and on which the doctrinal decisions consequent upon them impressed a form and a consistency which has been handed on in the East and West to this day.
THE PAPAL SUPREMACY.
I will take one instance more. Let us see how, on the principles which I have been laying down and defending, the evidence lies for the Pope's Supremacy.
As to this doctrine the question is this, whether there was not from the first a certain element at work, or in existence, divinely sanctioned, which, for certain reasons, did not at once show itself upon the surface of ecclesiastical affairs, and of which events in the fourth century are the development; and whether the evidence of its existence and operation, which does occur in the earlier centuries, be it much or little, is not just such as ought to occur upon such an hypothesis.
For instance, it is true, St. Ignatius is silent in his Epistles on the subject of the Pope's authority; but if in fact that authority could not be in active operation then, such silence is not so difficult to account for as the silence of Seneca or Plutarch about Christianity itself, or of Lucian about the Roman people. St. Ignatius directed his doctrine according to the need. While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope. When the Apostles were taken away, Christianity did not at once break into portions; yet separate localities might begin to be the scene of internal dissensions, and a local arbiter in consequence would be wanted. Christians at home did not yet quarrel with Christians abroad; they quarrelled at home among themselves. St. Ignatius applied the fitting remedy. The _Sacramentum Unitatis_ was acknowledged on all hands; the mode of fulfilling and the means of securing it would vary with the occasion; and the determination of its essence, its seat, and its laws would be a gradual supply for a gradual necessity.
This is but natural, and is parallel to instances which happen daily, and may be so considered without prejudice to the divine right whether of the Episcopate or of the Papacy. It is a common occurrence for a quarrel and a lawsuit to bring out the state of the law, and then the most unexpected results often follow. St. Peter's prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. While Christians were "of one heart and one soul," it would be suspended; love dispenses with laws. Christians knew that they must live in unity, and they were in unity; in what that unity consisted, how far they could proceed, as it were, in bending it, and what at length was the point at which it broke, was an irrelevant as well as unwelcome inquiry. Relatives often live together in happy ignorance of their respective rights and properties, till a father or a husband dies; and then they find themselves against their will in separate interests, and on divergent courses, and dare not move without legal advisers. Again, the case is conceivable of a corporation or an Academical body, going on for centuries in the performance of the routine-business which came in its way, and preserving a good understanding between its members, with statutes almost a dead letter and no precedents to explain them, and the rights of its various classes and functions undefined,--then of its being suddenly thrown back by the force of circumstances upon the question of its formal character as a body politic, and in consequence developing in the relation of governors and governed. The _regalia Petri_ might sleep, as the power of a Chancellor has slept; not as an obsolete, for they never had been carried into effect, but as a mysterious privilege, which was not understood; as an unfulfilled prophecy. For St. Ignatius to speak of Popes, when it was a matter of Bishops, would have been like sending an army to arrest a housebreaker. The Bishop's power indeed was from God, and the Pope's could be no more; he, as well as the Pope, was our Lord's representative, and had a sacramental office: but I am speaking, not of the intrinsic sanctity or divinity of such an office, but of its duties.
When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred. It is not a greater difficulty that St. Ignatius does not write to the Asian Greeks about Popes, than that St. Paul does not write to the Corinthians about Bishops. And it is a less difficulty that the Papal supremacy was not formally acknowledged in the second century, than that there was no formal acknowledgment on the part of the Church of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity till the fourth. No doctrine is defined till it is violated.
And, in like manner, it was natural for Christians to direct their course in matters of doctrine by the guidance of mere floating, and, as it were, endemic tradition, while it was fresh and strong; but in proportion as it languished, or was broken in particular places, did it become necessary to fall back upon its special homes, first the Apostolic Sees, and then the See of St. Peter.
