The great interest which at present attaches, and which no doubt will long continue to attach to religious controversy, has put all religious communities upon their mettle. After the close of the deistical controversy of the last century, and after the subsidence of the fervour which was called forth by Methodism, a long period of intellectual repose in the Church followed. Those great controversies which had agitated the early part of the century lasted on till the time of Hey and Paley. These writers appear, on the whole, to represent the result in which, for the time being, the bulk of the orthodox part of the community rested. After their time the controversy passed, towards the close of the century, into the sphere of politics, and contributed its principal energy to the French Revolution. The fascination of that tremendous event for a certain time threw everything else into the shade, and in particular the relations between England and Rome appeared to have become tolerant and almost friendly. England afforded shelter to many of the French priests, and conferred considerable benefits on the Pope himself. The small number of English Romanists were quiet, unobtrusive, and, as a rule, on friendly terms with the institutions of the country, and those who managed them. The only really sore point in the relations between England and Rome was Ireland, and not only was that question political rather than religious, but the hostility of the Roman Catholics to the Protestants was a good deal allayed by the hostility of the Roman Catholic clergy to the Revolutionists who were the great enemies of the English Government. The political grievance, however, fretted and swelled till at length it culminated in 1829 in a storm which brought the country to the verge of civil war; and just about the same time began the attempt, of which Dr. Newman was the leader and has so lately been the historian, to make in the Church of England a sort of local counterpoise to the Church of Rome. His object was, as he has lately explained, to stem the whole current of events, and to turn the course of modern thought. Time was to run back; and the Englishmen of the nineteenth century were to be converted as far as possible into what Dr. Newman and his friends supposed the primitive Christians to have been. This conversion was to be brought about by the agency of the Church of England. Twenty-five or thirty years ago this attempt produced a fierce controversy, which died out as controversies do, and was succeeded, perhaps twenty years ago, by another considerable interval of calm. By the time that the Gorham judgment was delivered, the bulk of the laity had got to be considerably tired of the whole affair, and to suspect that the dispute between the Evangelicals and the High Church party was a matter of words, in which neither side knew very distinctly what they were talking about. As to the question between the Church of England and that of Rome, it hardly entered into the consideration of the bulk of the nation. The fact that given principles led to Rome, was universally regarded as a reductio ad absurdum of them, and as soon as Dr. Newman and a certain number of those who were under his influence became Roman Catholics, they lost their influence on the nation at large, and passed, as it were, out of sight.
Nothing could set this in a clearer light than the ferment which was excited by what was called the Papal Aggression. The excitement produced by it was a remarkable phenomenon in its way. The feeling was one in which indignation was curiously qualified by surprise. The public felt a sort of wonder at the apparition of a ghost which they supposed to have been laid for three centuries or more. The claim of the Pope to govern English counties sounded as strange and out of place as if the claimant had put himself forward as the representative of the ancient Roman Empire. The vehemence of the outcry was somewhat undignified, but there was and could be no mistake about the surprise. The nation could not understand the insolence and audacity of the Pope, and was so angry at it that it refused to recognize the undoubted fact that, insolent and ill-judged as the Pope’s language might be, the principles of religious liberty which form the most characteristic part of the English constitution undoubtedly justified his conduct, as far, at least, as its legal character was concerned.
For controversial purposes the establishment of the new hierarchy was of little importance; but there can be no doubt that, what with individual conversions, and what with the vast immigration of Irish and other Roman Catholics into England, the numbers and apparent influence of the Romish Church rapidly though silently increased for several years after 1850. Very little, however, was heard about its proceedings till lately; but since the publication of the Essays and Reviews in 1860, and the great controversy which the prosecutions directed against their authors brought to a head (it had been smouldering for many years without attracting much attention), the Roman Catholic controversy has passed into a new phase, and has attracted a kind of attention different from anything which had lately attached to it. The position which Roman Catholic controversialists in the present day assume, is singularly confident and triumphant. ‘We,’ they say, ‘are not only the true Church, but the only Church which with any degree of plausibility can hold itself out as true. We form the only possible bulwark against infidelity. If the question whether Christianity be true is to be tried as against any other Christian body, the result will be a conviction of its falsehood. We, and we alone, can uphold its truth as against infidels. This we do because we have always repudiated reason except in subordination to faith; whereas you, the Protestants, who appealed to reason as against us, and seemed to win a sort of triumph, are now defeated by your own ally. Apart from this we are the only body that can be called a Church, at least, there is no other such body in England. Protestantism is a mass of confusion. The Church of England is merely a department of the State, and has no pretension to spiritual power, whereas we spread ourselves all over the world, and have an organization which, at all events, is old and large enough to be entitled to put itself forward as the depository of a supernatural revelation.’ The contempt which the Church of Rome pours upon reason, the obvious fact that it is an enormously large and highly organized body, and that it exists independently of civil governments, and sometimes in spite of their disapprobation, the apparent consistency and system of its position, and the plausibility of the promise which it holds out to solve all the difficulties which arise from modern speculation, have great attractions for a certain class of minds. We must add that there really is a strong side to the system itself. If its claims were pitched lower, if it claimed merely to be a true Church, and not the true Church, if it were by its nature capable of reform in doctrine and church government, as well as of alterations in discipline, much no doubt might be learnt from it which would be highly useful to other religious bodies. These attractions, however, legitimate and illegitimate, operate on a party which, though considerable in point of number, is insignificant in relation to the nation at large. The enormous majority of the English people are not merely not disposed to become Roman Catholics, but are thoroughly determined to do nothing of the kind; and are convinced on good grounds that the whole system is a dangerous and by no means an innocent delusion.
It would be difficult to find stronger evidence of the justice of this general impression, than is to be obtained from a volume called Essays on Religion and Literature, edited by Dr. Manning, and intended apparently to act as a sort of popular vindication of Roman Catholic opinions, parallel in some degree to the Essays and Reviews or the Aids to Faith. Too much importance, of course, must not be attached to an occasional publication. The essays in question were read before a society called the ‘Academia of the Catholic Religion,’ instituted about four years ago, under the auspices of Cardinal Wiseman, and in connexion with a similar society at Rome, the object of which is, ‘to demonstrate the connexion between science and revealed religion, thereby applying the truths and laws of the intellectual and natural world to the confirmation of the faith.’ Some degree of indulgence is due to compositions of this kind; and it would perhaps be unfair to suppose that nothing better is to be said to a popular audience on behalf of Popery than is said in these essays; but, on the other hand, an undertaking in which Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning personally took part, is in the nature of a manifesto. It would perhaps not be unfair to say that it gives about as good a specimen of the Roman Catholic way of looking at things as the Essays and Reviews or Aids to Faith give of the views of the parties in the Church of England by members of which they were written. Judging the volume by this standard, it is likely to be consolatory to the English mind. By reading it any one may satisfy himself that whatever may be the general merits of the controversy, the controversialists put forward by the ‘Academia of the Catholic Religion ’ are not very formidable antagonists. There is but one essay in the whole volume which has even the appearance of original or powerful thought, and that essay (Mr. Edward Lucas’s), when examined, shows no other power than that of making violent and startling assertions, the simplest of all recipes for gaining a reputation for being original and logical.
Of the other essays, seven in number, one on the birthplace of St. Patrick is merely antiquarian, another on the golden frontal at Milan is merely artistic; the others require some individual observation. There are two by Cardinal Wiseman—an inaugural discourse, and an essay on the truth of supposed legends and fables. Apart from the curious line of argument which they pursue, and on which we propose to make some observations immediately, they are not well written. They are turgid and pompous, and have at times a turn about them of which we can only say that it reminds us of the style of Dr. Cumming. In all that he wrote Cardinal Wiseman showed the traces of his foreign education; and though he was a cultivated, and in some respects an able man, no one would describe him as a powerful or an original thinker.
There is an article by Dr. Manning on the subjects proper for the Academia, which may be called able, if it is a proof of ability to be able to rest with perfect satisfaction upon transparent sophistry. There is a curious and avowedly hasty performance of Mr. Oakley’s, on the position of a Catholic minority in a non-Catholic country, which has the merit of giving the Protestant part of the community a pretty clear account of the estimate formed of them and their institutions by their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects; and lastly there is an answer to Bishop Colenso, by a Mr. Laing, of which we need only say that it is just like all the answers to Bishop Colenso, except in the style, which is peculiar to Mr. Laing himself, and which no one probably will be inclined to borrow. It is a marvel of clumsiness. His essay is rather more difficult than the hardest parts of Jeremy Bentham, though it would not be true to say that it repays the student equally well.
Upon the whole the volume is well suited to allay the fear, if any one entertains it, that Roman Catholics will make much way with the intelligent part of this country by dint of argument. If this volume is a fair specimen of what they could do in the way of writing and thinking, no one need be surprised at the sort of progress which they have made. They have made an impression upon a certain number of women, and a few clever but feminine men. On the bulk of the nation, and especially on the thinking part of it, they have made no impression at all. The volume before us is just the sort of book for the kind of person who is likely to be converted to Popery. It shows some taste, a little cleverness but not much, unmeasured arrogance of pretension, and an almost total absence of anything like calm, good sense or real power of mind. It seems to us far inferior in every possible 'way both to the Essays and Reviews and to the Aids to Faith. It is written by men of much less power and cultivation, and is apparently intended for a much less thoughtful and inquiring class of readers.
It is of course difficult to give unity to a notice of a collection of essays; but there is a certain unity about those which are really characteristic, that is to say, the essays of Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Manning, Mr. Oakley, and Mr. Lucas. We will, therefore, try to state their arguments connectedly, and will then proceed to make some observations upon them. Their observations are reducible to three principal heads:
1. The relation of the Church of Rome to modern science.
2. The relation of the Church of Rome to modern society.
3. The general position and prospects of the Church of Rome in comparison to those of the Church of England.
Each of these subjects is treated more or less fully in all of the four essays before us. Let us take them in their order.
I. The Relation of the Church of Rome to Modern Science
This subject is handled principally by Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning, whose essays on the subject bear to each other a marked resemblance. Each is pervaded by one thought or sentiment, which, indeed, it is the principal object of the volume to develop, namely, a sentiment of self-congratulation on the part of the Roman Catholic body at its freedom from the perplexities in which, as they consider, Protestant bodies are involved by the advance of science. We, it is said in a great variety of forms, are the friends of science. We have no sort of reason to be afraid of it; indeed the only fear we have is that people should not be scientific enough. You Protestants, on the other hand, are destroyed by it: the fact that you are so destroyed will soon become apparent to all the world, and every one who wishes to preserve any religion at all, or at least any Christianity, will before long have to come over to us and accept our protection on our own terms.
Both Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning enlarge at length upon these topics. Dr. Wiseman’s letter, written at the foundation of the society, begins thus:—‘Next to the exercise of its purely spiritual office, the Church has in all ages bestowed its special care on the cultivation of the intellect and the advancement of science.’ Elsewhere, he says, ‘A new spirit, to use the beautiful language of Him who gives it, is poured out upon the world—the spirit of scientific investigation. Humbly, gratefully, joyfully, I accept it from the treasury and from the hand of the All-wise and All-good. It is a new impulse to the intellect which He has bestowed on man; it is a new sharpening of the keenness of the wits which He has given him. It is a new sphere, a new world which he has opened to his perceptions of the divine operations ab extra.’ He proceeds, ‘With the researches or discoveries of Herschel, Leverrier, or Lord Rosse, where has a single Catholic quarrelled? Against the chemical transmutations of Liebig or Faraday, when has any ecclesiastical authority warned? Upon even a single fact in geology, any statement of Murchison or Lyell regarding the position of a layer or the bed of a fossil, when has a word of condemnation been spoken? On science seriously and conscientiously conducted, the Church looks on fearless but cautious; fearless of facts, but most cautious in deductions. It is indeed a notable fact that while you will find the Roman Index loaded with works on history, treatises on metaphysics, political, or rather anti-social pamphlets, you will look in vain there for scientific books, astronomical or geological.’ This admirable agreement between science and the Church is specially traceable in geology. Cardinal Wiseman points this out in a manner as summary as it was probably satisfactory to his hearers and himself. He does not seem to have gone very deeply into the subject, probably because the explanation which suggested itself to his mind was so simple and so entirely satisfactory. ‘I have read,’ he observes, ‘one of the confutations out of the many published of the Essay on the Mosaic Cosmogony, by Mr. C. W. Goodwin, and I seriously declare I have found in it nothing new.’ If by ‘it’ the Cardinal meant, as grammar would require, the refutation, this is very probably quite true. If ‘it’ means, as it probably does, Mr. Goodwin’s essay, it would surely have been fairer to read the essay itself than to take an antagonist’s report of it. Cardinal Wiseman observes, ‘I will even break through the reserve of literary modesty—I have found nothing which I did not say and print in Latin first, and lay at the feet of the most learned of modern popes, Pius VIII, in 1829, and then in English in 1836.’ The Church’s ‘ best teachers, her ancient Fathers, as if foreseeing the future want and the future strain upon the text, have long anticipated the whole objection by bearing their testimony to the all-sufficient interpretation that days may mean periods to any extent,’ also to the hypothesis of an indefinite interval between chaos and order. It is to be regretted that Cardinal Wiseman did not read Mr. Goodwin’s essay for himself, instead of relying upon ‘one of the refutations’ of it for his notion of its contents. If he had done so, he would have perceived that the whole scope of the essay is to show the utter impossibility of accepting such explanations as the Cardinal put forward in 1829 and 1836, and which had been far more elaborately put forward at about the same time and quite independently by Dr. Buckland. As to the explanations themselves, Dr. Wiseman was under the curious delusion which affects so many Roman Catholics, that the arguments on which they rested were good only as between Roman Catholics and infidels, and that because a Cardinal thought he had invented them, they were of no use to the Church of England. No one, he seems to think, can talk of an opposition between science and theology, except as against the Church of England. ‘It is a providential permission, after the outcry and calumny against our Church that she shrinks from the contact of science, and dreads the application of its principles as a test of her teaching, that another religion, which has joined in the taunt, or stood by applauding while it was made, should now not only feel its point and stroke, but should struggle more hopelessly under it, not having any measure of its own resisting or healing power.’ Even this triumph is not enough for Cardinal Wiseman. He insists that the Church is not merely the friend, but is even the parent of science, and in particular of the science of geology. ‘It is then a solemn truth—the Bible has created geology; Moses has laid down the first principles by which the modern science of the earth has been guided.’ ‘The basis of all its’ (geology’s) ‘study, the clue of its intricate researches, have been, in truth, the Bible. The precurrence of a chaotic condition, indefinite in duration, is found, indeed, vaguely expressed in Hindoo, Scandinavian, Egyptian, and Western cosmogonies; nowhere so definite, so plain, so connected with subsequent physical events, as in the scriptural narrative. But in none other is the very groundwork of modern science described as in this—the doctrine of successive production ; not vague and confused, but definite, step by step, so as to challenge to proof—to proof not attempted till after thousands of years. It was not geology (no one suspects it) which suggested this system, but it was this untested system that suggested geology.’
This special and, so to speak, accidental connexion between the Church and the science of geology is, according to Dr. Manning, only a branch of the general relation between the Church and science. He employs a considerable part of his essay on the subjects proper to the Academia in expounding this theory, in which he seems to agree with Cardinal Wiseman, and for which he quotes the authority of Dr. Newman. Cardinal Wiseman tells us that ‘the science of God’ is ‘the centre and light of the manifold and various orders of human knowledge.’ Dr. Manning expounds this principle. It is not altogether easy to give a fair statement of his argument. Clearness and power of statement are not the qualities for which Dr. Manning or his contributors are generally remarkable. There is a good deal of vague language about the Church having ‘ a voice, a testimony, and a jurisdiction’ within certain provinces of natural knowledge; about ‘a true traditive philosophy running down in the same channel with the divine tradition of faith,’ and other matter of the same kind, the most distinct proposition of which is in the following words: —‘ The radical truths of the natural order have become rooted in the substance of faith, and are guaranteed to us by the witness and custody of the Church.’ This is rather a cloudy way of putting matters; but a quotation from Dr. Newman’s University Lectures throws some light on the subject, and enables us to form a pretty clear notion as to Dr. Manning’s theory. We understand it to be as follows:—Theology, if true at all, is a system of truths directly revealed by God to man, and relating to a variety of subjects. If there had been no revelation some of these truths would have formed parts of different natural sciences—history, for instance, morals, geology, or astronomy; and no knowledge respecting them would have been attainable except by natural means. As it is, however, a variety of moral, historical, and physical propositions enter into and form part of the divine revelation. As they do not lose their special character by reason of this state of things, two remarkable consequences follow. In the first place, theology and its representatives have a certain jurisdiction over science, a kind of qualified infallibility upon certain subjects which lie out of its own province. In the second place, the physical philosopher cannot do without the theologian, for there are propositions forming a part of the physical philosopher’s own department as to which he must go for information to the theologian. The historical and physical facts that God created the world at a certain time and in a certain way are to be authentically learnt from theology alone, and it was in this sense and for this reason that Dr. Newman said, ‘When Newton can dispense with the metaphysician, then may you dispense with us.’
Such, however, is the intimacy of the connexion between physical science and theology established by these means that the two are, and always must be, on the most friendly terms conceivable. ‘Catholics have no fear of science scientifically elaborated and scientifically treated. They have no fear of any accumulation of facts and phenomena, truly such, nor of any induction or conclusion scientifically established. They fear only science unscientifically handled, superficial observations, hasty generalizations, reckless opposition to revelation, and undissembled readiness to upset revelation rather than doubt of a modern theory about flint instruments and hyenas’ bones. It is indeed true that Catholics have an intense dislike and hostility to such science as this, and to all its modifications. They hold it to be guilty, not only of leze majesté against the Christian revelation, but against the truth and dignity of science itself. They abhor —and I accuse myself of being a ringleader in this abhorrence—the science now in fashion, which I take leave to call “the brutal philosophy;” to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam.’ Science, Dr. Manning thinks, ought to be humble and submissive. The Academia ought to consider ‘whether it be scientific to threaten the received chronology with a jawbone found at Amiens, or with cities submerged in lakes, or with formations arbitrarily assumed to be slow in their accretion, or the like; or whether it be not the part of science to proceed with the docility of a learner and the patience of an interrogator waiting for the answers of nature, who will not be rashly or contemptuously questioned, but demands of its disciples the reverence and the piety of sons to its great Creator.’ Dr. Manning elsewhere observes, ‘It would inspire us with far more confidence in their science and humility if our geologists said “if the facts of geology are contrary to the Catholic faith let geology look to its facts.” It is much easier to trumpet about facts than to fix them. Even in our own short lifetime, we have seen the facts of geology to be made, unmade, remade, and made over again I know not how many times.’ The duty of science apparently is to go to observation for its facts, and to theology for its conclusions. Trusting in this glorious harmony between science and revelation as he understands it, Dr. Manning concludes by saying that the Church ‘will be seen to be in England also what it has ever been in the civilized world —the mother and nurse of all intellectual culture.’
