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We feared, however, that we might be supposed to lay too much stress on a single sentence, culled from one of Mr. Newman's various essays; and we resolved, therefore, to take up the new edition, recently issued, of his Church of the Fathers; and to learn, by a careful perusal of that volume, whether his view was clearly and precisely that which we had attributed to him. And we find our allegation more than confirmed.
Not only does Mr. Newman give the preference to the Ambrosian period, but it is the sole object of his admiring imitation. Not only does he, when he speaks of “Antiquity,” “the Fathers,” and “the Church of the Fathers,” mean chiefly the Nicene age; but he means nothing else,—nothing more ancient,—and cares for no other period, no other authority.
It is strange, indeed, that this very adroit writer should have so explicitly confessed this. The reader, taking up a book entitled “ the Church of the Fathers,” naturally expects to begin with Clement, Ireneus, Justin, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen. But here is a brief sketch of the entire body of men and things which Mr. Newman calls by this name: CHAP.
358-379 VIII. IX. Gregory
344-389 X. Vincent of Lerins
434 XI. Apollinaris...
362 XII. XIII. Augustine
387-430 XIV. Demetrias
417 XV. Jovinian
390 XVI, XVII. Canons of the Apostles
325 XVIII. XIX. Antony
270-356 XX. XXI. Martin of Tours
372-397 Now, as the passing away of the imperial power dates, in its various stages, A.D. 330—390—404–476, nothing can be clearer than the identity of the two periods. The fulfilment of the prediction is wonderfully exact :-“He who now letteth” will be "taken out of the way; and then shall that Wicked be revealed.” The waning of the Imperial power was the waxing of the Papal ; no single hour or year startled the world by any sudden change; but gradually, imperceptibly, did the sun of imperial Rome descend below the horizon, and the gloom of Papal superstition came thickening in its stead.
Nor is it merely in substance and general outline that Mr. Newman confesses that what he calls “the Church of the Fathers," is the Church which seized the sceptre as it dropped out of the hand of the Cæsars; he shrinks not from plainly stating his meaning in positive words. He begins with Ambrose, and in a
very few pages he comes to the “ lying wonder” of the bones of Gervasius and Protasius, of which we spoke in our last number. He feels, as distinctly as Mr. Taylor, that the whole controversy turns upon the question,—Was that discovery, and its results, a miracle or a fraud ? He argues :
“ If the miracle did not take place, then St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, men of name, said they had ascertained a fact which they did not ascertain, and said it in the face of enemies, with an appeal to a whole city, and that continued during a quarter of a century? What instrument of refutation shall we devise against a case like this, neither so violently à priori as to supersede the Apostles' testimony, nor so fastidious of evidence as to imperil Tacitus or Cæsar? On the other hand, if the miracle did take place, a certain measure of authority, more or less, surely must thereby attach to St. Ambrose,-to his doctrine and his life, to his ecclesiastical principles and proceedings, to the Church itself of the fourth century, of which he is one main pillar. The miracle gives a certain sanction to three things at once, to the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, to the Church's resistance of the ciril power, and to the commemoration of saints and martyrs.”—(p. 42.)
We quote this passage, chiefly for the phrase which occurs in it, -"the church of the fourth century." Yes, it is the church of the fourth century for which Mr. Newman is labouring and contending. The church of the third century, though corrupt enough, would not satisfy him; still less that of the second, when the Encratites were excommunicated for decrying marriage and extolling abstinence. But here it is that we detect the heresy. We are willing to accept at Mr. Newman's hands, and to yield obedience to, every atom of doctrine, ritual, and discipline, which he can trace upwards, from the fourth century to the third ; from the third to the second ; from the second to the first. In a word, we admit and concede to every thing that is primitive and apostolic, but we object to all additions in which any new doctrine is implied. Mr. Newman, however, loves these additions, and loves the fourth century for these additions, and loves them more than scripture or aught that is truly apostolic. Hence he turns from the first century to the fourth, as more “fully instructed.” Hence he hates what he calls “the movement of 1517,” because, in that movement, the “ wood, hay, and stubble” which Romanism had piled upon the apostolic foundation, was cast away, and the word of God was once more brought to light, and declared supreme.
“The church of the fourth century.” The expression is Mr. Newman's,—and it plainly tells us what is his object. These little phrases often betray a great deal. There is one at page 8, quoted from Ambrose, which is full of meaning.
“It is written, God's to God, and Cæsar's to Cæsar. The palace is the emperor's, the churches are—the bishop's .!”
The antithesis, if correctly carried out, would have run thus : “ The palace is the emperor's; the churches are God's.” But the time was now come, when He was revealing himself, of whom it was predicted, that he should “sit in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” And, in the budding of this usurpation, Ambrose does this obvious violence to the passage he is quoting, and says, “ the palace is the emperor's, the churches are—the bishop's.'