Moreover, an international bond and a common authority could not be consolidated, were it ever so certainly provided, while persecutions lasted. If the Imperial Power checked the development of Councils, it availed also for keeping back the power of the Papacy. The Creed, the Canon, in like manner, both remained undefined. The Creed, the Canon, the Papacy, Ecumenical Councils, all began to form, as soon as the Empire relaxed its tyrannous oppression of the Church. And as it was natural that her monarchical power should display itself when the Empire became Christian, so was it natural also that further developments of that power should take place when that Empire fell. Moreover, when the power of the Holy See began to exert itself, disturbance and collision would be the necessary consequence. Of the Temple of Solomon, it was said that "neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron was heard in the house, while it was in building." This is a type of the Church above; it was otherwise with the Church below, whether in the instance of Popes or Apostles. In either case, a new power had to be defined; as St. Paul had to plead, nay, to strive for his apostolic authority, and enjoined St. Timothy, as Bishop of Ephesus, to let no man despise him: so Popes too have not therefore been ambitious because they did not establish their authority without a struggle. It was natural that Polycrates should oppose St. Victor; and natural too that St. Cyprian should both extol the See of St. Peter, yet resist it when he thought it went beyond its province. And at a later day it was natural that Emperors should rise in indignation against it; and natural, on the other hand, that it should take higher ground with a younger power than it had taken with an elder and time-honoured.
We may follow Barrow here without reluctance, except in his imputation of motives.
"In the first times," he says, "while the Emperors were pagans, their [the Popes'] pretences were suited to their condition, and could not soar high; they were not then so mad as to pretend to any temporal power, and a pittance of spiritual eminency did content them."
Again: "The state of the most primitive Church did not well admit such an universal sovereignty. For that did consist of small bodies incoherently situated, and scattered about in very distant places, and consequently unfit to be modelled into one political society, or to be governed by one head, especially considering their condition under persecution and poverty. What convenient resort for direction or justice could a few distressed Christians in Egypt, Ethiopia, Parthia, India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, Cappadocia, and other parts, have to Rome!"
Again: "Whereas no point avowed by Christians could be so apt to raise offence and jealousy in pagans against our religion as this, which setteth up a power of so vast extent and huge influence; whereas no novelty could be more surprising or startling than the creation of an universal empire over the consciences and religious practices of men; whereas also this doctrine could not be but very conspicuous and glaring in ordinary practice, it is prodigious that all pagans should not loudly exclaim against it," that is, on the supposition that the Papal power really was then in actual exercise.
And again: "It is most prodigious that, in the disputes managed by the Fathers against heretics, the Gnostics, Valentinians, &c., they should not, even in the first place, allege and urge the sentence of the universal pastor and judge, as a most evidently conclusive argument, as the most efficacious and compendious method of convincing and silencing them."
Once more: "Even Popes themselves have shifted their pretences, and varied in style, according to the different circumstances of time, and their variety of humours, designs, interests. In time of prosperity, and upon advantage, when they might safely do it, any Pope almost would talk high and assume much to himself; but when they were low, or stood in fear of powerful contradiction, even the boldest Popes would speak submissively or moderately."[153:1]
On the whole, supposing the power to be divinely bestowed, yet in the first instance more or less dormant, a history could not be traced out more probable, more suitable to that hypothesis, than the actual course of the controversy which took place age after age upon the Papal supremacy.
It will be said that all this is a theory. Certainly it is: it is a theory to account for facts as they lie in the history, to account for so much being told us about the Papal authority in early times, and not more; a theory to reconcile what is and what is not recorded about it; and, which is the principal point, a theory to connect the words and acts of the Ante-nicene Church with that antecedent probability of a monarchical principle in the Divine Scheme, and that actual exemplification of it in the fourth century, which forms their presumptive interpretation. All depends on the strength of that presumption. Supposing there be otherwise good reason for saying that the Papal Supremacy is part of Christianity, there is nothing in the early history of the Church to contradict it.