Dr. Wiseman agrees in the most perfect manner with Dr. Manning, both in his likes and in his dislikes. No one can love true science better; but ‘the science of our day comes forward not only disclaiming cooperation, sympathy, or good wishes from the Church or from religion, but as a rival, an adversary, an antagonist. It advances defiant, and rampant, and menacing: too often with a sarcasm on its lips, nay, with blasphemies, scoffs, and lies upon its tongue. . . . It is not with the discoveries of honest philosophers that the Church is at war, it is with their application by the unscientific, who come against her in the name of natural pursuits, that she feels it almost a degradation to be compelled to fight. In other words, she dislikes, she detests even that very mode of attack which the Church of England is at this moment disgusted at, and is trying to repel such science and philosophy as are put forward in the Essays and Reviews.’ There is only one essay in the Essays and Reviews which relates to physical science. Would it not have been as well to show specifically in what respects it was dishonest and unscientific, and to specify its sarcasms, blasphemies, scoffs, and lies? Any one who has read the essay in question must see that these words are used quite at random.
This is the substance of the teaching contained in the volume before us on the subject of the relation of the Church of Rome to the advance of physical and other science. In order to consider its soundness it may be convenient to condense it into a few short propositions.
1. Science is as much a gift of God as revelation, and is equally true. To this Cardinal Wiseman adds that the spirit of scientific investigation is a new and precious gift from God opening a new world to man.
2. Some scientific propositions being also propositions of theology, theology is the complement to science, and it is unscientific not to be theological.
3. Hence theology is the friend of true science and the enemy only of those who falsely pretend to science. As an illustration of this the Bible was the parent of theology, and the Church is the mother and nurse of true intellectual culture.
On each of these propositions, in the sense in which they are advanced by Dr. Manning and Cardinal Wiseman, several observations suggest themselves. That all truth is and must be consistent, is of course indisputable. It is the common point of departure of all mankind. That scientific investigation has in modern times vastly improved itself and produced results of greater importance than it produced in earlier periods of history is equally true. These propositions, however, ought not to be dismissed in the summary way in which Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning dismiss them. They require development and illustration, for as they stand they may be taken in different senses. Let us then consider shortly what is meant by science and its consistency with revelation.
First, what is revelation? In order to give a connected account of the view taken by the authors of the volume before us, we have omitted several observations which at once suggest themselves on their arguments; but there is one tacit assumption which it is essential to expose, because it pervades all that they say. Both Dr. Manning and Cardinal Wiseman always speak of ‘revelation’ as if it were universally admitted that particular common opinions were revealed from heaven, whereas the question whether or not they were revealed is the very point in issue, and the argument of scientific men is not that revelation is false, but that particular opinions commonly supposed to have been divinely revealed are false, and that therefore the common opinion as to their origin must be false. All Dr. Manning’s language about docility, and humility, and patience, proceeds on this assumption. Every one knows that these qualities are admirable things when the task is to observe facts and detect their real bearing; but to say that a scientific inquirer is to treat every commonly-received opinion in this spirit is to contradict the whole teaching of physical science. A divine revelation is one thing, a proposition affirmed to be divinely revealed is quite another, and to claim for the latter the reverence due only to the former is a mere petitio principii.
Next, what is science? Many people appear to think that there is some particular department of human knowledge which is marked off from the rest and called science—for instance, that geology, physiology, astronomy, mathematics, and the like are sciences; that history and biography are not. They appear to be of opinion, more or less distinctly, that human knowledge is divided into separate departments, each of which has its own tests of truth, and its own methods of arriving at truth, so that the consistency of science and an alleged religious revelation, according to them, consists in the fact that the conclusions reached in two different departments by different methods are the same. This is one sense in which it may be affirmed that there is and can be no opposition between science and theology.
There is, however, another view of the matter which we believe to be the true one. It is that truth means the correspondence of words with facts, and that science means the process by which men ascertain that words correspond with facts, whatever may be the subject matter of the words, and whatever may be the nature of the facts. According to this view, the very same principles by which we ascertain whether a particular person does or does not live in a particular house are to be applied to the question whether the sun moves round the earth or the earth round the sun. The question whether the events related in the four Gospels did really take place is to be decided on the same principles as the question whether dew falls or rises. Science, in this view of the matter, consists of rules for the conduct of the human mind in the investigation of truth, let the subject matter of investigation be what it will. When persons who take this view assert that there is no opposition between science and theology, they mean that the theological system of which they are speaking affirms nothing which human reason properly exercised on appropriate evidence denies. If they aver that there can be no such opposition they mean that if and in so far as the system in question is true it makes no such affirmations, and that in so far as it does make such affirmations it is false. They assert, in short, that there are ways of conducting the human mind which are our highest test of truth, that conclusions reached by the use of this method are true, and conclusions opposed to this false. Further, they assert that conclusions said to be reached by this method can be disproved only by showing that they were not so reached.
These two views of the nature of science and of its relation to alleged revelations are obviously altogether distinct. Men who take the first view are of course at liberty to contradict scientific conclusions. They may say, if they will, Your mind, exercised by its own methods, says one thing; but my theology says something quite different, and it is the place of theology to command and of science to obey. Those who take the second view are tied down to one way of proceeding. If any fact whatever is duly established, they must admit its truth. If any alleged fact is inconsistent with a fact so established, and is not so established itself, they must deny its truth, no matter how important it may be, how welcome a belief in its truth would be, or how venerable and admirable may be the persons who affirm it to be true. If two facts, apparently inconsistent, are each established by the same method, they are reduced to doubt, and must suspend their judgments.
It is important to state clearly these two views of science, and to point out and insist upon the fact of their opposition to each other, because neither Cardinal Wiseman nor Dr. Manning appear to have perceived the distinction between them, and because it is exceedingly difficult to say which of these two views either of them held. When Cardinal Wiseman speaks of God’s giving to man ‘the spirit of scientific investigation,’ as something new and precious, as ‘a new sphere, a new world,’ he seems to lean to the second view. When Dr. Manning quotes Dr. Newman for the principle that the physical philosopher cannot do without the theologian, and declares that if the facts of geology contradict the Roman Catholic Church, geology ought to look to its facts, he all but propounds the first view. Probably, in slight and popular performances, they did not think it worth while to go into the question with any great care, and certainly they preferred to the trouble of doing so the easy task of joining in a chorus of indignation against rash pretenders to science, with their ‘superficial observations and hasty generalizations.’
This fundamental obscurity imposes on us the trouble of considering their remaining propositions with reference to each point of view successively. We will take first the one which is most favourable to their own view—the theory, namely, that knowledge is divided into different departments, each with its own tests of truth. This lies at the root of Dr. Manning’s theory, and, indeed, pervades considerable parts of the lectures of Dr. Newman, from which he has adapted it. Let us, then, consider this view of the case, and follow it out, with its practical applications.
This view of the matter may easily be shown to lead directly to absolute scepticism on all subjects whatever—a result, by the way, which a student of the theories of the eminent writer whom Dr. Manning quotes (we refer to Dr. Newman) will frequently arrive at. The essence of the doctrine in question is, that there are more ways than one of arriving at truth. All truth, we are told, is one; but different kinds of truths are reached in different ways. Theological truths rest on theological grounds, of the truth of which we are assured by one faculty or set of faculties. Scientific truths rest on other grounds, of the truth of which we are assured by another faculty or set of faculties. If this be the case, one of two consequences must follow: either the word ‘truth’ has two different meanings in the two phrases, ‘theological truth’ and ‘scientific truth,’ or else the same proposition is capable of being affirmed and denied in the same sense, by theology on the one hand, and science on the other.
If the word ‘truth’ means different things according as it is applied to theology or science, then a contradiction between the two is of no importance. Things theologically true may be scientifically false. The sun may go round the earth in a theological sense, and the earth round the sun in a scientific sense. The facts related in the Apostles’ Creed may all be true theologically, whilst scientifically they are utterly false. Divorce, theologically considered, may be wicked; scientifically, it may be right. What is true whilst you are praying becomes false when you leave church. There is one creed for Sunday, another for Saturday. One code of morals as between priest and priest; another as between priests and men of the world. Unhappily, this sort of seesaw is not a mere theory. Every one who has seen much of religious worlds, whether Protestant or Romanist, ancient or modern, knows only too well how many people take into their very hearts this deadly poison—this concentrated essence of lying, all the more deadly because it is colourless, passionless, and distilled by men of the best of characters, with the best of motives.
Though Dr. Manning and Cardinal Wiseman say many things which tend towards the hateful doctrine, that truth means different things, according to the subject matter of which it is predicated, they neither of them preach it. Neither, indeed, on the present occasion, seems to have gone deep enough to be in danger of preaching it. They take up the other side of the question, and appear to admit the possibility that science and theology, starting from different grounds, and proceeding each by its own appropriate methods, might arrive at different conclusions upon the same fact. They then affirm that it is the duty of science, in such cases, to give way; for that theology shall in any case stand corrected is of course inconsistent with their fundamental principles. Why, then, is science to give way? Because theology is divinely revealed. And how are we to know that it is divinely revealed, or that truth is an attribute of the God who revealed it? It is impossible to answer this question except by arguments the soundness of which is a question of science, and this brings us round to what no doubt is the true theory, namely, that there is but one true method of investigation for all subjects, that science is the measure of theology, and that theology cannot possibly be the measure of science.
There is, indeed, one apparent loophole of escape. It may be said, ‘We have a special faculty lent to us, and we see by its supernatural light.’ To this there are two answers: first—Every one who says this puts himself out of the reach of argument. The Brahmin says it, so does the Buddhist, so does the Fakeer, so does the Mahometan, so do mystics of all ages and creeds, so do Protestants of all denominations, and the assertion made by any one, however extravagant, however foolish, at once supersedes argument. If theological truth is so alien to human reason that it is the peculiar incommunicable gift of particular people, it is impossible to say, a priori, that that incommunicable gift is more likely to be found in many than in few, in those whom we should call good than in those whom we should call bad, in a great and permanent institution than in a small and transient one. The Fakeer on his hook, the Quaker in his counting-house, the dancing Dervish who sells holy breath, are each as good witnesses to what passes in their own hearts as Dr. Manning, Dr. Newman, and Cardinal Wiseman; and any arguments drawn from the comparative apparent value of their respective revelations are irrelevant, inasmuch as they introduce the very element of human reason which the internal revelation was set up for the sake of excluding. This kind of supernatural illumination is. in theology what the liberum veto was in politics; it gives every man absolute power upon terms which make its possession absolutely useless, as every one else has the same.
Secondly, it is always fair to ask a man who says he has this supernatural gift to prove his possession of it. A blind man is easily convinced that other people see, and so if certain people have a different faculty from the rest of the world, enabling them to discern things which we cannot discern, they ought to be able to prove it. So far are they from doing so, that there are no subjects in which such difficulties and contradictions exist as those to which the mysterious gift in question is said to apply. Mystics may have peculiar faculties, but each mystic’s faculty is peculiar to himself, and gives him information different from that which other mystics get from their faculties.
We are thus brought round to the conclusion that science is the measure of theology, and though the cloudy language of Dr. Manning and the gawdy eloquence of Dr. Wiseman, introduce a good deal of confusion into the matter, and make it difficult to ascertain their real meaning, it is obvious enough that they felt this as well as any one else, and that they also felt, through all their boasting, how the matter was really going. Both Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning are as gracious as possible to ‘true’ science; and the former, as we have seen, views the spirit of scientific investigation as a species of new revelation; and this laudable feeling impels them both to a perfect frenzy of rage against the unscientific, who pretend to investigate, but are really rash and incautious. After speaking of the spirit of scientific investigation in the language already quoted, Dr. Wiseman observes, ‘The science of our day comes forward, not only disclaiming co-operation, sympathy, or good wishes from the Church or from religion, but as a rival, an adversary, an antagonist.’ He compares the scientific men of the day to ‘burglars’ and ‘incendiaries;’ and then, thinking he had gone a little too far, he explains that the burglars and incendiaries in question are not Herschel, Leverrier, or Lord Rosse, or even Sir R. Murchison or Sir C. Lyell, so long as they confine themselves to statements ‘regarding the position of a layer or the bed of a fossil.’ It is those terrible dunces who do all the harm. So Dr. Manning has an ‘ intense dislike and hostility’ to such science as is ready to ‘upset revelation (i.e., to doubt the fact that an alleged revelation is really a revelation) rather than doubt of a modern theory about flint instruments and hyaenas’ bones. This ‘intense dislike and hostility’ is based on the reckless, hasty, unscientific character of such speculations. There is-something amusing in Dr. Manning’s indignation that anything so vulgar as a flint—stone or a hyaena’s bone should be relevant to the question whether or not an established opinion is or is not a divine revelation. Yet there are those who would say that in many matters of the utmost importance it is ‘reckless, hasty, and unscientific’ to neglect such vulgar things. Many a jury has taken away human life rather than doubt of a modern theory about hob-nailed shoes, clasp-knives, and the soundness of tests for detecting arsenic.
The general result is that these eminent writers admit that, between the Roman Catholic creed and the opinions of those who deny the substantial truth of the Mosaic account of the origin of the world and of the human race, there is a clear contradiction. They also admit that the mode which science prescribes for the investigation of these questions is correct, and that, when applied scientifically, it will give true results; but they affirm that all the unorthodox conclusions on the subject which have been hitherto reached are founded upon ‘science unscientifically handled, superficial observations, and hasty generalizations.‘ In short, they are committed to this alternative: either the Roman Catholic faith is untrue, or the opinions in question are rash and hasty, and are held upon unscientific and superficial grounds.
We cannot believe that the last assertion is honestly made. We do not believe that Dr. Manning either has, or can upon reasonable grounds suppose himself to have, any sort of right to accuse such men as Sir Charles Lyell of being rash, hasty, and superficial on his own subjects. Let us take a single specific instance. Sir Charles Lyell’s book on the Antiquity of Man is diametrically opposed to every reasonable construction of the early chapters of Genesis. If he is right, men lived and died, in many parts of the world, ages before Adam sinned. In what particular respects does Dr. Manning consider that Sir C. Lyell is rash, hasty, superficial, and unscientific in his treatment of this subject? The question suggests another. Is Dr. Manning prepared to stake his faith in the Roman Catholic creed on the results of scientific investigation? Will he advise his disciples to do so? Will he admit that people ought to give up believing in the book of Genesis if science ultimately deliberately contradicts it? If yes, what becomes of his boasts about the ‘Catholic Church being the only certain authority for the inspiration and canon of Holy Scripture?’ If no, what is the sense of his and of Cardinal Wiseman’s fierce attacks on modern science for being rash and unscientific?
The real truth upon the whole subject is transparently plain. It is obvious that neither of these writers knew anything about science, and that their only rule of criticism was to call every scientific conclusion which they happened to dislike rash and unscientific. If this had not been the case, can it be doubted that we should have had abundant proof of the rashness and unscientific character of the common arguments against the flood, or the Mosaic history of the creation? Some such arguments we have, and they are remarkable in more ways than one. In the first place, the eagerness with which they are produced shows how highly they are valued. We are told a great deal about the perfect security of the Church, about its foundation on an immoveable rock, about the contrast between its position and that of the Church of England and other Protestant bodies. We are told that faith must precede knowledge, and much else of the same kind; but, notwithstanding all these confident assurances, it is characteristic and curious to see how everything which has the merest semblance of an argument is caught at. However loudly they may deny it, every one of the writers obviously feels in his own heart that, in the long run, reason is the test of truth, and accordingly tries his utmost to get the least little bit of it on his own side.
Cardinal Wiseman, for instance, thinks it worth his while to repeat once more the old remark about the days in Genesis meaning periods, and about the possibility that ‘In the beginning’ may cover endless ages. We will not weary our readers by pointing out the fresh difficulties and absurdities which are thus introduced (they are specified at great length in that essay of Mr. Goodwin’s which Dr. Wiseman supposed to have been written in ignorance of the explanation to which it was an answer), we will content ourselves with observing once more that this way of arguing preserves the Bible from attack by emptying it of meaning. If the Bible is a set of riddles, the meaning of which can never be understood till science explains them, science is the teacher, and the Bible the deceiver, of mankind. If ‘days’ mean ages, those who believed the Bible in its literal sense were wrong, and those who believed science were right. Cardinal Wiseman has also the unspeakable audacity to say that the Bible ‘created geology.’ This raises a curiosity to know what in the world he means. So far from creating geology, the Bible supplied an account of the history of the world which for centuries prevented the study of such questions, and appeared, at least, to supersede them. As long as men simply read their Bibles, or heard their priests’ account of their contents, geology was not only impious, but useless. The Bible, to all ordinary readers, appeared to assert that the world was made in six days, about six thousand years ago, and when this was supposed to be one of the most prominent and important articles of revealed truth, what was the use of inquiring further? When Voltaire asserted the great antiquity of the world in the early chapters of the Essai sur les Moeurs, the fact that he did so was one of the great proofs of the iniquitous character of the book. When in our own and the last generation, the question came to be more fully studied, not by reason of an increased study of the Bible, but because men began to use their eyes upon the world around them, the only serious difficulty which its students encountered arose from the opposition which existed between their results and the statements of the Bible. It is true that Augustine introduced allegory into this as well as into other parts of the Scripture, in order to avoid difficulties suggested by the Manichees, but this proves merely that double dealing in controversy is not a new invention. We need not, indeed, go beyond Dr. Manning’s essay in this very volume to show how far the conclusions of geology really harmonize with the Bible and with the Roman Catholic system. Dr. Manning ironically asks whether ‘it is scientific to threaten the received chronology with a jawbone at Amiens?’ If the received chronology is admitted to be a mistake founded upon that ignorant interpretation of the Bible which was put upon it before geology was invented, what is the objection to threatening it? Why not dispel the illusion at once, and admit the jawbone found at Amiens, the Lake Cities, and the ‘formations arbitrarily assumed to be slow in their formation?’ The phrase just quoted is a delightful instance of the true theological temper. The all-important ‘arbitrarily’ is slipped in as if it were an admitted fact that the assumption was arbitrary, whereas the word involves the very point at issue. The spirit of every part of the essay is the same—Leave received chronology, and all other received opinions, alone. Cling to them to the very last moment, and when they have become so utterly monstrous and irrational that it is impossible to defend them any longer, say that they are perfectly immaterial, that you knew all along that they were false, and that you are mother or nurse or some other relation to the philosophy which exploded them, inasmuch as if you had not set them up, it would never have had the credit of knocking them down.
It is not only in relation to geology that Cardinal Wiseman gives a measure of his notion of scientific proof. The volume contains a remarkable lecture, also by him, on the truth of supposed legends, valuable, like the remarks on geology, as an admission on his part of the importance of historical evidence, and valuable, also, as an illustration of his notion of the nature of historical evidence. The essay or lecture is an attempt to vindicate the history of the eleven thousand virgins of Cologne, and the genuine character of three relics, namely, the Virgin’s shift at Chartres, and the heads of St. John (according to the Cardinal they are two parts of one head) at Rome and at Amiens. The history of the eleven thousand virgins is avowedly a mere abridgement from a treatise on the .subject, filling, says the Cardinal, ‘two hundred and thirty pages of closely-printed folio, in two columns,’ and published in a new number of the Acta Sanctorum. The eleven thousand virgins had always, even with Roman Catholics, been a difficulty, as the Cardinal admits. Many disbelieved and most doubted; now, however, ‘such a vindication, such a wonderful reexamination of the whole history,’ has appeared in the treatise just referred to, ‘as it is impossible to resist.’ This, he appears to think, completely justifies the popular sentiment. ‘To a good native of Cologne it’ (the Church of St. Ursula) ‘is the most venerable, sacred, and holy place almost in Christendom. He prays earnestly to the virgins of Cologne, and considers that they are his powerful patrons and intercessors.’ The Cardinal kindly abridges the treatise, and we will further abridge the lecture.
