Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

viceroy, and marked the line of succession. But meaning to create Kingdom, or Spiritual State, He fell in with that law of Political Science, which rules that “constitutions are not made, but grow.” 'He came not to undo law, but to fulfil it (Matt. v. 17, 18), even the law of nature and human society. Though the constitution of the Church was clear in His mind, and was indicated to His Apostles with such clearness as He saw fit, He did not care to have the constitution all put into active operation from the first, but He arranged for it to grow into full operation ; and so it did grow in the fulness of time under the guidance of His ever-presiding Spirit. The monarchy worked imperfectly at first, as everything works imperfectly in an infant society. Every earthly power has been consolidated under difficulties. Christ wished the Papal monarchy to be no exception to the rule, for though not earthly, as being de jure the direct institution of Christ, still it is a power on earth. The Church, we may say so with all reverence, had her “

nursery troubles." And as of the theory and practice of Papal control, so of all other ecclesiastical dogmas and sacraments. The rule is (1) revelation, or institution, by Christ ; (2) development more

or less accelerated. Much more might be said on this theme : some more of it appears in the following pages.

DEVELOPMENT:

THOUGHTS ON BISHOP GORE'S “ ROMAN CATHOLIC CLAIMS”

S 1. The Heritage of the Past

The Roman Church has dragged along with her as a heritage of the past from which she cannot break, a 'rule of faith,' which makes a new dogma once for all equivalent to a false dogma. It has therefore been forced upon her to maintain that dogmas which have been rendered necessary by the accentuation of authority, or by the exigencies of popular devotions which it was not possible or expedient to restrain, such as Papal 111fallibility and Supremacy, the Immaculate Conception and the doctrine of Indulgences, are portions of primitive Christianity, at least in substance" (p. 12).

A Catholic replies that they legitimate developments of primitive Christianity. The Bishop practically does away with the theory of develop

are

[ocr errors]

ment of doctrine. He allows only a development of terminology. (See pp. 38, 39, 44, 56, 57, 58.)

The later Church can never know what the early Church did not. She could never have substantially clearer light . . than the Church of the second century had. What for our discipline was left obscure at first inust remain obscure” (p. 44). In the sense that would make the obligatory Christian doctrine, or common rule of faith, a germ developing in content and extent, we erchude developinent” (p. 59).

For this exclusion of development, as development is understood in Newman's great essay, Bishop Gore appeals confidently to Vincent of Lerins and his test of Catholic truth, quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab oinnibus; and seeing that such things as Indulgences, the Immaculate Conception, and Papal Infallibility have not been held always, everywhere, and by all Catholics, he argues that they cannot be truths of Catholic faith.

Let us dwell on Vincent of Lerins (A.D. 430), to whom Bishop Gore pins his faith. Why to Vincent of Lerins, an obscure monk, possibly a bonâ fide semi-Pelagian, rather than to Pope St. Leo, his contemporary? However, "to Vincent thou hast appeased, to Vincent thou shalt go." Cardinal Franzelin, De Divina Traditione et Scriptura, thesis ix., coroll. i. ; thesis xii., schol. i. ; and thesis xxiv., as quoted by Bishop Gore ; and with him Father Pesch, Praelectiones, vol. i. $ 453 ; will have it that Vincent's quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, affords only a positive criterion of Catholic truth, so that whatever has been believed always, everywhere, and by all Catholics, is of faith ; but not a negative criterion, i.e., it does not preclude a truth being of Catholic faith, although it has not been believed always, everywhere, and by all. Against these two venerable authorities I am inclined to hold with Bishop Gore that “Vincent undoubtedly meant to make his rule an exclusive test ; he excludes (cc. 20, 28), not only what is 'contrary to’ (contra), but also what is beside' (praeier), the original deposit” (p. 59). These are Vincent's words : "Whatever he (the faithful Christian) knows the Catholic Church to have held universally and from olden time, that alone he decides ought to be held and believed ; but whatever new and unheard-of doctrine he perceives to have been stealthily introduced by some one individual beside all or against all,

« PreviousContinue »