It follows to inquire in what this presumption consists? It has, as I have said, two parts, the antecedent probability of a Popedom, and the actual state of the Post-nicene Church. The former of these reasons has unavoidably been touched upon in what has preceded. It is the absolute need of a monarchical power in the Church which is our ground for anticipating it. A political body cannot exist without government, and the larger is the body the more concentrated must the government be. If the whole of Christendom is to form one Kingdom, one head is essential; at least this is the experience of eighteen hundred years. As the Church grew into form, so did the power of the Pope develope; and wherever the Pope has been renounced, decay and division have been the consequence. We know of no other way of preserving the _Sacramentum Unitatis_, but a centre of unity. The Nestorians have had their "Catholicus;" the Lutherans of Prussia have their general superintendent; even the Independents, I believe, have had an overseer in their Missions. The Anglican Church affords an observable illustration of this doctrine. As her prospects have opened and her communion extended, the See of Canterbury has become the natural centre of her operations. It has at the present time jurisdiction in the Mediterranean, at Jerusalem, in Hindostan, in North America, at the Antipodes. It has been the organ of communication, when a Prime Minister would force the Church to a redistribution of her property, or a Protestant Sovereign abroad would bring her into friendly relations with his own communion. Eyes have been lifted up thither in times of perplexity; thither have addresses been directed and deputations sent. Thence issue the legal decisions, or the declarations in Parliament, or the letters, or the private interpositions, which shape the fortunes of the Church, and are the moving influence within her separate dioceses. It must be so; no Church can do without its Pope. We see before our eyes the centralizing process by which the See of St. Peter became the Sovereign Head of Christendom.
If such be the nature of the case, it is impossible, if we may so speak reverently, that an Infinite Wisdom, which sees the end from the beginning, in decreeing the rise of an universal Empire, should not have decreed the development of a sovereign ruler.
Moreover, all this must be viewed in the light of the general probability, so much insisted on above, that doctrine cannot but develope as time proceeds and need arises, and that its developments are parts of the Divine system, and that therefore it is lawful, or rather necessary, to interpret the words and deeds of the earlier Church by the determinate teaching of the later.
And, on the other hand, as the counterpart of these anticipations, we are met by certain announcements in Scripture, more or less obscure and needing a comment, and claimed by the Papal See as having their fulfilment in itself. Such are the words, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give unto Thee the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." Again: "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." And "Satan hath desired to have you; I have prayed for thee, and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Such, too, are various other indications of the Divine purpose as regards St. Peter, too weak in themselves to be insisted on separately, but not without a confirmatory power; such as his new name, his walking on the sea, his miraculous draught of fishes on two occasions, our Lord's preaching out of his boat, and His appearing first to him after His resurrection.
It should be observed, moreover, that a similar promise was made by the patriarch Jacob to Judah: "Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: the sceptre shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come;" yet this promise was not fulfilled for perhaps eight hundred years, during which long period we hear little or nothing of the tribe descended from him. In like manner, "On this rock I will build My Church," "I give unto thee the Keys," "Feed My sheep," are not precepts merely, but prophecies and promises, promises to be accomplished by Him who made them, prophecies to be fulfilled according to the need, and to be interpreted by the event,--by the history, that is, of the fourth and fifth centuries, though they had a partial fulfilment even in the preceding period, and a still more noble development in the middle ages.
A partial fulfilment, or at least indications of what was to be, there certainly were in the first age. Faint one by one, at least they are various, and are found in writers of many times and countries, and thereby illustrative of each other, and forming a body of proof. Thus St. Clement, in the name of the Church of Rome, writes to the Corinthians, when they were without a bishop; St. Ignatius of Antioch addresses the Roman Church, out of the Churches to which he writes, as "the Church, which has in dignity the first seat, of the city of the Romans,"[157:1] and implies that it was too high for his directing as being the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. St. Polycarp of Smyrna has recourse to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the heretic Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, betakes himself to Rome; Soter, Bishop of Rome, sends alms, according to the custom of his Church, to the Churches throughout the empire, and, in the words of Eusebius, "affectionately exhorted those who came to Rome, as a father his children;" the Montanists from Phrygia come to Rome to gain the countenance of its Bishop; Praxeas, from Asia, attempts the like, and for a while is successful; St. Victor, Bishop of Rome, threatens to excommunicate the Asian Churches; St. Irenæus speaks of Rome as "the greatest Church, the most ancient, the most conspicuous, and founded and established by Peter and Paul," appeals to its tradition, not in contrast indeed, but in preference to that of other Churches, and declares that "to this Church, every Church, that is, the faithful from every side must resort" or "must agree with it, _propter potiorem principalitatem_." "O Church, happy in its position," says Tertullian, "into which the Apostles poured out, together with their blood, their whole doctrine;" and elsewhere, though in indignation and bitter mockery, he calls the Pope "the Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of Bishops." The presbyters of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, complain of his doctrine to St. Dionysius of Rome; the latter expostulates with him, and he explains. The Emperor Aurelian leaves "to the Bishops of Italy and of Rome" the decision, whether or not Paul of Samosata shall be dispossessed of the see-house at Antioch; St. Cyprian speaks of Rome as "the See of Peter and the principal Church, whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise, . . whose faith has been commended by the Apostles, to whom faithlessness can have no access;" St. Stephen refuses to receive St. Cyprian's deputation, and separates himself from various Churches of the East; Fortunatus and Felix, deposed by St. Cyprian, have recourse to Rome; Basilides, deposed in Spain, betakes himself to Rome, and gains the ear of St. Stephen.