The massacre of the eleven thousand virgins is said to have happened in 451 A.D., when Attila was on his retreat from France, where he had been defeated by Aetius, at Chalons-sur-Marne.
There is no evidence at all that he ever was at Cologne, or that there were any British virgins there.
The author of the treatise (Father de Buck), however, thinks it probable that a number of English virgins might have left England, and might have gone to Batavia, and might have gone to Cologne about that time, inasmuch as in 446 the Picts and Scots began to make incursions into England. Father de Buck, moreover, argues in ‘one of the most exquisite and beautiful geographical investigations, I should think, that have ever appeared’ (this is just the style of Dr. Cumming’s Apocalyptic Sketches), to show that Attila must have retreated to Cologne, where he may have met with the eleven thousand virgins and slaughtered them.
What is the proof that he did? First, there is an inscription at Cologne, said to date from the year 500, in these words: ‘Clematius came from the East: he was terrified by fiery visions, and by the great majesty and holiness of these virgins, and he rebuilt . . . . this basilica.’
This is the only bit of evidence within several hundred years of the occurrence; and it says, be it observed, absolutely nothing at all about any virgins whatever having been martyred or otherwise dealt with in any way.
The next document is by an unknown author, at an unknown date, ‘between 751 and 839,’ i.e., from three hundred to four hundred years after the alleged martyrdom, which quotes the inscription, says that there were no written books in existence at the time when the document was written, and says that the virgins were probably Britons martyred by the Huns. It calls their leader Vinosa.
‘After that period there comes'a mass of historical proofs that one can have no difficulty about.’ There is a legendary history called the Regnante Domino, written in between the ninth and eleventh centuries, of which Cardinal Wiseman says, ‘It is an absurd story, and full of fable.’ The name of the leader of the virgins in this legend is Ursula, which remains to this day.
Lastly, in 1640, about one hundred skeletons were found at a place marked out in the legend as the place of burial, arranged as the bones of martyrs would be buried. It is added that various medical men have lately examined the bones, and they were ‘Celtic, not German.’ Some acquaintance with the evidence of experts suggests a profane desire to cross-examine these witnesses, but the evidence in itself obviously proves nothing. The discovery of bones twelve hundred years after an alleged event, of which there is no evidence at all, is but a small matter.
Unless there is some trustworthy account of the transaction to which the bones are said to relate, the bones themselves prove nothing. Here the evidence is an inscription which mentions ‘these virgins,’ without further explanation; a sort of tradition put into writing three hundred or four hundred years afterwards, altogether different from the legend now believed; and a legend some five hundred years subsequent to the event, two hundred years subsequent to the tradition, and four hundred and fifty years subsequent to the inscription, and admitted to be full of fable and absurdity. Twelve hundred years after the event bones are found which suit (let us assume) the tradition, and they are used to justify the legend.
If upon such evidence as this eleven thousand hypothetical women are to be converted into quasi-goddesses, to whom ‘the good inhabitants of Cologne earnestly pray,’ and whom they consider to be ‘ powerful patrons and intercessors,’ it certainly requires indefinitely less evidence to people heaven with any number of saints, and to justify a whole city in running the risk of practising a debasing idolatry, than to get a bill found by any grand jury in England against the greatest of rascals for the slightest of crimes. Half the Greek mythology depends on far better evidence. Believe anything for which you can find an inscription, a legend four hundred years after date, and a certain number of bones, and you will soon repeople Olympus. What the people at Cologne believe is, beyond a doubt, the wild legend, the ‘absurd story full of fable.’ The very utmost that Father de Buck’s treatise even tends to prove is a sort of possibility that certain persons unknown were massacred by other persons unknown, and that the victims may conceivably have been Britons, and the murderers possibly Huns. If the common people of Cologne knew this, how long would they continue to worship their ‘powerful patrons and intercessors?’
The evidence as to the relics is even more singular. As to the Virgin’s shift at Chartres, there is evidence, no doubt, that a dress of Eastern fashion was found in the church in 1793, by commissioners sent by the French Government. For the sake of argument and to save time, we will admit that this was the same thing which had been given to Charlemagne by Irene, about the year 800, as the Virgin’s shift. What is the proof that it ever belonged to the Virgin Mary? ‘A Byzantine writer of the fourteenth century, Nicephorus Calixtus, tells us that this very relic was in the possession of persons in Judea, to whom it was left by Our Blessed Lady before her death; that it fell in the course of time into the hands of a Jew in Galilee; that two patricians of Constantinople, Galbius and Candidus, traced it,’ &c. &c. &c. We cannot go on with this!
To do Dr. Wiseman justice, he says, ‘I am not going to prove the relic, but I am going to show you the grounds on which it had been accepted. We own that when we get to the ‘certain Jew’ we feel that the ground is shaky in the extreme. We might imagine a New Zealander explaining the grounds of the reception of Queen Elizabeth’s nightgown thus:—‘ Smith, a writer of the twenty-fifth century, declares that Queen Elizabeth gave her nightgown to certain persons before her death, through whom, in course of time, it came into the hands of a certain Jew called Moses, who had an establishment in Wardour-street, whence, in the course of the nineteenth century, two patricians connected with the Society of Arts took it to a building then known as the Brompton Boilers, where it was preserved till the destruction of London, whence it was imported into New Zealand by the distinguished author of Views of St. Paul’s from the Ruins of the South-Eastern Railway.’
The evidence for the head of St. John is rather weaker, if anything, than the evidence for the Virgin’s shift.
It is worth while to consider for a moment the fair inference from these absurd stories. They are admissions of the whole principle of historical inquiry, and proofs of an almost puerile ignorance of the nature of the process, and of the rules by which it is conducted.
The rules of evidence, the ways of inquiring into matter of fact, are universal. They have no relation at all to the particular subject matter to which they happen to be applied. If it is necessary for any purpose to prove that eleven thousand virgins were martyred at Cologne, the only way of doing so is by producing circumstantial accounts by eye-witnesses or contemporary documentary evidence of all that happened, and the credit due to such accounts will be liable to deductions on various well-known grounds, such as the powers of observations which the witnesses possessed, their impartiality, their accuracy, &c. &c. As you recede from this standard, the degree of the probability that the event happened rapidly becomes so slight as to be inappreciable. Upon Cardinal Wiseman’s own showing any fair reader would say that it was completely uncertain whether there was any foundation whatever for the history of Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins, and that the only detailed narratives of her adventures were manifest fables, entitled to absolutely no weight at all.
Thus far we have considered the arguments of Cardinal Wiseman and Dr. Manning on the relation of the Church of Rome to science, and have attempted to show that they admit that scientific processes lead to truth, and that most of the opinions entertained in the present day by scientific men are opposed to the Roman Catholic creed; that in order to get over this they are obliged to charge the plainest conclusions of physical science with being rash, hasty, and unscientific; and that when they give specimens of their own skill in scientific investigation, they show themselves ignorant of the most rudimentary notions of the rules of historical evidence.
It would be no difficult task to go much further than this, and to prove beyond all doubt that the opposition between the Roman Catholic creed and science is no accidental matter. It is not a question about geology or criticism. It goes far deeper. It is a question of fundamental principles and methods. No doubt there was a time when the Church was the patron of what was once called science. When all arts and sciences were studied on the principles of scholasticism, and when theology was considered to be the queen of the sciences, the Church was no doubt the mistress and patroness of knowledge. It was only by degrees that science began to stand on its own legs and follow its own methods. This was the essence of the great movement, of which the Reformation was only a part, and which in all its forms was passionately opposed by the Church, that is, by the Papal clergy, and by such civil governments as they could persuade to take their part. Popes, no doubt, were in one or two instances the friends and leaders of this movement; but as its true character became apparent, the Church bitterly opposed it—it opposes it now more bitterly than ever. Bit by bit the grasp which the Church had at one time fixed upon the whole of human life has been relaxed. Where the Church had full power, as in Spain, it crushed all physical science. Where it had great power, as in France, it hampered it, vexed it, and drove it at last into a frantic revolt. It is only in Protestant countries, or under Protestant or rationalist auspices in other countries, that science has really flourished. It is mere childishness to confine the conflict between reason and dogmatism to a few particular propositions. It is one of the oldest, the widest, the deepest quarrels in the world. Wherever the two forces have joined issue upon any definite point, reason has won and dogmatism has lost. The Church believed in magic, and magic has been exploded. The Church denounced the drama in its most innocent forms, and theatres flourish all over the world. The Church described usury as a sin, and treated all lending at interest as usury, and Rome itself has a national debt. The Church imprisoned and perhaps tortured Galileo, and probably Pius IX. himself believes that the earth turns round the sun.
Lastly, and above all, the Church taught that religious error of every kind was a deadly sin, punishable with eternal torture hereafter, and justly punished with a cruel death by the civil magistrate here. It encouraged, enforced, and compelled civil governments by spiritual censures to be the executioner-s of its decrees, and killed, burnt, destroyed, and imprisoned by its agents in every part of Europe for centuries together. It still teaches the very same doctrines, but no one believes them. The Pope himself would not dare to burn a heretic as such. He hardly dares even to kidnap a Jew. The Roman Catholics in general are much like other people. They do not, 'in fact‘, treat Protestants as dreadful sinners. They invent charitable but illogical excuses for them, and water down the terrors of the Church till it is obvious to all the world that they think very little more of heresy than the common run of Protestants. Look at legislation, look at public sentiment, look at the common books and newspapers which reflect the feeling of all the world, and it is as clear as daylight that whatever may be the theory of a small minority of fanatics, the great mass of the European world regard theology as a matter of opinion; and would be as much shocked at seeing theological error treated as a crime as they would be at any other act of gross cruelty and oppression. It may or may not be true that it is impossible to lay the finger on any one definite proposition to which the Church of Rome is committed by which this mutual tolerance is proscribed (though something very like such propositions is to be found in the Encyclicals of Pius IX.) ; but it is as clear as the sun at noonday that such a temper of mind is fundamentally opposed to the whole Romish theory, that it has grown up in spite of it, and that if the great champions of Rome had had their way no such state of feeling would ever have grown up.
There is one way of stating the case, which to our minds is as forcible as a mathematical demonstration. It will hardly be denied that the powers which in the sixteenth century, and afterwards in the thirty-years’ war, opposed Protestantism by force of arms, were the representatives of Romanism, or that their triumph would have been the triumph of the Roman Catholic Church. Let us suppose they had triumphed completely. Let us suppose that the liberties of Holland had been utterly trodden out; that the Spanish Armada had succeeded as entirely in England; that Denmark, Sweden, and the south of Germany had been brought under the same yoke; that in all these countries the Inquisition had been established; that the same principles and institutions had been carried into North America and other parts of the world since colonized by the great Protestant powers; and that every book put into the Index Expurgatorius had been utterly destroyed ; can any person of ordinary good faith and the commonest knowledge pretend to believe that all this would not have crippled and indeed destroyed all modern science whatever, and have detained the whole civilized world for ages in the condition in which Spain was till within living memory? Those who will deny this are out of the reach of argument. Those who admit it cannot escape from the conclusion that so far from its being true that the Roman Catholic Church has been the ‘mother and nurse of all intellectual culture,’ it aimed at it the deadliest blows that it ever escaped, and cringes to it now with a hypocrisy which, if it has less power of doing mischief than its old cruelty, is not in itself more respectable. The first thought of the Romish clergy, when the reason of man began to assert its rights, was to put it down by fire and sword, and in some parts of the world it succeeded in doing so. Its present device-is to produce a bastard counterfeit of its antagonist, to give good reasons for holding bad opinions, to drive men to what it calls faith by threatening them with atheism, and to claim for itself the merit of being the mother of intellectual culture, because a thousand years ago it nursed the infancy of the sciences, which it wished to strangle in their youth, and now curses in their maturity.
Part 2: July 1865
II. The Relation of the Roman Catholic Church to Modern Society.
The second important subject discussed in the volume before us is the relation of the Roman Catholic Church to modern society. There are two essays upon this subject, one by Mr. Oakley, the other, which is divided into two parts, by Mr. Lucas. Each is characteristic. Mr. Oakley's essay was, as he says, written on very short notice, and bears evident traces of the haste with which it was composed. It is interesting as a plain unstudied account of the .feelings of a devoted Roman Catholic in the midst of English society, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that it might have been written by a Protestant as an imaginary picture of the view which, from the nature of the case, a thorough-going Ultramontanist would be obliged to take of the institutions of his native conntry. Mr. Oakley's feelings appear to ns perfectly natural to a person in his position, and we will try to state shortly their character. He observes that the position of a Catholic minority in a nation 'whose institutions and interests are diametrically opposed to the genius and habits of their religion,' is very embarrassing to all Catholics, except, on the one hand, monks and nuns, who make their own world, and to whom it matters little where they live; and, on the other, 'those who have so deeply imbibed the national spirit as to have lost their Catholic susceptibilities.' All others, especially those who have anything to do with politics, find themselves in a false position. They are not positively reduced to hypocrisy, but they come to something very like it. 'We are all, in fact, thrown against our inclination upon a discipline of economy and management.' The reason is plain enough. They cannot state their principles fully and act up to them on all occasions, for if they did they would lose all influence whatever. 'We Catholics . . . are children ... of the Church, which is the sole and exclusive depository on earth of eternal and immutable truth. . . . The most imposing of the pretensions of other bodies does not even approach the limits of our prerogative; the most orthodox of their opinions does not come a whit nearer to our truth than the wildest and most fanatical of their doctrinal innovations.' Protestants, however, will not admit this. Far from being permitted to assert our ascendency as a prerogative, we are treated to scant measures of the barest right with a smile of patronage.' Hence 'we must make up our minds either to understate our claims, economise our principles, and resort to a phraseology utterly inadequate to the true facts of the case, or withdraw altogether from the arena of public usefulness.' Nay, necessity makes them acquainted with strange bedfellows. They have to make common cause with Protestant dissenters, or as Mr. Oakley puts it, 'we are compelled to cast in our lot with those separatists of yesterday, . . . . with the rejected of the rejected, the offshoots of the dissevered branch; with the fautors, however unconscious, of heresy doubly distilled, and the victims of schism twice divided, and compelled to think it gain if we can get anywise into port by the aid of a towage so rude, or under a convoy so shabby. Certainly it is an abject position for the Queen of the Nations and the Bride of the Lamb.' Very abject indeed. Nay more, Catholics are obliged to use language which cannot be called altogether sincere. 'While using in a certain sense correctly of heretics and schismatics who are our fellow-citizens and companions in distress the endearing name of "brethren," we are obliged . . . . to call our own true brethren "co-religionists." Even this is not the worst More perilous still . . . . is the temptation to defend Catholic truth or to promote Catholic objects by un-Catholic means.' And then, again, there is the counter danger of neglecting those means if they are the ones which under the circumstances ought to be employed. For this reason particular forms of argument ought to be specially sanctioned as appropriate. The argument ad hominem is particularly recommended. 'Thus when we are charged with advocating principles highly favourable to toleration in one country, and apparently at variance with it in another, to this charge we have a complete and satisfactory answer at hand. But as it is one which our opponents are quite incapable of appreciating, we may therefore well waive the abstract question and refer them to those principles of religious equality which in this country are so ostentatiously professed and often so partially applied.' This is no doubt prudent, inasmuch as the argument generally used is—It is your duty to tolerate us when you are strong because we are right. It is our right to persecute you when we are strong because you are wrong. The difficulties of this 'economizing' system are no doubt very great, 'the mean to be hit is as delicate as a needle's point' There are, however, models at hand. 'There are sons and daughters of Catholic Ireland in this wild and wicked metropolis who, with little of worldly knowledge, are practically solving this great problem with an accuracy and precision which education cannot teach nor rules supply.' It is, however, ill to play with such edge tools. 'Those under statements of Catholic truth which our position entails should be strictly limited to cases of overpowering necessity or the most obvious expediency. They come, indeed, under the head of those studied ambiguities of phrase which our theology rather permits than encourages.'
The remainder of Mr. Oakley's essay is less interesting, but it contains one passage too characteristic to be passed over:—'One of the misfortunes of our position is the temptation it creates to think better of liberal Protestants than of what are called "bigots."' He feels that he ought to like the bigot best, and that it is very hard that those who agree with him in spirit should differ irreconcileably in matters of detail. So it is, however. It can hardly be expected that for the sake of uniting upon the ground of a common fanaticism your fellow bigot should give up the very points on which his bigotry is most excited.
Mr. Oakley's utterances are very remarkable. If any further evidence were required of the utter irreconcileable hostility which exists between Ultramontanism and all that the English nation has gained by many centuries of wisdom and courage—if any one still supposes it possible to reconcile Popery in its full development with sincere attachment to England and English principles of government—if any one ventures to deny that a consistent Ultramontanist is under the strongest possible temptation to be false to his country, to be hypocritical in all that he says, and to be continually saying one thing and meaning another, let him read Mr. Oakley's essay. The Pope and the Queen are obviously God and Mammon in his eyes, and it will never be possible for him and those who think like him to serve both heartily until the two powers stand in their proper relation—the relation of King John to Innocent III.—then, indeed, Mr. Oakley would be heartily loyal. To the Queen, as the Pope's inferior, he would no doubt yield a willing service. As it is he obeys the law not heartily and willingly, not because he loves the nation, and is himself a part of it, but because submission to the powers that be is a duty which the Pope enforces.
It is needless to dwell upon Mr. Oakley's paper. It is a perfectly natural, and no doubt, a true expression of the feelings of an Ultramontanist in a Protestant country. A bank, straightforward citizenship, thorough sympathy with the national life and the national objects, are simply impossible to him in a country which does not in its corporate capacity acknowledge the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope. So long as this is rejected he is restricted to a narrow alternative. Either he must go into a monastery, or retire into privacy, or take in politics a shifty disingenuous course in which he cannot avow his true principles openly, or pursue with the least prospect of success any really important object. He is a stranger and sojourner amongst us. He is the subject of a foreign priest who enforces his commands on those who believe in it by a power infinitely more effectual than any which human laws can apply, and issues commands on subjects with which no human legislator would dare to meddle.
Dr. Newman was intensely indignant at the suggestion that his creed was unfavourable to manliness and truth. How angry he ought to be with Mr. Oakley! 'Studied ambiguities in phrase,' are to be the stock in trade of the Roman Catholic politician, and his model for imitation is to be found in that slippery indirectness constantly running into falsehood which we tolerate in the poorer class of Irish because they unite some of the virtues of the child to some of the vices of the slave, and because English oppression is answerable to some extent for each. What is to be said of a man who deliberately proposes as a model for the imitation of his 'co-religionists,' or if he prefers the phrase, his ' own true brethren,' a habit of mind which is the direct result of the action of oppression on weakness? Mr. Oakley says to the Roman Catholics of England, 'Be sly, run cunning, imitate the Irish in studied ambiguity, never tell the whole truth, never speak your whole mind, never feel or think or act as Englishmen, for the spirit and instinct of the English nation are diametrically opposed to you, and would scatter you and your plans and feelings to the four winds if you dared to avow them. The premiss is true enough, but what are we to think of the conclusion? We do not wish to be unfair to Mr. Oakley. No doubt if a small minority is to gain a hearing, they must go by steps and work with such means as are available for them; but what a revelation his essay affords of the gulf between sincere Roman Catholics and English Protestants! We must give up all the principles in which we feel most deeply that we are right; we must alter the whole spirit of our legislation and government; we must make fundamental changes in the principles on which we govern foreign dependencies, such for instance as India, if we are to come over to him. Protestantism has been described as a mere negation. This is utterly untrue; it involves a positive view of morality irreconcileable with Romish theology, and so sacred to those who hold it that they would run all risks here and hereafter rather than not acknowledge its obligations and act upon it as far as human infirmity will admit.