St. Cyprian had his quarrel with the Roman See, but it appears he allows to it the title of the "Cathedra Petri," and even Firmilian is a witness that Rome claimed it. In the fourth and fifth centuries this title and its logical results became prominent. Thus St. Julius (A.D. 342) remonstrated by letter with the Eusebian party for "proceeding on their own authority as they pleased," and then, as he says, "desiring to obtain our concurrence in their decisions, though we never condemned [Athanasius]. Not so have the constitutions of Paul, not so have the traditions of the Fathers directed; this is another form of procedure, a novel practice. . . . For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these things are manifest unto all men, had not these proceedings so disturbed us."[158:1] St. Athanasius, by preserving this protest, has given it his sanction. Moreover, it is referred to by Socrates; and his account of it has the more force, because he happens to be incorrect in the details, and therefore did not borrow it from St. Athanasius: "Julius wrote back," he says, "that they acted against the Canons, because they had not called him to the Council, the Ecclesiastical Canon commanding that the Churches ought not to make Canons beside the will of the Bishop of Rome."[159:1] And Sozomen: "It was a sacerdotal law, to declare invalid whatever was transacted beside the will of the Bishop of the Romans."[159:2] On the other hand, the heretics themselves, whom St. Julius withstands, are obliged to acknowledge that Rome was "the School of the Apostles and the Metropolis of orthodoxy from the beginning;" and two of their leaders (Western Bishops indeed) some years afterwards recanted their heresy before the Pope in terms of humble confession.
Another Pope, St. Damasus, in his letter addressed to the Eastern Bishops against Apollinaris (A.D. 382), calls those Bishops his sons. "In that your charity pays the due reverence to the Apostolical See, ye profit yourselves the most, most honoured sons. For if, placed as we are in that Holy Church, in which the Holy Apostle sat and taught, how it becometh us to direct the helm to which we have succeeded, we nevertheless confess ourselves unequal to that honour; yet do we therefore study as we may, if so be we may be able to attain to the glory of his blessedness."[159:3] "I speak," says St. Jerome to the same St. Damasus, "with the successor of the fisherman and the disciple of the Cross. I, following no one as my chief but Christ, am associated in communion with thy blessedness, that is, with the See of Peter. I know that on that rock the Church is built. Whosoever shall eat the Lamb outside this House is profane; if a man be not in the Ark of Noe, he shall perish when the flood comes in its power."[160:1] St. Basil entreats St. Damasus to send persons to arbitrate between the Churches of Asia Minor, or at least to make a report on the authors of their troubles, and name the party with which the Pope should hold communion. "We are in no wise asking anything new," he proceeds, "but what was customary with blessed and religious men of former times, and especially with yourself. For we know, by tradition of our fathers of whom we have inquired, and from the information of writings still preserved among us, that Dionysius, that most blessed Bishop, while he was eminent among you for orthodoxy and other virtues, sent letters of visitation to our Church at Cæsarea, and of consolation to our fathers, with ransomers of our brethren from captivity." In like manner, Ambrosiaster, a Pelagian in his doctrine, which here is not to the purpose, speaks of the "Church being God's house, whose ruler at this time is Damasus."[160:2]
"We bear," says St. Siricius, another Pope (A.D. 385), "the burden of all who are laden; yea, rather the blessed Apostle Peter beareth them in us, who, as we trust, in all things protects and defends us the heirs of his government."[160:3] And he in turn is confirmed by St. Optatus. "You cannot deny your knowledge," says the latter to Parmenian, the Donatist, "that, in the city Rome, on Peter first hath an Episcopal See been conferred, in which Peter sat, the head of all the Apostles, . . . in which one See unity might be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles should support their respective Sees; in order that he might be at once a schismatic and a sinner, who against that one See (_singularem_) placed a second. Therefore that one See (_unicam_), which is the first of the Church's prerogatives, Peter filled first; to whom succeeded Linus; to Linus, Clement; to Clement, &c., &c. . . . to Damasus, Siricius, who at this day is associated with us (_socius_), together with whom the whole world is in accordance with us, in the one bond of communion, by the intercourse of letters of peace."[161:1]