There is one part of Mr. Oakley's essay which inclines us charitably towards him. He is the one writer in this volume who speaks with anything like fairness on the attitude of the Established Church with respect to infidelity. He does appear to see that a consistent Romanist ought to believe and hope that the victory will rest with the former. He quotes with propriety the old line of Virgil:
‘Tua res agitur cum proximus ardet Ucalegon’The theory which explains Mr. Oakley's feelings is put forward in the plainest way and pushed to its extreme consequences in a paper of Mr. Lucas's, in two parts, called 'Christianity in relation to Civil Society.' It has met, we believe, with a good deal of praise, which is perhaps due to its eagerness and liveliness of style. Of Mr. Lucas personally we know nothing whatever, but he writes like a young, rather clever, and extremely zealous proselyte, who thinks that a proposition which appears obvious to him must of necessity be equally obvious to all mankind, and must he absolutely true. To us every important proposition which he lays down, with the exception of those which insist on the impossibility of combining a belief in an infallible Church with hearty loyalty to any civil government which refuses to be directed by the clergy in all important affairs, appear to be mere assumptions, most of which may be proved to be false, whilst there is no evidence of the truth of any one of them.
The substance of this essay is as follows:—First, there is always a discord between the ecclesiastical and the civil powers, and the ecclesiastical power is most likely to be right, because it contains more men of leisure 'accustomed to profound investigation' than the civil powers. Moreover 'the Church gauges with great nicety the capacity of her servants, appointing each to [the task for which his ability peculiarly fits him.'
If the Church is so much abler than the State, it is remarkable that its power should have been so greatly diminished, and that the human intellect should in the course of the last few centuries have almost entirely broken loose from its control, although in every part of Western Europe the Church at the beginning of that period occupied what Mr. Lucas views as its true position, and although it had every opportunity which money, leisure, and almost unquestioned authority could give, for directing the intellect of Europe in the way in which it should go. Can any one who looks at the history of Europe doubt that the Church does not possess the power claimed for it, or that the reason why it has lost ground and is still losing it everywhere, is that the force of truth, slowly recognized and applied in turn to many different subjects, is against it? Mr. Lucas apologizes for his arguments to 'men who have studied those subjects by mere philosophical and logical terms.' He appears to think that the Church is so wonderfully wise that ecclesiastical demonstrations of the truth of ecclesiastical creeds fly over the head of the laity, for he proceeds to say, 'The necessity, however, for plain men to form a judgment on these momentous questions is so paramount, and of such daily occurrence, that one feels instinctively there must be some easy way of arriving at sound conclusions—arguments convincing by their simplicity, 'and within the comprehension of most people.'
This is an astonishing sentence. In the first place it implies that 'philosophical and logical methods' are of necessity obscure and out of the comprehension of most people, but that besides these big holes for the cats, we are justified in an instinctive belief that there most exist little holes for the kittens. The Church, with its tremendous command of ability, human and superhuman, devises proofs of its mission, which convince 'by philosophical and logical methods.' Mr. Lucas devises 'easy means of arriving at sound conclusions' for the bulk of men.
Upon this we observe, first, that it is the greatest triumph of genius to make proofs and arguments as easy and simple as the state of the facts to which they relate permit them to be, and that if there are two ways of proving a thing, the simplest is the best.
Secondly, to assume 'instinctively' that there must be easy ways of solving all important questions, is to fly in the face of all experience. The true theory of the nature of human knowledge, of the nature of morals, of astronomy, of disease, are all of them important. Are we justified in assuming 'instinctively' that there must be 'easy means of arriving at sound conclusions' on all these subjects? Were all men in all ages of the world justified in so thinking? If so, what 'easy means' were open to ancient navigators of 'arriving at sound conclusions' as to the course to be steered on a cloudy night, or by day out of sight of land? What 'easy means' are in the present day in the reach of a man attacked by the cholera of arriving at sound conclusions as to the treatment which he ought to adopt? Yet this question is 'momentous,' and if not of daily occurrence to every one, it occurs daily to some one or other. The true way of stating the matter is, that upon matters of interest easy means of arriving at some conclusions are generally devised. It does not follow that the conclusions are sound. The commonest and easiest way is that of begging the question, and many there be that walk therein. We proceed now to consider whether Mr. Lucas is not one of the number.
His argument is as follows:—'We all know that the Christian religion was established to provide the entire human race with the means of becoming reconciled to their offended Creator, and we all know that they were revealed to a few individuals who at that time were the whole of Christian society. The revelation of the means must evidently have been simple, since it was made by one Divine Person at one tune, to one small body of men.'
This sentence is bad in logic and false in fact. It is bad in logic. It does not follow that the revelation of the means must have been simple because it was made at one time to a few persons. Why should not a complicated revelation be made at one time to a few persons? Would it have been impossible for Jesus Christ to state a complicated scheme to twelve apostles in a sitting of four hours? Would it not have been easier to make such a statement to twelve persons than to twelve hundred?
It is false in fact. We none of us know anything like that which Mr. Lucas says we all know. At what time, in what words, to what persons, did Jesus Christ describe the means by which the human race was to be reconciled to their offended Creator? None of the words of Christ are recorded, except in the four Gospels. Nowhere in the four Gospels is any statement to the effect in question attributed to Christ. Before Mr. Lucas is entitled to argue that the means of producing a certain effect 'must evidently have been' simple, he ought to give at least some evidence that the end was proposed and means to promote it prescribed.
The words attributed to Christ in the three first Gospels are either moral discourses or parables. In the fourth Gospel there are also statements as to the internal individual relations between God and believers. Nowhere is there any approach to a statement of a theological scheme, or any hint at an organization prepared for impressing it on mankind. The utmost that can be said is, that there are three or four obscure and incidental expressions which perhaps had some sort of reference to the subject, and which are perfectly consistent with any theory of Church government.
'The law of Christ,' says Mr. Lucas, 'is all that he revealed to men of their duties to God and to each other; and there could hardly be omitted from the revelation, either in germ or otherwise, those of individuals, and especially those of the new society to civil governments.'
This way of arguing would equally prove that the Christian revelation included all truth whatever, for there is no portion of truth which is not in some way relevant to the duties of men towards God and each other. The importance of this will appear from the rest of his argument, which we will give as far as possible in his own words. 'The primary object of the establishment of the Society' (this is Mr. Lucas's name for the Church) 'was that it should declare to the world certain truths that God had revealed to it. . . . But truth being one and the object of the Society being to teach the truth, the Society must be one also.'
Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat. The multiplication-table is one, and therefore it can be taught only by one body of teachers. Mr. Lucas forgets that the fact that any particular body of doctrine is true, renders it independent of organization—any one can teach the truth.
He proceeds. The Society was not only one, but was also universal. It was to embrace all space, all time, all mankind, and every part of each individual man's nature. The reason for this last element of universality is that, 'when human nature fell in Adam, the fall was entire; every faculty of mind and body rebelled. . . . Every portion of his being became degraded. . . . In this state the Society found all mankind. ... It was to rescue the human race from this condition that the Society was created, and if it were to act with real efficacy on the fallen nature of man, it must have a control over all his faculties, as complete and thorough as was the fall. ... In order to be able to rearrange, it was necessary to have the entire command over all the facts. And as the Society was of divine institution, the powers conferred upon it could not be otherwise than perfectly adapted to their end.'
Every one of these statements is pure assumption, and is false besides. Every faculty of body rebelled and was degraded, and restored. Was it? How is the sense of smell degraded? How has Christianity restored it in any single instance? If the intellect's degraded, how can it weigh the evidence for Christianity, and how can Mr. Lucas be sure that it is not the degraded part of his own intellect which leads him to believe in his present creed? How did the Church rescue a race of which, according to the teaching of most of its teachers, a vast proportion has always been and still continues to be eternally damned? Where is the evidence that Jesus Christ intended to establish a society which was to regenerate mankind? The burden of the first three Gospels is morality, repentance, prayer. The burden of the fourth is a mystical union between God and the soul. Men are to be born again by the grace of God. There is to be a union between Christ and those who believe in him, like the union between the vine and the branches. After his departure the Comforter is to come. It is not said, 'When I depart the twelve apostles are to act as my general agents and to transmit their authority to such persons as they think fit, who are to repeat the process, and their representatives for the time being are to have power to make laws and declare the truth upon all emergent controversies.' What was said was,' Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.' Is the union of the Father and the Son a matter of organization, of subjection to a common government which has legislative and judicial power, or is it a union of will and feeling? Do the words quoted suggest unity amongst Christians as the means by which the world was to be conquered and governed (which is Mr. Lucas's view), or as the end which is to be produced by the triumph of the spirit of Christianity? Do they contemplate the unity of an army or the unity of a family?
Passing from the original powers and design of the Church to the question of its organization, Mr. Lucas expresses his disapproval of M. Guizot's 'fanciful theory,' 'that the earliest Christians were a pure association of men with common belief and sentiments, but without any form of discipline, or of laws, or any body of magistrates.' Such a theory, says Mr. Lucas, is bad on the face of it. The Society was founded on a most ambitious plan. The fundamental principle was 'to carry the Society through the whole earth, to subdue all men to obedience to the revelation by which it was guided, to subject them to the law of Christ. ... It were absurd to imagine that a plan so stupendous was launched into the world with no more provision for its success than the fickle resolution of a few men. . . . We must bear in mind that the necessity for a revelation having arisen from disobedience, the propagation of the new law must be intrusted to men who were not only fully acquainted with it, but were firmly determined to adhere to it with perfect submission. Such were chosen for these very reasons, and were endowed with supernatural power, to enable them at the same time to perform their work and to keep their resolutions. When, therefore, by their preaching, other men were induced to join their body it is impossible to conceive that they had not rules by which the new members were to be bound, and powers enforcing those roles. . . . The idea of twelve men setting about a work plainly superhuman, . . . the idea of twelve men of only average common sense, with these difficulties before them, thinking for a single instant of undertaking to conquer the world without a plan, with no form of discipline, without laws, and without an executive, ... is so contrary to the experience of every-day life that it can only be accounted for upon some theory of a mysterious supernatural assistance, which no one can explain, and upon which no known sect has dared in its own case to rely.' These reasons assure Mr. Lucas that there 'must have been' one organized society from the first, or, in plain words, a divinely-established form of Church government. He hints at some Biblical continuation of this theory, but dismisses it very shortly, and, with reference to the interests of his cause, judiciously. The reasons already given in his own words are the real grounds of his belief, they »re the 'easy means' by which he arrives at' sound conclusions.'
They are certainly easy enough, for Mr. Lucas begins by assuming that he knows exactly what was the relation of man to God subsequently to Adam's fall, what was the nature of the evils produced by that catastrophe, how and in what sense God intended to set natters right, and what steps ‘must have been' taken by the first members of the Church to carry out that intention. Upon every one of these topics he makes sweeping assertions, and in no one instance does he even attempt to give any sort of proof. The ease of arriving at conclusions in this way is indisputable; but whether the trouble is greater or less it is thrown away, for it would be even more easy to assert the desired conclusions at once on Mr. Lucas's own authority, and it would be quite as convincing.
Obvious, however, as Mr. Lucas's views seem to himself, they will probably fail to satisfy others. In the first place his whole conception of Christianity is narrow and one-sided in the extreme. It is very likely that he may be unable to conceive of Christianity under any other form than that of a militant society the members of which were conscious of having received directly from God an organization by which they were 'to subdue all men under obedience to the revelation by which they were guided.' It is natural enough that for him the Christian Church should be no more than an antedated order of Jesuits — an organized conspiracy against mankind for their own good. Faith in the infinite power of drill, and in the infinite importance of external ostensible church membership, is the very essence of Romanism; but Christianity is quite a different thing. All through the Acts, as indeed all through the Gospels, the great object aimed at is the conversion of individuals, the bringing home to their minds of the truths taught by Christ and the apostles. Mr. Lucas's head is so full of 'the Society,' and the impossibility of conceiving that it had no rules, and of the absurdity of twelve men pretending to conquer the world without organization, that he quite forgets that there is such a thing as the human soul, and that when truth, or that which it believes to bo true, is preached to it, effects of immense importance are produced. He confounds cause and effect. Faith renders organization possible. Connect a multitude of people together by the clastic bond of common beliefs and feelings, and they will make whatever rules they want from time to time. Many creeds, many opinions, many schools, have had a vast influence over mankind with very little organization, and, as a matter of fact, Christianity has operated and does still operate on many millions under radically different forms of Church government. There is scarcely any doctrinal difference between the Wesleyans and the Church of England, yet each body is organized in quite a different way, and no one of common fairness can deny that the form of Church government which exists amongst the Roman Catholics at the present day differs widely from the forms which existed at earlier times. The Christian spirit, Christian morals resting upon the great fundamental belief of all—the doctrine of a good God, who not only rules but loves mankind, is the essence of Christianity, and has given, and still does give, life to scores of 'organizations' of very different degrees of merit, and fitted for various purposes.
The most singular point in this branch of Mr. Lucas's argument is the strangeness of the view which his argument implies as to the origin of the success of Christianity. He seems to think that those means must have been taken to secure its success which prudence would suggest to persons who contemplated it from the first as the result of their own devices. According to him the apostles must have devised and laid down from the first the scheme which ultimately succeeded, because no men 'of average common sense' would have done otherwise. In a person who did not believe in any providential arrangement of human affairs such an opinion would be intelligible, though not sound; for as Mr. Lucas himself well observes, 'for the most part societies which have exercised an important influence on mankind have begun with no idea of their future expansion, which has resulted from opportunity rather than from an original intention.' In Mr. Lucas's mouth it is simply astonishing. If the work were, as he says, 'plainly superhuman,' the providence of God would secure its success by providing proper opportunities, and the organization of which so much is said would be merely a subordinate means. If, on the other hand, the work were merely human, Mr. Lucas's own principle shows that there is no reason to suppose that the apostles knew how far their creed would spread. Mr. Lucas is so anxious to give the Church, by which he really means the clergy, all the credit that is to be got out of Christianity, that he all but leaves God's providence put of account. It is only as the inventor of the wonderful machine which is the real object of Mr. Lucas's worship, that God comes in at all.
Mr. Lucas is not content with knowing a priori that there must have been an organization, but he can also tell us a priori what that organization must have been. 'The revelation and the executive of the Society were necessarily in the same hands. It could not be otherwise. .... There were just twelve men who could teach, and they would die within seventy years. . . . But absence and death being inevitable, they must have been prearranged for. Provision must have been made in God's will from the first. .... But what provision was most natural, most simple, and therefore most certainly really made? For absence a delegated authority, for death one to succeed.' In order to avoid contradictory interpretations and the like an appeal must have lam (these are not Mr. Lucas's words; on this point he is in terms a little less positive) ' to the college or council of apostles, either under a presidency or otherwise.' There were great internal dangers from heresy, and external dangers from persecution. 'To guard effectually against these two dangers the society must' (sic) 'have been organized on a system capable of meeting both unintentional errors and malicious opposition.' If this was so, by the way, it is odd that notwithstanding this miraculous organization there should as a matter of fact have been heresies of every description from the very first ages of Christianity, to say nothing of frequent quarrels between the apostles themselves, of which their writings still bear traces.
So delighted is Mr. Lucas with these arguments that he cannot understand how any one can resist them. He sums them up as follows:—'Against all the influences we have mentioned, with their thousands of ramifications, it would have been folly to open a combat at all, unless by an express command from God. But for a body of men unorganized and without a plan to have done so would have been the height of folly. Now, while on the one hand nobody denies the command to enter upon the combat, on the other nobody pretends to produce evidence of a command not to organize. The utmost that any writer can allege is that he cannot find an account which is satisfactory to himself of a primitive organization. This inability may be judged of in various ways, but reflection confirms the prima facie view as to probabilities and the acknowledged fact of the early existence of a perfect society, together with the untraceableness of the steps by which its parts became harmonized into a complete whole, shows not that the government was of gradual growth, but rather that it must date from the first days of the society.'
There is a sort of audacity about this argument which fairly puzzles an antagonist. The best way of answering it fairly is to state it shortly. The Roman Catholic form of church government must have been divinely established, because there must have been some such form, and no other can show a letter title. The argument would do just as well the other way. No farm of church government can have been divinely established, because a form of government so established must have survived with due credentials, but no existing form has such credentials.
The plain fact is that 'must have been' is a foolish phrase. It is manifestly absurd to attempt to farm any notion a priori as to the way in which a supernatural revelation would be either published or preserved. We ought to look at the facts and nothing else. The fact undoubtedly is that all our accounts of the discipline and government of the early church show as clearly as possible that the formation of the system of Church government was gradual, and that its character varied greatly at different times and places. If Mr. Lucas wants to produce any real effect he had better refute Mosheim, Dupin, Milman, Gibbon, and many other eminent writers, by positive evidence, instead of wasting time by talking about what 'must have been.'
When we pass from Mr. Lucas's vision, for it really deserves no better name, as to the organization of the early Church to his inference from the supposed fact that the existing organization and claims of the Romish Church are themselves of divine origin, we are less concerned to dispute his arguments, because we agree with his main conclusion, which is, that if there be such a body as he describes, it must 'claim a legitimate control over the actions' of other bodies of men in many particulars, and must be independent of all of them. Of course, if it is true that God Almighty invested a particular order of men with special powers, and endowed them with supernatural knowledge by which the exercise of those powers might be regulated, it follows of necessity that they must be the moral and spiritual sovereigns of the world. This means they must have the power of defining all duties in all relations of life, and of censuring in various forms those who refuse to act upon their views of the obligations which result from those duties. Every one, from the Queen on the throne to the lowest of her subjects, is, as an individual, subject to the Church, and liable to spiritual censures for any act which they may do either in their public or private capacity. For instance, if the Church pleased, it might (it would seem, through some organ or other, some suppose through the Pope) enjoin every individual member of Parliament to vote for a bill for the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, and the suppression of the Protestant religion by fire and sword. Thereupon it would become the duty of every individual member of the three estates of the realm to act accordingly, and their refusal to do so would render them liable to eternal damnation or purgatory, which may, according to circumstances, mean torture till the day of judgment.
This supremacy cannot of course be confined to any one department of things, for all things have a moral and spiritual side; and as all persons have a spiritual character, the Church or the Pope in so far as he represents the Church, may lawfully command all men in relation to all things. The only difference between these commands and those of the civil power is that they are enforced by different kinds of sanctions. Each power is equally spiritual in the sense of being invisible and intellectual. Nothing can be clearer than the manner in which Mr. Lucas states this point. 'Government,' he says, 'is not, in any correct sense of the term, a thing to be looked at and handled. Essentially it is an operation of the mind. . . . The whole difference between ‘the civil ruler and the spiritual ruler is in the mode of employing the same tools. The former acts through the general and the magistrate, the latter uses the same officers through the civil ruler when coercion becomes necessary.' The spiritual ruler may set physical force in motion by spiritual means, just as the civil ruler sets it in force by moral means. The Church may say, 'Victoria, burn that heretic, or you shall be damned, just as the Queen may say,' Sheriff of Middlesex, take A. B.'s body or goods, in execution, or you shall go to prison. 'To endeavour to cut off the spiritual government from a voice in the secular, is not only contrary to that natural order of things whereby the inferior is subordinated to the superior, but it is even to abridge the superior of its connexion with the inferior by one half the object of its creation, viz., that of teaching and enforcing the duties of men 'among themselves.' The only palliative of this enormous power is that the State has a province of its own recognized by the Church, and not invaded unless the Church thinks it necessary for its own purposes. 'There is no question of the Christian interfering with the civil government till the former has passed, or is about to pass a line within which its action is free. It is only when interests are affected altogether within the cognizance and control of organized Christianity that the latter protests.' The State, he says, recognizes this, for it discusses many questions, as those which relate to marriage and education, or 'the holding or confiscation of certain property,' with a 'professed respect for the interests of Christianity,' (as if this implied the recognition of any form of Church government); then he adds, 'But observe its only mode of interference is by exercising an intellectual and moral influence over its own subjects. If the State refuse to place its material at the command of the spiritual power, the latter has no means of compulsion; it can only persuade. Passive obstruction may be offered, and even, in extreme cases, the supreme protector' (i.e., the Church) 'may call upon subjects for support, as against the rebellious State. It will be for the Supreme Protector to decide at what point the case has assumed gravity enough to call for the exercise of such opposition.' This is merely a new way of claiming for the Pope, as head of the Church, all the powers of deposing sovereigns and releasing subjects from their oaths of allegiance; the attempt to exercise which has more than once convulsed all Europe, and which it had been generally supposed had been quietly dropped by Roman Catholics as a mediaeval extravagance, as they have dropped several other doctrines from their immutable creed.
Mr. Lucas proceeds to vindicate this view of the case from the liberalism of M. de Montalembert. He argues against his formula 'L'Eglise libre dans 1'Etat libre.' The Church cannot be 'in' the State. The State—all the states in the world—are either in the Church or else,' as nearly every state is,' they are infidel bodies from which the Chorch must get all it can and to which it can concede nothing. There can be no other relation between the two powers than supremacy on the part of the Church, and subjection on the part of the State. 'To talk of reciprocity between the two powers is to suppose the temporal able to give something to the spiritual, equal in value to what the latter gives, and which the latter is supposed to give in return. Now this is a great mistake. The Christian organization, as we tried to show, is not only independent of the State, but actually has the State in a great measure dependent upon itself. The State has nothing whatever to give or to withhold which is of any value to the spiritual power. . . . If the State is Christian it must, both in the persons of its members and in itself, submit to the Society' (the Church) 'out of duty.' M. de Montalembert is reproved for speaking with approbation of liberty of conscience. His assertion that 'liberty of conscience was put into the world on the day when the first pope replied to the first of the persecutors, non possumus,' Mr. Lucas meets by saying, 'To my apprehension that was the very day when conscience, which had been only too free before, was declared bound. Freedom of conscience was at an end. It was no principle of liberty that was invoked. He announced not conscience at liberty, but conscience bound to speak. As against Pagans he could demand liberty for Christians; but not us a principle for Pagans and Christians alike. . . . Nothing was ever further from the mind of St Peter when he said, 'We must obey God rather than men," than to assert a liberty which should allow a Christian State to permit the entrance of heresy within its borders.' Mr. Lucas observes that some persons justify M. de Montalembert on the special and personal ground that he did not mean what he said. That he was practising, we suppose (to borrow Mr. Oakley's phrase), some of 'those studied ambiguities of language which our theology rather permits than encourages.' It may be said that 'when he speaks against the Inquisition, persecution, and privilege, he is throwing dust in the eyes of our adversaries. On these points he does not mean what ho seems to say. He is advocating your cause. He is a special pleader on your behalf, and it is not wise to expose the fallacies his phrases seem to contain.' Mr. Lucas is far from rejecting this view with the disgust which it deserves, though he certainly does reject it. He almost seems, to think that it might have been true if the language had been less emphatic and more ambiguous. 'To imagine that it is part of M. de Montalembert's plan to give expression to sentiments which he does not entertain, and that in such language as scarcely admits of a double interpretation, would be to suppose a want of candour quite unworthy of the man. And, besides, his own declaration is so pointed, that one cannot accept the explanation suggested.' The presumption that a sincere Roman Catholic must want to defend ' the Inquisition, persecution, and privilege,' is so strong, that any ambiguity in the language which he may use must charitably be supposed to have been adopted with a view to such a result. Mr. Lucas himself certainly lets us know what to expect. He has no personal sympathy with the 'studied ambiguities of language' and systems of economy which Mr. Oakley almost recommends. A little further on he describes 'a denial of modern notions respecting freedom of conscience, coercion on behalf of religion, and peculiar privilege, as it is called,' as 'right Christian principles.' He says, too, that the true way of dealing with these modern notions is 'to repeat constantly, at all seasons in all societies, on every possible occasion to reiterate that the history and principles upon which they are built have been falsified for centuries upon a plan deliberately and of set purpose. . . . Our attitude must not be one of defence and apology, but of attack and exposure, of taunt and of ridicule.' Is it not written, love thy neighbours and hate thine enemy, curse them that tolerate you, taunt and ridicule those who are just to you, attack and expose those who have ceased to use you despitefully. and who abstain on principle from all persecution, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun rise on the good but not on the evil, and sendeth rain to the just only and never to the unjust.
This is Mr. Lucas's view of the relations of the Church to civil societies. It was read to a learned society, founded by Cardinal Wiseman, and is published in a volume which is superintended and edited by Dr. Manning. It thus represents the opinions of the most active party of English Roman Catholics in the present day; and this gives it an importance which a performance so crude, so rash, and so insolent would not otherwise deserve. It is much the fashion in the present day to describe particular opinions and writings as being logical. Any one who pleases may entitle himself to that praise by the simple plan of following out a single line of thought without the least regard to facts, and with a thorough determination never to accept a reductio ad absurdum. A man who on these terms cannot be logical, must, indeed, be an absolute idiot. Where you are at liberty to assume what you please, there is no - excuse for being inconsistent. Alnaschar's day dream about the profits of his speculation in pottery was perfectly consistent and logical, and its merits are much on a par with those of Mr. Lucas in the present essay.
It must also be borne in mind that Mr. Lucas has the advantage of absolute freedom from all responsibility. There is a schoolboy proverb which says, 'When you tell a lie tell a good one,' which in this case means, when you set up a paradox make it striking. As there is not the remotest chance that you or your friends will ever get any part whatever of what they demand, demand ten times more than any sane man or pope ever asked for. When an action is brought merely for the sake of blackguarding the other side, and with a full consciousness that a nonsuit is inevitable, it is just as well to lay the damages at £20,000. If you have the remotest chance of getting one farthing, a little modesty is occasionally useful.
Even after giving credit for this reflection, the style-of the whole performance is particularly offensive. It is arrogant as only those who are altogether free from all the responsibility of power can be arrogant. Mr. Lucas writes as if his object were to taunt and goad Protestants into persecuting him. He is the subject not of the Queen but of the Pope. Ho takes a puerile pleasure in advocating persecution, and in telling us all that it is quite right that there should be one rule for Catholics and another for Protestants. To the extent of his powers he plies every; institution or principle which we respect with contemptuous taunts. He wishes to look as violent, as paradoxical, and as offensive as he possibly can. There are positions in life in which the will must be taken for the deed. If the frog wants to challenge the ox to mortal combat it may perhaps be his best policy to croak his very loudest, and to puff himself out to the fullest possible extent; but when all is done he is not an impressive creature. Whether he is least unimpressive in his swollen or in his normal condition is a question not the least worth debating. The inherent weakness of Mr. Lucas's cause is such that as it could not have been concealed by modesty so it cannot well be exaggerated by bragging. He will certainly not succeed in irritating the contemptuous good nature of the British public into violence. Two centuries have passed since Christian watched with contempt the impotent rage of the two old giants Pope and Pagan, who mumbled and cursed at him on his road. Those two centuries have not increased the strength of Mr. Lucas and his party. We can afford to let him teach treason as much as he likes without the smallest penalty, except a mild surprise at his caring to do it. The principles which he loathes protect him, and will continue to do so, and he knows it perfectly well. As for the merits of his argument it is enough to say that he begins by constructing a baseless and puerile vision of what .the Church 'must have been.' Taking this as proved, he works out the results with a degree of indifference to facts of every kind which lands him in conclusions so absurd that between one who asserts and one who denies them there can hardly be sufficient common ground for argument. The best way of showing this is by stating the counter view, and asking which of the two is most in accordance with the facts of history in general, and with those of Christian history in particular.
The counter view, of the Christian revelation and the Christian Church, is somewhat to the following effect:—Jesus Christ appeared upon earth, and by all that he there did and said in the space of thirty-three years, produced a vast effect upon mankind.
There is no doubt as to the general nature of his moral teaching, or as to the general nature of the example which he set.
There is room for great difference of opinion as to the facts of his history, inasmuch as no perfect record of them remains, and the records which do remain are obviously imperfect.
There is little room for doubt as to the nature of the doctrines ascribed to Christ by those who described themselves as his disciples between two and three hundred years after his death. They are embodied in the Nicene and in the Apostles' Creed.
Authentic documents of those who undoubtedly were original Christians (especially the Epistles of St. Paul) still remain, and from them we can learn much as to the doctrines prevalent in very early times m the Christian Church respecting its founder; but what we learn is incomplete and fragmentary, and does not suggest the existence of any perfect system at that time.
Whether Jesus Christ really taught the doctrines afterwards ascribed to him, and whether he taught any definite system of theology at all, is altogether doubtful.
The history of the Church itself is plainer, though for the first two centuries, or indeed for nearly three, it is singularly obscure. We have, however, abundant proof that from the very first it was neither unanimous in doctrine nor under any one system of government, though its different parts were bound together by the strongest possible unity of sentiment. By degrees it comes forth into the light of day, and then we see a vast society spread over the whole of the world then known, of which the clergy were the aristocracy, and of which councils were the legislature. The distinctions of the bishops amongst themselves as patriarchs, metropolitans, and the like, were moulded for the most part on the civil divisions of the Roman Empire. By a series of well-known historical incidents the Bishops of Rome (who had always been of the highest rank amongst bishops) gradually extended their power from one thing to another, till at last they became the spiritual sovereigns of Europe, though the Greek Church never was subject to them, and, together with some other ancient communities, still survives as a standing and conclusive proof of the falsehood of the monstrous claims put forward by or for them.
The power of Rome, having been carried to its utmost point by Hildebrand and Innocent III., gradually declined, and at last, by the monstrous wickedness of those who held it, gave such scandal that checks were put upon it all over Europe, long before the doctrinal questions which arose at the Reformation had reached their full maturity.
At the Reformation the papal system of Church government was broken up in many parts of the world, and others of various degrees of merit were established.
As to Christian theology the history of it shortly is this. Part, though it is impossible to say precisely how much, was probably taught by Christ himself. Part may certainly be traced to St. Paul, though no complete system can be obtained from his writings. Part was gradually put together from a variety of sources in the course of the first three centuries. It was taken from scripture, tradition, moral and philosophical speculation, &c. When Christianity prevailed over Paganism, a very large infusion of Pagan superstitions was taken up into the system. At a still later period the schoolmen took up the mass of beliefs thus formed, and with perverted ingenuity worked it up, together with many other subjects, into a pseudo science, which for several centuries imposed upon mankind in all departments of life, and which is now universally discredited in all subjects other than theology, and in theology itself in almost every part of Europe. At the Reformation a great effort was made to get rid of the corruptions of this system; and much of it actually was put on one side, though unhappily the work was very imperfectly done, and though much was left for future generations to do.
Upon this view, it is admitted and even contended that each of the two great factors of Christianity, theology and Church government, are in their existing condition, and always have been in every age of the world, deeply infected with human folly and wickedness. A perfectly pure Church, a perfectly true theology, there never has been in the world.
How then, it is of course asked, can you pretend to believe that Christianity is a Divine revelation? The answer is, because, great as have been its scandals, faults, and corruptions, it has, in point of fact, been the great channel through which that part of the world with which we are concerned have derived whatever knowledge of God they possess. If there is a God who cares for men at all, and governs them in his providence for their moral and spiritual good, this appears to have been the way in which, in fact, he has governed us and enlightened us as to his nature and attributes. Just in the same way civil society, with all its hideous tyranny, confusion, and oppression; physical science, with its long list of errors, its partial success, its dark gaps, are instruments by which, in fact, he has taught us about human affairs and the constitution of inanimate matter. These are divine revelations as much as if an angel from heaven had proclaimed the final results of science or politics in so many words out of a shining cloud in the sky. If, therefore, any a priori notion at all can be formed as to the way in which God would be likely to reveal, discover, or make known (the particular word is immaterial) to mankind his own nature and the character of their relation to him, the revelation might be expected to be gradual and imperfect, made out by degrees, and harmonized by degrees with other parts of knowledge. At all events the manner of its communication, the degree of completeness and precision in its contents, the perfection or imperfection of the vehicle in which it is contained, would all be questions of fact, and to attempt to decide them a priori is like attempting to write history a priori—which is a very pretty amusement if you know the facts a posteriori before you begin.
Let us now compare these two ways of viewing Christianity with a few acknowledged facts in history, and see which of the two best fits into them. First let us take the two general facts of heresy and schism. It is quite clear from the New Testament that there were violent disputes upon important subjects amongst the early Christians and between the apostles themselves. Every one of St. Paul's Epistles is more or less controversial. They are, indeed, far more polemical than dogmatic. The Epistle of James almost directly controverts the Epistle to the Romans. In every one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation there were sects and heresies, and the same was the case at Corinth, as we learn from the Epistle to the Corinthians. Nay, the general nature of the controversy may still be traced. It was the controversy between Paul and Peter, between faith and works, between those who held by and those who rejected the Jewish law; and the traces of this deep and indeed vital question are to be found far down in the history of the Christian Church, and are indeed by no means unlike the controversy which still exists between those who, with Mr. Lucas, regard the external organization, the laws of Church government and discipline, as the essence of Christianity, and those who, with Protestants in general, regard the truths of Christianity as matters at once too wide, too deep, and too subtle to be imprisoned in any one set of formulas or rigidly associated with any one set of institutions. As we come down the stream of time, we find that upon every one of the great and characteristic doctrines of Christianity furious disputes arose, which at different times have agitated the whole Christian world, eastern and western, ancient and modern, Romish and Protestant. On looking into these disputes, it is impossible for a candid person not to admit that perfect good faith and sincere conviction were found on each side of almost every controversy, and that it is impossible to say that in any controversy either side could boast of an exclusive possession of the moral virtues of Christianity. If we look at the condition of the Christian world at the present day we shall find the Christian name claimed by about a third of the human race, who are divided, as a matter of fact, into a great number of denominations, all differing more or less in their theological opinions, and all containing wide internal differences. The controversies, active or dormant, amongst the Roman Catholics themselves, are just as deep and numerous as those of Protestants. Yet amongst all these there is a broad, general resemblance, and a sympathy deep and strong enough to give them all a proximately identical standard of morals and a common form of civilization.
How can this state of things be reconciled with the theory that the Church was to subject all mankind to one common law and to teach them all one common dogma? In fact it never did any such thing, and it has notoriously failed if that were its object. The Christian Church is not one in creed. It is a collection of sects, each with its own creed. To pick out the biggest sect, and say that that is the Christian Church, and that the rest are not Churches at all, is like taking the largest fragment of a broken looking-glass, and maintaining that as that is the real glass, the glass itself has never been broken.
This diversity of Christian opinion presents no difficulty to a thoroughgoing Protestant, for he does not believe that Christianity was or is based upon any theological system whatever. He considers that many different views may be taken of the nature of God and man, and of the relations between them; that all such views are imperfect approximations to the truth; that though some are better and others worse, their comparative merits are a question of degree.
Look again at schism. In point of fact there is not and never has been (except, possibly, in very early times) one uniform system of government extending over all the Church. To go no further, there is the division between the Eastern and the Western Church. Of the two the Eastern Church is the most venerable. It is unquestionably traceable from the Apostles downwards. It has been infinitely less disturbed by controversy in the course of the last thousand years or more than the Latin Church, and there it stands now, as it stood twelve hundred years ago, utterly repudiating all authority on the part of the Pope, and denouncing him as heretical and schismatical. How can such a fact as this be made to square with Mr. Lucas's theory about Church unity? If that unity implies unity of government, where is the true Church, if there can be but one? But if there can be two, why may not there be two hundred? To treat such a fact as an exception or an anomaly, is absurd. 'The Church must have been one when it was established, and you may observe it is one still. About half of its members, indeed, are out of its unity, but that is a mere anomaly, and may be balanced by the reflection that all good men are in its unity, though they themselves do not know it.' Without some such monstrous perversion of common sense as this, it is impossible to reconcile the claims made on behalf of the Church of Rome with historical facts.
If those claims were even proximately true, schism and heresy are and must be grievous sins; and it is impossible to suppose that such sins can be persisted in for hundreds of years without producing corresponding results. If whole nations live habitually in the practice of great sin, surely their characters must suffer from it. Spain, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, South America, ought to be heavens on earth in comparison with England, Scotland, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, and the United States. Take, for instance, the well-known and almost crucial instance of the Protestant and Catholic cantons of Switzerland. It has often been said that there is a very perceptible contrast between them in favour of the former. Be this how it may, and wo certainly do not assert the fact, it is idle to say that there is any such contrast the other way, as the Romish theory requires. A Protestant may say with perfect propriety that there are advantages in each form of religion, assuming each to be held in good faith, and with a sincere conviction of its truth; and he may think that to hold Romanism with such a conviction is possible only at a certain stage of popular instruction, and to people of a particular type of character. He is not obliged to feel, and if he is a rational man he generally does not feel, any violent hostility to the system so long as it is tolerant and quiescent. He views it calmly, admits such merits as it possesses, and expects to find a corresponding cast of character in countries where it prevails,—an expectation in which he is not often disappointed. A Roman Catholic, if sincere and thorough-going, cannot take this view. To do so would be to concede what he regards as the most vital of all principles. It would be treating religion (as he would say) 'as matter of opinion,' and this is altogether inconsistent with all the pretensions of his Church. If he is right in this, the facts ought surely to bear him out. He ought to be able to maintain on some intelligible grounds that his Church is really composed of better men and women than others, that they are better both in the positive and in the negative sense of the word; that they are more deeply influenced by a sense of duty towards God; that they are stronger, wiser, kinder, braver, more prudent, more active, more learned, more earnest in the pursuit of truth in all its departments; that they tell fewer lies, steal less often, are less sensual, less cruel and violent, less proud, less covetous, less given to bad language, than Protestants. It ought to be shown that the difference is so great that it cannot be overlooked or mistaken, and that it follows so closely the division between those who are and those who are not Roman Catholics, that nothing but the difference of creed can account for it. It would be simply childish to attempt to prove anything of the kind.
III. The General Position and Prospects of the Church Of Rome in comparison to those of the Church of England.
We now come to the last division of the remarks which the work before us suggests. They relate to the view taken by Ultramontanists of the present position and prospects of the Roman Catholic Church as contrasted with those of Protestant bodies. Upon this point, as might have been expected, there is at various intervals throughout the whole book a chorus of exultation, the justice of which may be properly estimated by considering the subject from two points of view— the logical and the historical.