Another Pope: "Diligently and congruously do ye consult the _arcana_ of the Apostolical dignity," says St. Innocent to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 417), "the dignity of him on whom, beside those things which are without, falls the care of all the Churches; following the form of the ancient rule, which you know, as well as I, has been preserved always by the whole world."[161:2] Here the Pope appeals, as it were, to the Rule of Vincentius; while St. Augustine bears witness that he did not outstep his Prerogative, for, giving an account of this and another letter, he says, "He [the Pope] answered us as to all these matters as it was religious and becoming in the Bishop of the Apostolic See."[161:3]
Another Pope: "We have especial anxiety about all persons," says St. Celestine (A.D. 425), to the Illyrian Bishops, "on whom, in the holy Apostle Peter, Christ conferred the necessity of making all men our care, when He gave him the Keys of opening and shutting." And St. Prosper, his contemporary, confirms him, when he calls Rome "the seat of Peter, which, being made to the world the head of pastoral honour, possesses by religion what it does not possess by arms;" and Vincent of Lerins, when he calls the Pope "the head of the world."[161:4]
Another Pope: "Blessed Peter," says St. Leo (A.D. 440, &c.), "hath not deserted the helm of the Church which he had assumed. . . His power lives and his authority is pre-eminent in his See."[162:1] "That immoveableness, which, from the Rock Christ, he, when made a rock, received, has been communicated also to his heirs."[162:2] And as St. Athanasius and the Eusebians, by their contemporary testimonies, confirm St. Julius; and St. Jerome, St. Basil; and Ambrosiaster, St. Damasus; and St. Optatus, St. Siricius; and St. Augustine, St. Innocent; and St. Prosper and Vincent, St. Celestine; so do St. Peter Chrysologus, and the Council of Chalcedon confirm St. Leo. "Blessed Peter," says Chrysologus, "who lives and presides in his own See, supplies truth of faith to those who seek it."[162:3] And the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, addressing St. Leo respecting Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria: "He extends his madness even against him to whom the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Saviour, that is, against thy Apostolical holiness."[162:4] But the instance of St. Leo will occur again in a later Chapter.
The acts of the fourth century speak as strongly as its words. We may content ourselves here with Barrow's admissions:--
"The Pope's power," he says, "was much amplified by the importunity of persons condemned or extruded from their places, whether upon just accounts, or wrongfully, and by faction; for they, finding no other more hopeful place of refuge and redress, did often apply to him: for what will not men do, whither will not they go in straits? Thus did Marcion go to Rome, and sue for admission to communion there. So Fortunatus and Felicissimus in St. Cyprian, being condemned in Afric, did fly to Rome for shelter; of which absurdity St. Cyprian doth so complain. So likewise Martianus and Basilides in St. Cyprian, being outed of their Sees for having lapsed from the Christian profession, did fly to Stephen for succour, to be restored. So Maximus, the Cynic, went to Rome, to get a confirmation of his election at Constantinople. So Marcellus, being rejected for heterodoxy, went thither to get attestation to his orthodoxy, of which St. Basil complaineth. So Apiarus, being condemned in Afric for his crimes, did appeal to Rome. And, on the other side, Athanasius being with great partiality condemned by the Synod of Tyre; Paulus and other bishops being extruded from their sees for orthodoxy; St. Chrysostom being condemned and expelled by Theophilus and his complices; Flavianus being deposed by Dioscorus and the Ephesine synod; Theodoret being condemned by the same; did cry out for help to Rome. Chelidonius, Bishop of Besançon, being deposed by Hilarius of Arles for crime, did fly to Pope Leo."