We will begin with the logical point of view, inasmuch as there is nothing on which Roman Catholic disputants pique themselves more or with less justice than the logical strength of their position. They are never tired of the dilemma between Atheism and Popery. They continually insist on the impossibility that any intermediate creed, as they call other creeds, should be able to make out a case for itself. There are plenty of illustrations of this temper of mind in different parts of the present volume. Dr. Manning, though in other writings he refuses to go so far in this direction as Dr. Newman, tells us that the 'Anglican Establishment' is altogether in a state of dissolution. 'After rejecting the Divine authority of the Church, the tradition of dogma, the Catholic interpretation of Holy Scripture, it is ending by a denial of the inspiration and authenticity of the sacred books.' On the other hand, 'the Catholic Church, the mother of unwritten traditions, . . . stands sole as the pillar and ground of the truth, the witness and keeper of Holy Writ.' Further on he says, 'It is certain that as the Catholic Church stands at this hoar in England the only witness for unity of faith, so in ten years it will be recognized as the only Divine evidence, and therefore the only certain authority for the inspiration and canon of Holy Scripture.' Other expressions of a somewhat similar character are scattered through the volume, and the triumphant tone of a great part of it can be explained on no other ground than the one stated above. The answer to such notions is, that not only is the argumentative position of the Church of Rome bad in itself, hut it is far less tenable than that of the Church of England or any other Protestant body as against an infidel. Its real strength lies entirely in an appeal to the imagination. Over the reason fully exercised it has no power whatever. This matter is so often misunderstood that it is worth while to examine it with some care.
Whenever any system is examined, whether it be a system of religion or anything else, the one ill-important question respecting it a whether it is true or false? and this question must be separately decided with respect to every existing system by itself. If it is necessarv to go further and find out which of two different systems, both or either of which may be wholly or partially true or false, is in the better position, this must be arrived at by a comparison of the ways in which they acquit themselves in their respective contests with those who deny them. If, for instance, you wish to compare the relative strength of Mahometanism and Buddhism, you must see what kind of answer each makes to a person who denies its truth, and then compare the two answers. The case of a person who proposes a religious system to the adoption of his fellow-creatures must be proved from the beginning to the end against all comers. To say to a person who agrees with him up to a certain point, unless you go further, you will not be able to defend yourself against our common antagonist, is altogether illogical and irrelevant, unless it is also proved that by going further he will find a defence. If the arguments of the common antagonist are unanswerable, there is no reason why he should go the first stage, the whole journey is shown to be labour thrown away.
Bearing this in mind, let us now examine the general character of the arguments alleged by the Church of Rome and the Church of England in favour of their respective views. The general doctrine of the Church of Rome is, that God seeing fit to make a revelation to man, Jesus Christ, bearing a certain character, revealed to mankind certain doctrines in a certain way, and instituted a society organized in a particular manner, for the purpose, amongst other things, of preaching and expounding those doctrines with infallible authority. The general doctrine of the Church of England is, that God seeing fit to make a revelation to man, Jesus Christ, bearing a certain character, revealed to mankind certain doctrines in a certain way, [and instituted a society which, though neither immutable in organization, nor infallible as to doctrine, was and is in various ways the principal agent by which the doctrines so revealed are communicated to and impressed upon mankind.
In reducing to a specific form the general terms of these statements, there are great differences amongst the members of both Churches. Though they may at present have fallen to some extent out of sight, the controversies amongst the Roman Catholics have been as numerous and quite as important as the controversies amongst members of the Church of England. Passing over this, however, and confining ourselves to the general statements specified above, let ns see what they include, and what are the respective difficulties of proving them as against those who deny them to be true. First, each Church has to prove that there is a God. Next, each Church has to prove that Jesus Christ bore the character and acted the part alleged. Lastly, the Church of Rome has to prove that he instituted such a Church as it contends for; and the Church of England has to prove that ho instituted such a Church as it contends for. Each of these three propositions (1), that God exists; (2), that Christ did and said certain things and bore a certain character; (3), that he instituted a Church with such and such powers, is an independent proposition to be proved by appropriate evidence, and failure to establish any one of them would be a failure on the part of the Church alleging it to make out its case. This being settled, let us next consider in what sense it can be alleged that the position of the Church of Rome is more logical than the position of the Church of England.
The first proposition to be proved is the existence of God. As this is common to the two Churches, every argument by which it can be supported as against those who deny it must also be common to both. The great arguments on the subject, those at least most usually employed, are the argument from design, the argument from the general consent of mankind, and the argument from innate or instinctive conviction. If these arguments all fail, the belief itself must fail. If there is no reason to believe that there is a God, then reasonable people will cease to believe in God; but if these arguments either jointly or separately prevail, it is impossible to doubt that they enure to the benefit of the whole human race, for the Protestant and Roman Catholic, the Jew, the Mahometan, the Buddhist, and the idolater.
The next proposition is that which asserts the mission, the character, and the conduct of Jesus Christ. Whatever view may be put forward on this subject, its truth is obviously a question of historical fact, to be investigated by the same rules as other questions of historical fact—that is to say, by comparing the antecedent probabilities of the case with the relevant positive testimony, and by deciding whether upon the whole the testimony warrants the assertion made. Self-evident as this proposition may appear when formally stated, it is constantly either neglected or denied, and it may therefore be well to give one illustration about it which puts it almost beyond the reach of cavil. Was any one bound to believe the truth about Christ (be it what it may) before Christ was born? Are persons bound to believe in it now who have never heard of it? The answer to this must of course be, No. But why not? Surely because they had or have no reason to believe it, because they had or have no evidence of it. Next, suppose that a Chinese who had never heard a word about Christianity received a true statement of it from a notorious liar and drunkard of the vilest moral character, would he be bound to believe? Again, No. Why not? Because though he would have some evidence, he would not have enough. Next, take the case of one of Christ's Apostles, who actually saw and heard with his own eyes all that took place. Was he bound to believe? No doubt he was. Why? Because he had the highest evidence that could be given. Travel over the whole scale which lies between him and the Chinese, and the question whether each particular person was or was not bound to believe, will have to be determined by reference to the force of the evidence accessible to that person. The question therefore is, and always was, and always must have been, in one form or another, a question of evidence, and of nothing else.
Now what logical advantage has the Church of Rome over the Church of England in proving the divine character, the miracles, and the general outline of the doctrines (be they what they may) which are ascribed to Christ? The question answers itself. There can be no such advantage. The arguments must address themselves either to the antecedent probability of the conclusion to be established, or to the force of the positive evidence. Now the antecedent probability of the history depends upon its conformity with that conception of God which we are supposed to have already formed upon other grounds. But this conformity can be shown by the Protestant quite as well as by the Roman Catholic. All arguments which go to show the general credibility of miracles, all arguments which show an analogy between that course of nature which is admitted to be of Divine institution and the characteristic doctrines of Christianity are open to each alike, and the same is still more obviously true of all arguments upon the facts themselves, like those of Paley and Lardner. It follows, therefore, that a Protestant is at least upon as good a footing as a Roman Catholic in all controversies relating to the existence of God, and to the history and teaching of Christ as against those who deny either the one or the other. What argument is there capable of being addressed either to Comte on the one hand, or to Strauss and Renan on the other, which can be employed by a Roman Catholic, and is not open to a Protestant?
Now the arguments against Comte and Strauss (taking them as types of Atheism and denial of historical Christianity) are either sound or unsound. If they are unsound, that can only be because Comte or Strauss is right. If they are sound, then Comte and Strauss are wrong, and the truth of Theism and of historical Christianity is established for the benefit of all the world, and not for that of one particular section of it. Every one is entitled to say there is a God. He sent Jesus Christ into the world, and Jesus Christ did and said the things recorded in the four Gospels, amongst others. Then, and not till then, will arise the third question, Is the Protestant or the Romanist view of the Church the true one? and if not, what other view of the nature and powers of the Church is true?
Be the merits of this controversy what they may, one thing is clear. Bona fide disputants on either side must always argue upon the supposition that there is independent proof both of the existence of a God and of the truth of the main features of the Christian history. The Roman Catholic theory may be the true one, and may be susceptible of proof by argument and evidence, but it cannot even be alleged to be true without admissions which give the Protestant a perfectly intelligible standing-ground, his right to which the Roman Catholic cannot contest without forfeiting his own position. Before it is possible to attach any cogency at all to the fact that Jesus Christ issued this or that command, made this or that promise, or founded this or that institution, it is necessary to believe that there was such a person, and that he possessed the powers and the character which are necessary to attach importance to what he said and did.
No higher guarantee could possibly be given, or was ever suggested, for the infallibility of the Church, than the promise of Christ. But this guarantee would be altogether insufficient unless Christ were believed either to be God, or to be in some special manner authorized by God to make such promises and give such orders. Hence the very case of the Roman Catholics presupposes the existence of reasonable grounds of belief in Christ, open to all the rest of the world as well as to themselves; and the inference is, that in making out their theory, they have not only got to prove all that the Protestant has to prove, and to deal with all the objections which may be urged against him, but they have also to prove their own special doctrine of infallibility, and to deal with all the difficulties which affect it, and which do not apply to the rest of the Christian creed. Whether this doctrine is true or false is not the question; but if the whole is greater than the part, to prove the infallibility of the Church in addition to the existence of God and the mission of Christ is more difficult than to prove the two last propositions alone. It must be harder to prove three things than to prove two.
There are, indeed, two arguments which might possibly be urged by Roman Catholics which would not be open to Protestants, but one of them would require a state of facts which obviously does not exist, and the other is so monstrous that it would hardly be advanced even by the most eager Ultramontanist.
If it could be shown that the evidence for the infallibility of the Church was precisely the same as the evidence for the existence and miraculous life of Christ; if it could be shown by the same witnesses who testify to the other facts of his life that Christ had in express words enunciated the Roman Catholic creed, and established the Roman Catholic form of Church government; if, in short, there were precisely the same reasons for believing that Christ had revealed in so many words all that the Pope now declares to be true, as for believing that Christ himself ever existed at all, then it might be said—take all or leave all; but there is no excuse for such an assertion. It is, indeed, so palpably false that it would be hard to suppose that any one who made it made it in good faith.
Again, it might possibly be alleged that the Romish system was in itself so admirable and divine, that it, and it alone, rendered credible first the existence of Christ, and then the existence of God; but this, for obvious reasons, is a monstrous assertion. We are not aware, indeed, that it has ever been made.
Having regard to these arguments, it is impossible to see what logical advantage the Church of Rome has over any Protestant Church whatever. It is easy, on the other hand, to show that it labours under immense disadvantages. In the first place, all objections which can be made against particular doctrines, common to both Protestants and Romanists are arguments, not only against those doctrines taken alone, but also against the doctrine of infallibility. No better proof can be given against the infallibility of a church than evidence which shows that in point of fact it is mistaken; and a person who denies the infallibility of Rome has a right to urge this argument with reference to each individual doctrine of the Romish creed. For instance. In arguing against a member of the Church of England, an objector might say.—The language of the Prayer Book and of the Articles about the sacrament appears to me inconsistent, unreasonable, unauthorized by Scripture, &c. &c. The answer might be, not only that this was not true, but that if it was true it did not matter. The Church of England, it might be said, does not pretend to infallibility. Great latitude of opinion exists and is permitted both amongst the laity and the clergy. The language to which you object may be objectionable, and if so there is no reason why it should not be altered so as to meet the truth. No one supposes that the framers of the Articles or of the Prayer Book were infallible. Whether Christ revealed anything whatever on these points, and what he revealed, are questions of fact; and it is always open to the Church of England to reconsider these questions and admit, if need be, that it has been mistaken.
As against the Church of Rome, on the contrary, objections to a particular doctrine are double-edged. They tend not only to overthrow the particular doctrine, but to destroy the collateral doctrine of infallibility. As the infallibility of the Church is no argument at all except to those who believe it, all special objections against particular doctrines retain their full power for those who do not believe it, and if any ono of them prevails the doctrine of infallibility is gone. The arguments against Consubstantiation are perhaps as strong as the arguments against Transubstantiation; but to show that Consubstantiation is absurd, proves merely that Luther, and those who thought with him on that subject, allowed their minds to be blinded by a fog of words. To show that Transubstantiation is absurd is to overthrow the whole Romish system, because it overthrows the cardinal doctrine of infallibility. Those who deny the legitimacy of this argument must be prepared to assert that any Church which claims infallibility thereby prevents all discussion of its particular doctrines, and confines the discussion to the one issue, whether there is satisfactory external evidence that it is infallible. The results of this would be monstrous. If, for instance, infallibility were claimed for Juggernauth, it would on this principle be illogical to say—You command human sacrifices which are wicked and displeasing to God, or you said one thing yesterday and another to-day, and therefore contradicted yourself. The truth is, that the claim of infallibility affects the imagination only. As a matter of reasoning it is irrelevant as respects adversaries, and superfluous as respects disciples. You cannot tarry belief in infallibility higher than a belief that you are right in supposing some one else to be infallible. That is, you believe in your own opinion for the time being. This is the whole logical effect of the doctrine of infallibility. In truth it is not a doctrine but a precept. 'Give me unlimited obedience in thought as well as in act.' No doubt compliance with such a claim has a powerful moral effect, but it has no intellectual value whatever. To assert that the logical position of the Roman Catholics is strengthened by their doctrine of infallibility is like asserting that heavy armour is a protection to swimmer. It protects him from dangers which he does not dread, by making it impossible for him to cope with the danger to which he is immediately exposed. The doctrine that the Church is infallible may be a comfort to those who already believe that it is right. To those who affirm that it is wrong it opens a thousand vulnerable points, and concedes that any wound that can be inflicted is mortal.
For these reasons it is difficult to understand how it comes to be so often said that the position of the Church of Rome is logically a strong one. Reflection, however, discloses the real meaning of the remark. It is twofold. It means in the first place that the Romish creed appeals to the imagination through the reason. Its arguments are not calculated to satisfy a strong mind bent on arriving at the truth, let that be what and where it will; but they are admirably adapted to subdue and amuse minds which are at once weak and ingenious; which desire not truth itself, but clever excuses for believing in a particular set of opinions, whether they really are true or not; and this is the reason why the creed is so attractive to women; and to men whose minds are feminine, active, keen, eloquent, and subtle, but cursed with the ono fatal defect, that they do not know truth from falsehood, and are incapable of learning the distinction. Such persons have often a strange charm for those who like delicate beauty. They can write with grace and purity, and when they get pathetic, with considerable force. They are great at arguments ad hominem. They are often good logicians, they possess to perfection that inexhaustible ingenuity in devising good reasons for false opinions, which is seen to perfection in a clever child who has not yet learned that words are valuable only when they represent facts; but this is all. To the male intellect, to those who will not be talked out of their senses, or be threatened out of their opinions, or be terrified out of confessing ignorance as to matters of which they are ignorant, and suspending their judgment as to matters on which they are doubtful, the eloquence and the logic and the sophistry are mere sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
Let us try to look in this spirit at Dr. Manning's gracefully triumphant sentences and see what they are worth. He tells us that in ten years the Roman Catholic Church 'will be recognized as the only divine evidence, and therefore, the only legitimate authority for the inspiration and canon of the Holy Scriptures.' If this be true, it follows that in twenty or thirty years the Bible itself will cease to be believed; for what argument is there, or can there be, which Dr. Manning can address to Strauss or Renan which cannot equally be addressed to them by any Protestant? The only real meaning of such an utterance as the one just quoted is and must be that the verdict of reason and evidence and conscience is against the Bible. That viewed by all the lights which these things can bring to bear upon it, the story of Christ told in the four Gospels is a lie. Let this be conceded, and the question, Why then should we believe it? becomes inevitable, and the answer that it is our duty to disbelieve and denounce it may be expected, and will undoubtedly be received from every honest man. Let us state Dr. Manning's case clearly and strip it of the pretty conventional veil in which he wraps it up, and then see how he likes it. It would stand thus:—The history of Jesus Christ is opposed to reason, it is not supported by evidence, it is not warranted by conscience. Apply to it the tests which you apply to other history, and it falls to pieces as incredible and absurd. Every prudent and sensible man is bound to reject it if he applies to its consideration those rules upon which he constantly acts, and which he invariably recognizes as guides to truth in all the affairs of life; but there is a way of believing it. Believe it on my credit. 'And who,' asks the astonished disciple, 'who are you?' 'I am the Archbishop of Westminster, appointed by the Pope, who is the head of a body of clergy spread all over the world, so pre-eminently worthy of belief, that whatever they affirm must be true, though conscience and reason and history conspire to deny it. No man cometh to the Son (or indeed to the Father either, adds Dr. Newman), but by us. Our word is the only legitimate reason for believing that there ever was such a person as Jesus Christ, or even that there is a God.' This may be excellent Ultramontanism, but it is wonderful Christianity. Yet if this be not Dr. Manning's meaning, the phrase which we have quoted is a mere bit of rhetoric. It can mean nothing else than that in the argument between infidels and Protestants, the infidels have the victory, and inasmuch as all argument presupposes some common ground between the two parties, this is an admission that in the argument between infidels and Roman Catholics, the infidels must succeed, unless, indeed, the Catholic can show any evidence other than his own word and that of the rest of the Romish clergy, which he can address to Strauss or Renan, and which a Protestant cannot. Hence the plain result of the whole is that Dr. Manning admits that a belief in Christianity is unreasonable and opposed to evidence.
He appears to be dimly sensible of this, for in another part of his essay he tells us that faith must come first and reason afterwards. 'It is not science which generates faith, but faith which generates science by the aid of the reason illuminated by revelation.' This is his account of the meaning of several passages which he quotes from Augustine. This is all very well, but if we are to begin by a petitio principii, how must we ascertain which principium is to be begged? Such a doctrine gives no advantage to any one religious teacher over any other. Every one is as much entitled to the benefit of the maxim Nisi credideritis non intelligetis, as St. Augustine himself, who, says Dr. Manning, transfixes the pretensions of the Manichaeans with this 'principle.' Why the Manichaeans did not in their turn 'transfix' him with the same principle does not appear. It is always in the power of every one to say to those who differ from him, 'Place yourself at my point of view; accept my principles, regulate your life for many years by my maxims, and then—intelligetis, you will get to see how very true, how inexpressibly glorious, consolatory, and admirable they are. Inasmuch as this is, or may be said by many teachers, there must either be some way of determining between them, or else the choice of a religious belief is mere matter of chance.
This kind of pretension is, however, so frequent as to call for one farther remark. If it be true, as we are constantly told, that the full glory of the Church is only to be seen from within, yet still we might surely expect that those who are within and have this wonderful vision before their eyes would be able to explain, or at least to describe it, to those who are without. They might surely be expected to say what it is that they see, and how toy came to see it. In fact they do nothing of the kind. They talk sad write about their religious belief, but they not only show no Acuities differing from those of other men, but they come to no conclusions, and advance no reasons which it is not easy to understand. In the present volume, for instance, there is very little with which we should be inclined to agree, but we can always see what the writers mean, and in many instances we (M trace the influences by which they appear to have been misled. If they were possessed, by virtue of their creed, of any special faculties; if they were in the position of seeing men addressing the blind, surely they would have some means of making the rest of the world feel the difference. A man with eyes could soon convince a blind man by the most simple means that he had a sense which enabled him to describe objects at a distance, and if gave Dr. Manning and his associates a corresponding advantage over the Protestant world, they would be able to prove it by similar means. When we couple their arguments with their pretensions, it as if the only difference between them and their neighbours is that they have a special faculty which enables them to be convinced by fallacies. As a fact they do reason, they do give evidence, such as it is; and when refuted they reply with a pitying smile that the carnal man cannot understand spiritual things, that you must believe first and understand afterwards. Such faith, as far as we can make the matter out, is a supernatural gift which does not enable men to do without argument at all, but enables them to put up with bad arguments when they cannot get good ones.