Again: "Our adversaries do oppose some instances of popes meddling in the constitution of bishops; as, Pope Leo I. saith, that Anatolius did 'by the favour of his assent obtain the bishopric of Constantinople.' The same Pope is alleged as having confirmed Maximus of Antioch. The same doth write to the Bishop of Thessalonica, his vicar, that he should 'confirm the elections of bishops by his authority.' He also confirmed Donatus, an African bishop:--'We will that Donatus preside over the Lord's flock, upon condition that he remember to send us an account of his faith.' . . Pope Damasus did confirm the ordination of Peter Alexandrinus."
And again: "The Popes indeed in the fourth century began to practise a fine trick, very serviceable to the enlargement of their power; which was to confer on certain bishops, as occasion served, or for continuance, the title of their vicar or lieutenant, thereby pretending to impart authority to them; whereby they were enabled for performance of divers things, which otherwise by their own episcopal or metropolitical power they could not perform. By which device they did engage such bishops to such a dependence on them, whereby they did promote the papal authority in provinces, to the oppression of the ancient rights and liberties of bishops and synods, doing what they pleased under pretence of this vast power communicated to them; and for fear of being displaced, or out of affection to their favourer, doing what might serve to advance the papacy. Thus did Pope Celestine constitute Cyril in his room. Pope Leo appointed Anatolius of Constantinople; Pope Felix, Acacius of Constantinople. . . . . Pope Simplicius to Zeno, Bishop of Seville: 'We thought it convenient that you should be held up by the vicariat authority of our see.' So did Siricius and his successors constitute the bishops of Thessalonica to be their vicars in the diocese of Illyricum, wherein being then a member of the western empire they had caught a special jurisdiction; to which Pope Leo did refer in those words, which sometimes are impertinently alleged with reference to all bishops, but concern only Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica: 'We have entrusted thy charity to be in our stead; so that thou art called into part of the solicitude, not into plenitude of the authority.' So did Pope Zosimus bestow a like pretence of vicarious power upon the Bishop of Arles, which city was the seat of the temporal exarch in Gaul."[164:1]
More ample testimony for the Papal Supremacy, as now professed by Roman Catholics, is scarcely necessary than what is contained in these passages; the simple question is, whether the clear light of the fourth and fifth centuries may be fairly taken to interpret to us the dim, though definite, outlines traced in the preceding.
[123:1] Wood's Mechanics, p. 31.
[124:1] Authent. N. T. Tr. p. 237.
[124:2] According to Less.
[124:3] Tracts for the Times, No. 85, p. 78 [Discuss. iii. 6, p. 207].
[125:1] [Ibid. p. 209. These results are taken from Less, and are practically accurate.]
[126:1] No. 85 [Discuss. p. 236].
[132:1] Ep. 93. I have thought it best to give an over-literal translation.
[132:2] Vid. Concil. Bracar. ap. Aguirr. Conc. Hisp. t. ii. p. 676. "That the cup was not administered at the same time is not so clear; but from the tenor of this first Canon in the Acts of the Third Council of Braga, which condemns the notion that the Host should be steeped in the chalice, we have no doubt that the wine was withheld from the laity. Whether certain points of doctrine are or are not found in the Scriptures is no concern of the historian; all that he has to do is religiously to follow his guides, to suppress or distrust nothing through partiality."--_Dunham_, _Hist. of Spain and Port._ vol. i. p. 204. If _pro complemento communionis_ in the Canon merely means "for the Cup," at least the Cup is spoken of as a complement; the same view is contained in the "confirmation of the Eucharist," as spoken of in St. German's life. Vid. Lives of Saints, No. 9, p. 28.
[132:3] Niceph. Hist. xviii. 45. Renaudot, however, tells us of two Bishops at the time when the schism was at length healed. Patr. Al. Jac. p. 248. However, these had been consecrated by priests, p. 145.
[133:1] Vid. Bing. Ant. xv. 4, § 7; and Fleury, Hist. xxvi. 50, note _g_.
[135:1] Kaye's Justin, p. 59, &c.
[135:2] Kaye's Clement, p. 335.
[135:3] p. 341.
[135:4] Ib. 342.
[136:1] Reliqu. Sacr. t. ii. p. 469, 470.
[137:1] [This subject is more exactly and carefully treated in Tracts Theol. and Eccles. pp. 192-226.]
[138:1] [They also had a _cultus_ in themselves, and specially when a greater Presence did _not_ overshadow them. _Vid._ Via Media, vol. ii. art. iv. 8, note 1.]
[139:1] Exod. xxxiii. 10.
[139:2] Dan. x. 5-17.
[141:1] Athan. Orat. i. 42, Oxf. tr.
[141:2] [_Vid. supr._ p. 138, note 8.]
[142:1] Athan. ibid.
[142:2] And so Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine: "The all-holy choir of God's perpetual virgins, he was used almost to worship (σέβων), believing that that God, to whom they had consecrated themselves, was an inhabitant in the souls of such." Vit. Const. iv. 28.
[146:1] Hær. 78, 18.
[148:1] Aug. de Nat. et Grat. 42. Ambros. Ep. 1, 49, § 2. In Psalm 118, v. 3, de Instit. Virg. 50. Hier. in Is. xi. 1, contr. Pelag. ii. 4. Nil. Ep. i. p. 267. Antioch. ap. Cyr. de Rect. Fid. p. 49. Ephr. Opp. Syr. t. 3, p. 607. Max. Hom. 45. Procl. Orat. vi. pp. 225-228, p. 60, p. 179, 180, ed. 1630. Theodot. ap. Amphiloch. pp. 39, &c. Fulgent. Serm. 3, p. 125. Chrysol. Serm. 142. A striking passage from another Sermon of the last-mentioned author, on the words "She cast in her mind what manner of salutation," &c., may be added: "Quantus sit Deus satis ignorat ille, qui hujus Virginis mentem non stupet, animum non miratur. Pavet cœlum, tremunt Angeli, creatura non sustinet, natura non sufficit; et una puella sic Deum in sui pectoris capit, recipit, oblectat hospitio, ut pacem terris, cœlis gloriam, salutem perditis, vitam mortuis, terrenis cum cœlestibus parentelam, ipsius Dei cum carne commercium, pro ipsâ domûs exigat pensione, pro ipsius uteri mercede conquirat," &c. Serm. 140. [St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Alexandria sometimes speak, it is true, in a different tone; on this subject vid. "Letter to Dr. Pusey," Note iii., Diff. of Angl. vol. 2.]
[153:1] Pope's Suprem. ed. 1836, pp. 26, 27, 157, 171, 222.
[157:1] ἥτις καὶ προκάθηται ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥωμαίων.
[158:1] Athan. Hist. Tracts. Oxf. tr. p. 56.
[159:1] Hist. ii. 17.
[159:2] Hist. iii. 10.
[159:3] Theod. Hist. v. 10.
[160:1] Coustant, Epp. Pont. p. 546.
[160:2] In 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15.
[160:3] Coustant, p. 624.
[161:1] ii. 3.
[161:2] Coustant, pp. 896, 1064.
[161:3] Ep. 186, 2.
[161:4] De Ingrat. 2. Common. 41.
[162:1] Serm. De Natal. iii. 3.
[162:2] Ibid. v. 4.
[162:3] Ep. ad Eutych. fin.
[162:4] Concil. Hard. t. ii. p. 656.
[164:1] Barrow on the Supremacy, ed. 1836, pp. 263, 331, 384.
Chapter 5: Genuine Developments Contrasted with Corruptions
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine - Part 1: Doctrinal Developments Viewed in Themselves
Chapter 1: On the Development of Ideas
Chapter 2: On the Antecedent Argument in Behalf of Developments in Christian Doctrine
Chapter 3: On the Historical Argument in Behalf of the Existing Developments
Chapter 4: Instances in Illustration
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine - Part 2: Doctrinal Developments Viewed Relatively to Doctrinal Corruptions
Chapter 5: Genuine Developments Contrasted with Corruptions
Chapter 6: Application of the Seven Notes to the Existing Developments of Christian Doctrine
Chapter 7: Application of the Second Note of a True Development
Chapter 8: Application of the Third Note of a True Development
Chapter 9: Application of the Fourth Note of a True Development
Chapter 10: Application of the Fifth Note of a True Development
Chapter 11: Application of the Sixth Note of a True Development
Chapter 12: Application of the Seventh Note of a True Development
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