In plain words, the whole rests on one gigantic begging of the question. Submit to us, do not reason at all, do and think as we tell you, and you shall be rewarded by being supplied with materials on which your intellect may be employed, and by which it may be diverted from considering the fundamental question whether our claims are true or false. If you will only take our principles for granted you shall use your understandings as keenly as you please in their application. You can, if you like, pass a lifetime in debating points of scholastic theology, or questions of casuistry, or any kind of lay science that strikes your fancy, if you only bear in mind that the fundamental principle of the whole is submission to us, that our word is to be taken for the truth of all that relates to the greatest of all questions, and that our authority is to be the highest of all criterions of truth in all its parts, so that if any science whatever should contradict what wo assert that science must give way. 'If the facts of geology are contrary to the Catholic religion, let geology look to its facts.' The history of human knowledge in all its departments, for the last three centuries at least, is one protest against this way of thinking. The whole difference between the empty speculations of the schoolmen and the fruitful speculations of modern science lies in the fact that the schoolmen rested on a vast petitio principii, and that modern science does not, but appeals to argument and evidence.
This part of the argument may be shortly summed up. If it is desirable to believe in something called orthodox Christianity, whether it is true or false; if it is desirable to subdue the imagination by a show of authority, and to delude the reason by a show of liberty; in short, if what is required is an elaborate sham, then the Church of Rome has a logical advantage over Protestant bodies. If, on the other hand, Christianity deserves belief only if and in so far as it is true, and if reason is the organ by which truth is apprehended and proved, the advantage is the other way.
Let its now turn to the historical point of view. The volume before us is perhaps even more remarkable for its boasts as to the position and prospects of Romanism regarded as a fact than for the confidence which it shows in its validity as a theory. The view which the authors take upon the whole subject appears to us to be false in detail, and if possible to be still more false in its general principle. We will first deal with the details.
There was a time when Roman Catholics had the grace to write as if they thought that the persecutions of old times required at least an excuse. [See, for instance, the tone in which Dr. Lingard writes of Mary's persecutions. History of England, vol. vii. chap. iii. Edinburgh, 1838.] That was when there was some reason to hope that if treated with justice Roman Catholics would be reasonable citizens. It now appears that they regard this concession to the spirit of the times as a weakness. Their line seems to be that as a fact they did not persecute, but that they might have done so justifiably if they had thought proper. Dr. Manning and Mr. Lucas each urge the first point, and Mr. Lucas enforces the second. Dr. Manning says, 'After three hundred years of penal laws, to which the fabulous cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition are merciful, the Church in England is once more free.' Mr. Lucas argues that the Church by divine right has the power of life and death; he does not say over whom, but we presume over all the world; and after laying this down he goes on thus,—'It is desirable on this point just to quote the memorable saying of Balmez, where, in repelling an old and 'well-known calumny, he says that although armed with a tribunal of intolerance, the popes have not shed a drop of blood. They had the power and the opportunity, which does not always accompany jurisdiction, but they did not employ it, or rather they used it to save, not to destroy, life, to reprieve not to condemn.' Elsewhere Mr. Lucas speaks of the persecution now exercised against the Church of Rome. He says, 'In Sweden there prevails a rigour in order to the exclusion of the faith more tremendous than the Inquisition.' He says that in France and Italy ' religion is systematically persecuted.' Nay, he says, 'In Spain,. . . notwithstanding the persecution which religion has suffered there,' &c.
Insolent falsehood would be hardly too strong a phrase to apply to such assertions if we did not know by experience how thick is the veil which devotion to a creed spreads over the eyes of its victims. It is charitable to believe, and we do believe, that Dr. Manning and Mr. Lucas consider their creed so sacred, and its priests and institutions so holy, that to them it seems that any coercion applied against Rome and its agents is to coercion applied to others as blasphemy to a hasty word. To them the extermination of the Albigenses was at most but an excess of zeal; whilst the suppression of a Spanish monastery is an act of horrible impiety. The one they view as perhaps too stern an execution of criminal justice, the other as an act of sacrilegious robbery. This consideration alone can explain and to some extent excuse their words. On any other view such assertions as that of Dr. Manning about 'the fabulous cruelties of the Inquisition,' are like denial that there is a sun in heaven. Let us confront him with one or two extracts from the commonest of con mon books. In Motley's History of the Dutch Republic, chapter iii., there is a full account of the whole constitution and working of the Inquisition in the Netherlands. Though there was some sort of technical difference between this and the Spanish institution, they were substantially the same; but of the Spanish Inquisition proper, Mr. Motley makes the following statement:—'It was established by Pope Alexander VI. and Ferdinand the Catholic . . . . In the eighteen years of Torquemada's administration, ten thousand two hundred and twenty individuals were burnt alive, and ninety-seven thousand three hundred and twenty-one punished with infamy, confiscation of property, and perpetual imprisonment.' As to the Inquisition in the Netherlands, may details as to its constitution, its powers, and its cruelties, are to be seen in Mr. Motley's book; but we will make only one extract (vol. i., p.158). 'Upon the 15th of February, 1568, a sentence of the Holy Office condemned all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics. From this universal doom only a few persons specially named were excepted. A proclamation of the Sing, dated ten days later, confirmed ibis decree of the Inquisition, and ordered it to be carried into instant execution, without regard to age, sex, or condition. This is probably the most concise death-warrant ever passed. Three millions of people, men, women, and children, were sentenced to the scaffold in threelines.’ To some extent, of course, this decree was meant in terrorem, but it was more than a mere threat. ‘Under this new decree executions certainly did not slacken. Men in the highest and humblest positions were daily and hourly dragged to the stake. Alva, in a single letter to Philip, coolly estimated the number of executions which were to take place immediately after the expiration of holy week at eight heads.' The Reign of was mild and humane in to this, and to compare the English penal laws to such atrocities is simply a puerile insult to the understanding of every creature. If Dr. Manning can deny these facts he ought to lose no time in doing so. They stand on rather different evidence from that which appeared to him and his friends enough to prove legends and miracles. What can one say of the condition of the mind of a man who regards Ursula as historical, and Alva and Philip as fabulous? It is hard to determine whether such mental and moral obliquity is more or less discreditable than the ignorance or forgetfulness which would furnish the only other possible explanations of the astonishing sentence which we have quoted.
As to Mr. Lucas, a man who dares to pretend that the Popes had no complicity in these acts, when they were all done in their interest, and by and with the advice and consent of their immediate agents, is beneath argument. The Pope was to the Emperor an accessory before, at, and after the fact. Mr. Lucas quotes Sir James Stephen, in reference to the Albigensian crusade, in a way which gives a not very fair idea of that author's opinion on the subject; but let that pass. What will he say to the following quotation, from the same authority? 'In the year 1207, Innocent III. had sent into Languedoc Peter of Castelnau as his apostolic legate. Twice had Castelnau required Raymond to exterminate his heretical subjects with sword and fire; and twice, when dissatisfied with his zeal in that atrocious office, had he excommunicated him, and laid his dominions under an interdict.' Innocent subsequently preached a crusade against the Albigenses, of which Dr. Milman observes:—'Never in the history of man were the great eternal principles of justice, the faith of treaties, common humanity so trampled under foot as in the Albigensian war. . . . And throughout the war it cannot be disguised that it was not merely the army of the Church, but the Church itself in arms. Papal legates and the greatest prelates headed the host, and mingled with the horrors of the battle and the siege. In no instance did they interfere to arrest the massacre; in some cases they urged it on. "Slay all, God will know his own," was the boasted saying of Abbot Arnold, legate of the Pope before Beziers. Arnold was the captain-general of the Pope.' This is enough to show the value of the apology of Balmez. But let us add one stale and well-known illustration for Mr. Lucas's edification. It is tiresome, no doubt, to refer to such a well-known incident; but if the late Mr. William Palmer should ever be held up as a model of humanity, it would be necessary shortly to refer to the fact that he certainly murdered his friend, and that he almost certainly murdered his wife and his brother. The following passage will be found in Martin's history of France, vol. x., p. 397, in reference to the way in which the news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew was received in Italy:—
'Le cardinal de Lorraine donna mille écus d'or au courrier qui lui apporta les dépêches, et écrivit de Rome à Charles IX. une lettre où 1'ivresse déborde. Il le remercie de lui avoir confirmé les nouvelles des tres chrétiennes et héroiques délibérations et exécutions faites non-seulement a Paris, mais par toutes les principales villes de France. Sire," s'écrie-t-il, "c'est tout le mieux que j'eusse osé jamais desirer ni espérer." Le canon tira au chateau Saint-Ange; des feux de joie furent allumés dans toutes les rues de Rome; le pape Grégoire XIII., le sacré college, les ambassadeurs des souverains catholiques allèrent processionnellement remercier Dieu aux églises de Saint Marc et de la Minerve, puis a 1'eglise francaise de Saint-Louis, où le cardinal de Lorraine célébra la messe d'actions de grâces, comme en réponse au jeune expiatoire ordonné à Genève. Un jubilé extraordinaire fut public a Rome pour célébrer la double victoire remportée par 1'Eglise sur les Turcs et sur les hérétiques a Lepante et a Paris. . . . Une medaille fut frappée qui portait d'un cote le buste de Gregoire XIII., de 1'autre 1'ange exterminateur immolant les Huguenots, avec 1'exergue Hugonutorum Strages. Le pape fit peindre et exposer au Vatican, en lieu très apparent et honorable, un tableau représentant le massacre des hérétiques; ce tableau s'y voit encore.'So much for the matter of fact as to the fabulous cruelties of the Inquisition and the aversion of the popes to bloodshed. Let us now turn to Dr. Manning's assertions about the penal laws. There can be no doubt of the fact that they did exist, and that they were cruel and unjustifiable. Nor can there be any doubt that in some instances, particularly in Ireland, great cruelties were sometimes committed by way of military execution, which had some, though by no means a close connexion, with the difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics. We will not strike the balance between the crimes of the two religions, though it would not be hard to show which way the balance inclines.
Be this, however, as it may, one point is quite clear. We admit our fault, be its degree greater or less, and admit the duty of repairing it as well as we can. The writers in this volume not merely deny facts as well established as any in history, but justify what they deny. 'We did not, as it happens, do it; but we had and have a right to do it if we think proper.'
Even if this were true, our repentance would still, one would think, require some sort of acknowledgment. Roman Catholics are never tired of denouncing the wickedness, the godlessness, and the pride of Englishmen and Protestants. M. Michelet declares that we are the proudest people in the world, and that the Satan of Paradise Lost is only an ideal Englishman. Be it so; but let it not be forgotten that this proud, haughty, wicked nation, which neither fears God nor regards man is the one country in all the world which habitually confesses, laments and tries to repair the effect of it sins. The bitterest enemies of England can say nothing worse of it than we are accustomed to hear in Parliament and in the press, and no only to hear, but to receive and to act upon when it is shown to be true. The Irish and the Roman Catholics were long oppressed. The negro slaves were long held in bondage. What set them free? The wicked, godless, inhuman Protestant conscience, enlightened by that devilish Protestant invention called free discussion. What has been our reward? As far as the negroes are concerned, we have received, at least, gratitude; but as far as the Roman Catholics are concerned, we have have reaped no harvest but contempt and insult. The moment they are treated as equals they assert their claim to supremacy. 'The State,' says Mr. Lucas, 'has nothing whatever to give or to withhold which is of any value to the spiritual power.' If statesmen choose to obey, the Church will assign them their duties. If not, they are to be treated with insolent contempt, 'boldly to face the power of modern society, and to refuse any solidarity whatever with it, is the way to give courage to our brethren. In all countries political maxims, public law, and civil liberties, may and must be used, in order to gain recognition of the rights of organized Christianity, or to extort them when needful.' If Protestants mistake their position, the fault is their own. Writers like Mr. Lucas show that the ultramontane spirit is as antinational, as insolent, and as fierce as it ever was in the whole course of history. If, however, he thinks it will now meet with better success than it has had before, he is under a fatal mistake. He and others like him are tolerated in the present day not because the public at large have relented towards their creed, but because they believe toleration to be just and wise in itself. Justice they have; but they will never get more; and Protestants will always have it in their power to say that when their enemies hungered they fed them, that when they thirsted they gave them drink, and that they threw the broad shield of English law over the lives, the liberties, and the opinions of the very men who boast that they want only the power and not the will to set the Pope above the Queen and to persecute and proscribe their protectors. As Mr. Oakley says on a different occasion, ' Certainly it is an abject position for the Queen of the Nations and the Bride of the Lamb.'
It would be wrong, indeed, to defend persecution of any kind; but in reading Mr. Lucas's essay we are enabled to attach a very different degree of significance from that which once attached to it, to the distinction between punishing men for their belief and forbidding the exercise of a religion hostile to the civil government. Such sentiments as those which are to be found in Mr. Lucas's essay are a harmless bravado in our days and in our times; but in the days of Queen Elizabeth it was a very different matter. Men could not then afford as we can now to despise talk about the 'Supreme Protector,' and about its right to call upon subjects for support as against the 'rebellious State.' The notion that the Pope has the power of life and death by Divine right would then have had a practical significance; and, considering what the history of Europe had shown as to the practical application of such doctrines, we cannot say that it would have been wrong to treat a theoretical justification of treason as a crime bearing some analogy to the acts which it tended to provoke and justify.
One more observation is required before we leave this part of the subject. Dr. Manning and Mr. Lucas argue ad homines. It is one of their favourite modes of argument. Mr. Oakley expressly recommends it as a kind of argument which enables the good Catholic to conceal his own principles, whilst he bewilders his adversaries. It is part of that system of 'attack and exposure, of taunt and of ridicule,' which Mr. Lucas considers the appropriate weapons of organized Christianity. They have a right to use it. To those who admit their fallibility, who own that they are weak, inconsistent, liable to mistake, and reduced to finding their way to the truth painfully and by degrees, taunts and ridicule may often be a sharp and bracing medicine. They have, however, a right to say to those who use them, Let us clearly understand why we are taunted, and what we ought to do? Is it for not giving full effect to a wicked principle, the principle of toleration, or is it for rejecting the good principle of persecution under the orders of the Pope? If for the first your taunts are strange from you. You wish us to be consistent in our wickedness. Surely a feeble and inconsistent attempt to do right is less bad than a thorough determination to do wrong. The penal laws were well meant, though they were, we humbly own, imperfect copies of the Inquisition; still they did keep up the principle of persecution, which you affirm to be the true one. They were the produce of, to adopt Mr. Oakley's beautiful language, 'what is called bigotry,' and bigotry, though blind, is a step in the right direction. It may not be Jerusalem, but Samaria is better than Babylon. If you really cared for our souls, you ought to try to keep us as little out of the true line as possible. You should say, Rather than not persecute at all, persecute us. Perhaps the delights of the practice may bring about a reconciliation in time, and after you have burnt a few of us we may all unite to burn the Liberals. 'Our theology,' to use Mr. Oakley's beautiful words once more, 'gives a preference to those who are faithfully acting upon the dictates of an erroneous conscience, over those who renounce in practice the conclusions of their better knowledge. . . . One of the misfortunes of our position is the temptation it creates to think better of liberal Protestants than of what are called "bigots." . . . We may do well to rest occasionally in a consideration which invests even our bitterest opponents with a softening and attractive light.' Such a light as would be diffused on some fine summer evening over Hyde Park, by the expiring embers of the pile on which a Roman Catholic archbishop had just been offered up as a holy pledge of a return to the principle of persecution. Surely it is a question rather of measures than of men. Let us begin by acting on the belief that some one is to be burnt, and carnal reason will in time fix upon the right man. 'Nisi credideritis non intelligetis.' The mere inconvenience of being sacrificed to a true principle could never surely act on such a mind as that of Mr. Lucas. It could do his cause no harm to burn him. As ho observes himself, 'It is more than doubtful whether the Society has ever lost anything worth saving by any persecution.'
If, however, we are taunted, not because we are not consistent in vice, but because we are deaf to virtue; if our fault is that we will not allow the Pope to dispose of the physical force of the nation according to his own views, then we have a right to ask Mr. Lucas and his friends this question: How do you separate yourselves from Innocent III., and Philip II., and Charles IX., and Gregory XIII.? Were the Albigensian crusade, and the inquisition in the Netherlands, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew right, or are the English people right in thinking them crimes so awful and horrible, that we would rather forfeit all that we hold most dear in the world than have with them any complicity whatever? If Mr. Lucas avows his belief that such acts were right in principle, and that if wrong at all, they were wrong only in detail, by reason of unnecessary severity (and it would be hard indeed to show that less severity would have attained the required object), there is a greater moral gulf between him and his countrymen, than if he avowed a belief in all the most odious of the doctrines which their worst enemies ever imputed to the Jesuits. The doctrines that the end justifies the means, and that faith is not to be kept with heretics, are not nearly so wicked, according to our standard of right and, wrong as the doctrine that the profession of religious opinions differing from those of the Church of Rome is an evil which justifies the extermination (if necessary) of those who hold them. As Mr. Lucas refers with approval to De Maistre's proposition that 'it is almost too trivial a truth to repeat, that to allow Protestantism to enter a Catholic country is a misfortune,' we should like to know where he draws the line. If he draws it so as to let in the Inquisition and Alva, his taunts will fall flat indeed. If he cannot draw it at all there will be little fear of his ridicule.
In the meantime, the very worst that he can say of us is, You have acted inconsistently with your principles, and have had to change your line. We can say to him and his Church, You have acted only too consistently on yours. The Roman Catholic power in Spain, in France, in Belgium, in Bavaria, in Bohemia, is founded on crime. Your Church was planted in human blood, and was watered with it. If it had not been for overwhelming physical force, ruthlessly applied, many of these countries would at this day have been entirely Protestant, and all would have contained a large Protestant population. As matters stand now, you dare not permit free discussion. In no one of the Roman Catholic countries do Protestants enjoy the same rights as Roman Catholics enjoy in England and America; and you, Mr. Lucas, avow that you consider this right, and that you would wish the same state of things to be extended over the whole world.
In truth, however, let Sir. Lucas say what he will under the protection of the principles which he denounces, his Church is not consistent. The Pope ought to persecute. All the old arguments are as good as ever, but people do not really believe them, not even Roman Catholic governments. Just enough importance is attached to them to render possible a sort of bastard police persecution, a petty, meddlesome system of regulations and prohibitions, which bears the same sort of relation to the Inquisition and the Albigensian Crusade, as the lean and slippered pantaloon bears to the soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard. There is just enough strength left in the system to enable the Pope, with an infinite deal of trouble and scandal, to kidnap a little Jew. If he ventured to burn or hang half-a-dozen of the worst kind of heretics, his power, temporal and spiritual, would not be worth a day's purchase. This is a great change, not only since Innocent III., but since the time when the books of the philosophers of the eighteenth century were forbidden in France, and burnt by the Parliament of Paris.
The consideration of this change leads us to consider, in conclusion, the wider relations of the historical theories to be found in the present volume. Here and there we have express statements on the subject, and there is, besides, a more general view underlying the whole volume, which requires separate attention. The following is Mr. Lucas's view of the general course of modern history:—
'Our divine society having conquered the old, and having raised up out of conflicting elements a new human society leavened by the divine power, and as nearly perfect as any society that is ever likely to exist, may naturally conceive that apart from its divine nature it has claims to superiority over all new comers and experimentalists; claims founded upon social benefits conferred on mankind. At any rate it was in undisputed possession when, some century ago or less, certain perverse men arose, who proposed to more than undo the work of seven hundred years. They determined not only to overthrow the society, but with it all religion whatever, to banish God out of his own world, and to create such a society as has never existed since the Deluge, if ever it did before.'This is a hard saying. Is it really suggested that 'certain perverse men' dropped out of the clouds and took up the scheme imputed to them out of pure wanton wickedness? Can any reasonable man fail to see that the French Revolution and the other great changes of a similar character, which occurred in various parts of Europe at about the same time or shortly afterwards, were the result of deep-seated, wide-spread causes which had been slowly ripening for ages? Is it not self-evident that if 'our divine society' had really done what Mr. Lucas says it had done; if the Europe of the eighteenth century had been as nearly perfect as any society ever likely to exist, the French Devolution, the Spanish Revolution, the Italian Revolution, and the various changes which extended all over Europe during the end of the last and the first half of the present century would have been impossible. The Church in a great part of Europe had its will. It operated, as he says it ought to operate,' through generals and magistrates.' It ruled in supreme power and with unquestioned authority; and what was the result? The indignation of mankind at last burst out in a flame of wild savage passion against its lies, its shams, its tyranny, its childishness, its love of ignorance, its hatred of light; wrested out of its hands the temporal power, and so weakened ite grasp of spiritual power that it never has recovered the shock, and never will. The excesses to which this great outbreak gave birth, no doubt produced a great reaction; but the reaction was far indeed from regaining the ground which the Revolution had won from it.
In order to form a full estimate of Mr. Lucas's argument, let us concede his monstrous statement of the facts. Grant that' certain perverse men' did all this. Why did 'our holy society' let them do it? Why had it brought the poor throughout Europe to such a state of ignorance and misery, that as soon as they got the chance they trampled the holy society in the dust? If this was the result of many centuries of supremacy, what sort of body must that have been which, with so much power at its command, could produce no greater effects?
Apart, however, from specific passages, there is a vein of exultation running through nearly every essay in the volume, which appears to us to be singularly ill-founded. Nearly all of these writers apparently anticipate vast triumphs for their Church; and Dr. Manning, in particular, triumphs at great length over Protestantism, and declares that' the hearts of men will turn to' the Roman Catholic Church 'sicut torrens in austro, in proportion as it regains the intelligence of the English people.' His arguments on the subject are, for the most part, an exaggeration of one of the least philosophical and most paradoxical of Lord Macaulay's Essays. Of Lord Macaulay's argument we will say a few words, but Dr. Manning cannot even quote correctly. He reads and thinks under such a weight of prejudice that he utterly misstates Lord Macaulay's argument in a passage which we now proceed to analyze. He sums up Lord Macaulay's review of Ranke's History of the Popes, and attributes to him six separate statements, of which hardly one was really made by Lord Macaulay. He says that Lord Macaulay pointed out:—
1. That 'in every instance, Protestantism was established by the civil power.' Any one would infer that Lord Macaulay asserted that in every instance Protestantism was forced upon the people by the Government. Not only did Lord Macaulay not say anything so monstrously false and absurd; but he did say the very reverse. He speaks of Luther as the 'chief author' of the 'Revolution.' He says, 'All ranks, all varieties of character, joined the ranks of the innovators,' and he describes at length the reasons why they did so. He says, 'About half a century after the great separation, there were throughout the north Protestant governments and Protestant nations. In the south were governments and nations actuated by the most intense zeal for the ancient Church.' Of course, in all nations the governments took a side; but it is neither true, in fact, nor is there one word in Lord Macaulay's essay to assert that Protestantism in any country was the work of the civil power, and not that of the nation at large.
2. That 'when the civil power ceased to propagate it, Protestantism ceased to spread.' Lord Macaulay said nothing of the sort. He says that there was a struggle for two generations 'between Protestantism possessed of the north of Europe, and Catholicism possessed of the south, for the doubtful territory which lay between. All the weapons of carnal and of spiritual warfare were employed.' He says that the victory lay with the Catholics, and describes the reason, which he finds in the superior zeal and organization of the Catholics, in the establishment of the order of Jesuits, and in the lukewarmness and worldliness of the Protestant princes, who were unable to protect the populations which had embraced Protestantism, as, for instance, in Bavaria and Bohemia. This is what Dr. Manning represents as an assertion that when the civil power ceased to propagate it Protestantism ceased to spread. The true way of putting Lord Macaulay's statement is, that when the civil power was too much divided and too worldly to protect the Protestants, the civil power of the Papists and the zeal of the Jesuits half exterminated and half converted them.
3. That 'there is no example of a country becoming Protestant since the first outbreak of the sixteenth century.' This is not accurate, though it is not positively false. Lord Macaulay says that 'fifty years after the first separation . . . . the Protestants were numerous, powerful, bold, and active' in every part of Europe north of the Alps and Pyrenees. That there was then a struggle for two generations which ended in the victory of the Catholics, and that 'the geographical boundary between the two religions has continued to run almost precisely where it ran at the end of the Thirty-Years' War.' Thus Lord Macaulay does not say that there is no example of a country becoming Protestant since the first outbreak of the sixteenth century. He does say that very many countries nearly became Protestant during the latter half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century; but that the governments of those countries having adhered to the Roman See, the nations were gradually forced or persuaded into Romanism.
4. That 'there are Protestant countries which have become Catholic again.' He never says anything of the sort. He says no more than what is mentioned under assertion 3.
5. But 'no Catholic country ever has become Protestant.' That he does say or imply. The result of what he says is, that some countries were decidedly Protestant, some decidedly Catholic, that others were divided between the two, and that in these others the Catholics gained the victory in the way above stated.
6. That 'whatsoever in the confusions of the last three hundred years has been lost to Catholicism, has been lost to Christianity; but that whatsoever has been gamed to Christianity has been gained to Catholicism.' This goes beyond misunderstanding, and, affords a distinct case of misquotation. Dr. Manning's words are so like Lord Macaulay's, that they must have been taken from him; but there is a small but important difference. Lord Macaulay says, 'During the former period' (not as Dr. Manning says, the last three hundred years, but the latter part of the eighteenth century)' whatever was lost to Catholicism was lost to Christianity, during the latter' (i.e., the first forty years of the nineteenth century); 'whatever was regained by Christianity m Catholic countries' (why does Dr. Manning twice alter regained into gained, and omit the last three words ?) 'was regained also by Catholicism.' Lord Macaulay says that such of the Catholics as became infidels and were reconverted to Christianity became Catholics and not Protestants. Dr. Manning turns this into an admission that' whatsoever has been gained to Christianity for three hundred years has been gained to Catholicism.' He thus makes Lord Macaulay deny that the Protestants ever converted heathens. This is plain matter of fact, and no controversial blindness can excuse direct garbling and positive misquotation.
We will say in conclusion a few words on the anticipations in which Roman Catholics indulge so freely, and to which in his essay on Ranke Lord Macaulay did certainly lend some countenance. Of all his essays not one is less satisfactory, for there is not one in which he shows less power of entering into the real essence of the question with which he deals. The whole essay treats the great religious movements of the human mind from the narrowest possible point of view. Nay, it is founded on a conception of the grounds on which religion itself rests, which is altogether unworthy of so able a writer. 'As regards natural religion,' he says, 'it is not easy to see that a philosopher of the present day is more favourably situated than Thales or Simonides. . . . Natural religion then is not a progressive science. . . . But neither is revealed religion of the nature of a progressive science. All Divine truth is, according to the doctrine of the Protestant Churches, recorded in certain books. It is equally open to all who in any age can read those books; nor can all the discoveries of all the philosophers in the world add a single verse to any of those books.' When we think that only twenty-five years have passed since these lines were written, and that by a great man, we have a measure of the rate at which the world is moving. As to natural religion in the days of Thales, we may remember that, long after his time, Anaxagoras was considered impious because he doubted whether the sun was an actual live God driving about in the sky; and we know that Lucretius held that the utter absence of any sort of plan in nature showed that it could not be the work of a God. Indeed the general conception of the perfect unity of nature, and of its invariable and marvellous regularity, is so modern that we doubt whether Lord Macaulay himself fully grasped it. Whatever its bearing may be on the greatest of all theological questions, it unquestionably does bear upon it with a force utterly unimaginable by Thales and Simonides. To say that now that we do know something considerable of the nature and plan of the wonderful world which God has made, and of the nature of man whom he 'made in his own image,' we are as much in the dark as Thales, is very like saying that natural theology is worthless. To whatever extent our knowledge of God is based upon reason and derived from an acquaintance with the character of God's works, to that same extent does an increased knowledge of the works of God—material and moral— contribute to our knowledge of God himself. Bossuet's Discours sur l’Histoire Universelle is an admirable illustration of the narrow conception of the ways of God to man, which was naturally formed even by a man of great genius in the infancy of physical and historical knowledge.
The remark as to revealed religion is even more hasty and shallow. To say that all Protestant Churches teach that 'all Divine truth is recorded in certain hooks,' is false in fact. The Church of England teaches no such thing—witness the cases of the Essays and Reviews. The criticism, if it were true, would imply that all Protestant Churches teach arrant nonsense. The existence of God is of all truths the mast divine; but that must be assumed or proved before we can call the Bible divine. Besides, the Bible assumes a vast deal of antecedent knowledge on the part of those who read it Moral, historical, and physical knowledge of every kind is assumed, and thus not only the interpretation of the Bible itself, but the importance and significance of the incidents which it records are very differently understood in 'different ages of the world. A belief in God is the foundation, the first truth, in all religion. This belief alone can render any alleged divine revelation credible. Though a belief in God is very ancient, our conception of the divine attributes is progressive. It changes from age to age according to our knowledge of the world in which we live, and of the conditions of human life itself. Science is, to use the trite phrase, a revelation — nay, such a phrase is orthodox, for Cardinal Wiseman himself says that 'the spirit of scientific investigation, is 'a new spirit poured out upon the world.' The conception thus formed throws light in its turn on any revelation or alleged revelation. We get the means of criticizing the channel through which it has come. If we view a book as the vehicle of revelation, we get to see that allowance must be made for the characters and circumstances of the authors and of their times. If we view an institution as the vehicle, then we get to see that the institution is at all events partly human; that it is composed of human beings who, as a rule, are full of defects, infirmities, fierce passions, and violent ambitions, all of which have influenced their teaching and their conduct. The proof that there is a human element in the Papacy, and an extremely bad one too, is ten thousand times stronger than the proof that there is such an element in the Bible; and the difficulty of drawing the line between what is unquestionably human and what may possibly be Divine is far greater in the case of the Pope than in the case of the Bible, especially when we consider that the infallible Church has never determined infallibly where its infallibility resides.
Thus, both natural and revealed religion are and must be progressive. The spirit of which Dr. Wiseman speaks so piously insensibly modifies dogmatic creeds, teaches us to see through what strange channels and under what unfavourable conditions we have received them, and leads us first to tolerate and then to neglect distinctions, which in former times seemed of vital importance. Seeing thus the weak side of dogmatism, and the especially weak side of ecclesiastical organizations, we get to value them not for the sake of the supernatural prerogatives which they claim, but for the substantial good, be the same more or less, which they really and in fact accomplish; and, by slow degrees, a lay morality, a lay science, a lay view of human life and human nature grows np, and without quarrelling with the old clerical view and the various forms into which it has fallen, quietly moulds it to its own purposes.
To assert that this process will be inconsistent with established formulas and creeds is to say nothing. Creeds and formulas are good only in so far as they are true, and the Church of England, which in direct terms has imputed error in matters of faith to the Churches of Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, cannot refuse to deny the possibility that it may itself have been mistaken, and may have attached to particular doctrines or formularies a degree of importance to which they were not really entitled. To assert that it will lead men to disbelieve the divinity and the miracles of Christ is to assert that Christ was not really divine, and that the accounts of his miracles are not true; for if we are to believe that they are true, and that he was God incarnate, there must be some ground on which these things are and ought to be believed, and full examination will bring that ground to light and show its solidity. How, if this were not so, could any one try to convert a heathen? He must be converted by some process of argument, and it cannot surely be said that he ought to be converted by arguments which are unsound.
While such is the position of Protestant bodies the Roman Catholic body is in a very different position. They cannot accept the idea of progress either in natural or in revealed religion. They are obliged to denounce it, and they do accordingly denounce it in all directions and on all occasions as a horrible and damnable doctrine aimed at the very heart of Christianity; for they are committed not merely to the proposition that Christianity is divine, but to the farther proposition that their own version of it is itself of divine authority. The consequence is that, as we have seen in the case of Dr. Manning and Dr. Wiseman, they are thrown into a position with regard to scientific researches which is at once humiliating, ludicrous, and painful in the extreme. They dare not denounce the method by which science proceeds, for this would be to renounce their last rag of influence in the world. They cannot admit that science is right and that they are wrong, for this would concede the whole point of their infallibility. They are obliged, therefore, to resort to the expedient of denouncing every scientific conclusion which they dislike as being rash and false on scientific grounds, a position which is, if anything, even more hopeless than the position that truth is not the object of reason at all. By science we mean not any one science in particular, but the systematic operations of reason in general, whether applied to physics, to history, to morals, or to any other subject. On all these points reason and dogma every day come into more and more direct pointed opposition. Reason will not give way; dogma in the hands of Roman Catholics cannot. The result is inevitable. A religion which cannot even pretend to be true will slowly lose its influence over one set of minds, over another, until at last it gradually sinks into the position of an unreasoning superstition, like ancient paganism tyrannizing over the weak, and rejected by the strong. But, say the Roman Catholics, fine as all this may sound in theory, in point of fact here we are. We are flourishing, not sinking; and what do you say to that? The answer is perfectly easy. No doubt the Roman Catholic Church here and there gains ground. No doubt there is a class of weak-minded people who really are deluded by the pretence of consistency, and by the other delusive arguments which we have been trying to expose, and which Romanists ply so industriously. Timid men and women no doubt are alarmed by the progress of science, are afraid that it may crush religion, and under the influence of that ignoble and most contemptible terror, try to hide their heads in the sand- but if we look at the great facts there is no room for exultation on the one side or fear on the other. Once more, and for the last time, let us refer to Dr. Manning. He observes, 'In these last centuries 1 first politics and now science have fallen away from the faith. .This is the paradisaical state, according to some; to others it is the dissolution of the Christian society of the world, carried out to its last consequence.' He says in another place, ‘The inevitable divorce of the ecclesiastical and civil powers which is everywhere accomplishing, and the separation of the nations as such from the unity of the faith which hangs with it, the desecration of the corporate life and action of society —that is of the civil power—is a new and portentous fact of an unprecedented character.' Mr. Lucas also says that 'nearly every state is infidel.'
What are we to say to admissions like these? Have they no significance? Are they not some sort of set-off against the fact that a certain number of English ladies and ladylike men have sighed and shuddered themselves into Popery? What has become of France? what of Italy? what of the monasteries in Spain? What is the course of events even in Mexico and New Granada? Look at the Encyclical and the comments on it for the answer. The three great objects of human thought are science, politics, and religion. 'Politics and science have fallen away from the faith.' Is this nothing to religion? There is an 'inevitable separation now everywhere accomplishing between the' ecclesiastical and the civil power.' True; and when we turn to Mr. Lucas we find it proved that to the true, real, thorough-going Catholic such a separation involves 'a denial of the dearest rights of the Church. Mr. Lucas rightly teaches us that to separate the civil from the ecclesiastical power is to deny the principles on which the ecclesiastical power is founded. Dr. Manning rightly teaches us that the separation is 'inevitable and is everywhere accomplishing.' What is the inference? That the laity of Europe and America universally repudiate the principles on which the ecclesiastical power is founded, and act in direct opposition to them.
And can any human creature doubt the fact? Does any one suppose that if the French really believed the Pope to be by divine right the king of the whole world they would act as they do? or that if the people of Italy had been of that opinion they would ever have set up the Italian kingdom? The truth is that under civil pretexts the Pope and his clergy are being elbowed out of one department of life after another. The commonest way of effecting this is by means of the celebrated though fundamentally erroneous distinction between the temporal and the spiritual power. This, that, and the other; marriage, education, the enjoyment of corporate property are claimed as belonging to the temporal and not to the spiritual domain; and legislation proceeds on that principle. If the legislators really believed their own professed creed, they would as soon interfere with the celebration of mass as with the ecclesiastical law about marriage. They do not really believe in it. They have only a decent external respect for it, due to early associations; and the more Mr. Lucas proves the principles on which he insists, the more he proves that the world is leaving him and his creed on one side, to take its chance as a superstition impervious to reason, because it has renounced it altogether.
As for Lord Macaulay's arguments they leave entirely out of account this general movement of the human mind. They look only at the formal official position which the Church of Rome occupies, but surely they are radically unsound. No one doubts that there was once great power in the Papal organization; no one denies that even now it shows greater vitality than might have been expected of it; but what have been its feats after all for the last three hundred years? By the help of the most unsparing use of physical force, it just contrived to gain a victory in central Europe. But did it conquer the mind, or merely benumb it? Did it cast human reason in its own mould, or merely reduce it to silence? Has it since then been able to lead mankind as it once did? Has it maintained the empire which it once possessed over every form of thought? The very opposite is notoriously true. First it lost the great thinkers and writers who were once its boast; and the great books, the great works of art, the great schemes of men ceased to be Catholic. By degrees it lost its hold on practical life; governments were established and laws were made on lay principles; all over Europe politics and science fell away from the faith. By degrees it is ceasing to be the great religious instructor of the world. Men are coming to believe in a different conception of God from that which the Church proposed to them. They are coming to think of God Almighty not as a capricious being, caring exclusively for one order of thoughts and feelings, and represented exclusively by one order of men, but as the God of the whole world, the God of order and system, of law, of government, of art and of science, whose character and attributes are to be read always and everywhere by all mankind who know how to look for them, and are not the special property of any priesthood, however ancient, or locked up in any theological system however venerable. It is mere childish fatalism to look on; the Romish power as everlasting, and to talk of the dangers that it has survived as proof of its immortality. Each blow has been followed by something of a rebound, but each blow has left the Papacy weaker than it found it. From the Albigensian crusade to the Council of Constance, from the Council of Constance to the Reformation, from the Reformation to the French Revolution, the Papacy steadily lost ground. It is losing ground now; and it requires no very prophetic eye to see that long before the New Zealander sketches the ruins of St. Paul's the King of Italy will be the sovereign of St. Peter's. It is of course impossible to say how long the spiritual power may maintain its existence as a mere superstition, but that sooner or later it will go the way of all impostures is as certain as that it is founded on falsehood.
Fraser’s Magazine, June and July 1865.