But let us pass on to the main question. Mr. Newman makes no secret of the fact, that the fourth century is his model of perfection, and that when he speaks of “the Church of the Fathers," it is the Church of Ambrose and Basil, not of Polycarp, Clement, and Irenæus, that he is glorying in. Yet, while he thus clearly implies, practically, a distinction between the first and second centuries, and the fourth,--he will concede nothing of the kind, in his argument. He knows that such an admission, in words, would end the whole controversy. He therefore coolly demands, that we shall admit the fourth century to be identical, in doctrine, ritual, and discipline, with the first, for this very new and singular reason,--because he cannot prove it. Here are his own words :
“We sometimes hear it said that, true though it be, that the Catholic system, as we Anglicans maintain existed in the fourth century, yet that nevertheless it was a system foreign to the pure Gospel, though introduced at a very early age; a system of Pagan or Jewish origin, which crept in unawares, and was established on the ruins of the Apostolic faith by the episcopal confederation, which mainly depended on it for its own mainte
In other words, it is considered by some persons to be a system of priestcraft, destructive of Christian liberty.
Now, it is no paradox to say, that this would be a sufficient answer to such a speculation, were there no other, viz. that no answer can be made to it. I say, supposing it could not be answered at all, that fact would be an
All discussion must have data to go upon; without data, neither one party can dispute, nor the other. If I maintained there were negroes in the moon, I should like to know how these same philosophers would answer
Of course they would not attempt it: they would confess they had no grounds for denying it, only they would add, that I had no grounds for asserting it. They would not prove that I was wrong, but call upon me to prove that I was right. They would consider such a mode of talking idle and childish, and unworthy the consideration of a serious man; else there would be no end of speculation, no hope of certainty and unanimity in anything. Is a man to be allowed to say what he will, and bring no reasons for it? Even if his hypothesis fitted into the facts of the case, still it would be but an hypothesis, and might be met perhaps, in the course of time, by another hypothesis, presenting as satisfactory a solution of them. But if it would not be necessarily true, though it were adequate, much less is it entitled to consideration, before it is proved to be adequate,-before it is actually reconciled with the facts of the case; and when another hypothesis has, from the beginning, been in the possession of the field. From the first it has been believed, that the Catholic system is Apostolic; convincing reasons must be brought against this belief, and in favour of another, before that other is to be preferred to it."'-(pp. 279, 280.)
This is a sort of argumentation which is peculiarly disagreeable to a simple mind, inasmuch as it has an air of insincerity about it. One cannot suppress a degree of doubt, as to whether the propounder of such reasonings can be in earnest,—whether he really thinks that such arguments ought to persuade.
For what can be clearer, than that there is a dextrous (too dertrous) inversion of the just order of reasoning. The onus is, by a sort of pea-and-thimble management, thrown over to the wrong party.
Mr. Newman it is, and all his abettors, whether of Oxford or Rome, who propound a startling claim or proposition, and who are fairly liable to be called on to
their He endeavours, it is true, to shift the burden. He says, “You Protestants tell us that the system of the fourth century is not apostolic: do you prove your assertion.” But this is a demand as clearly opposed to every known rule of reasoning as it is possible for any requirement to be.
To come to particulars : Mr. Newman gives us a synopsis of the “ Apostolic canons,” to which he evidently desires to attribute apostolic authority. Among these canons we find,“ that a person who had married a second time after baptism should not hold any office in the ministry,”—“that clergy who had entered the sacred pale single might marry, provided they were only readers or chanters.” They also “assume that there is an altar and a sacrifice in the Church."
They speak of demoniacal possession and exorcism."
Now we say that these and other things in the Nicene church were additions to the Apostolic system, and we demand to know upon what authority such additions were made. But Mr. Newman evades this demand, and wishes to throw the onus of proof upon us. “Select,” he says, "for yourself your doctrine, or your ordinance, which you say was introduced, and try to give the history of its introduction." (p. 281.) We refuse to do any such thing , and we say, that it rests with Mr. Newman himself to establish these canons and practices before we can be called upon to say a word. He argues :
“ If the Church system be not Apostolic, it must, some time or other, hare been introduced; and then comes the question, when? We maintain, that the known circumstances of the previous history are such as to preclude the possibility of any time being assigned, ever so close upon the Apostles, at which it did not exist. Not only cannot time be shown when the free-andeasy system now in fashion did generally exist, but no time can be shown in which it can be colourably maintained that the Church system did not exist It will be said, of course, that the Church system was gradually introduced. I do not say there have never been introductions of any kind; but let us see what they amount to here. Select for yourself your doctrine,' or your ordi
nance, which you say was introduced, and try to give the history of its introduction."--(pp. 280, 281.)
Aye, but Mr. Newman does not “let us see what they amount to.” He keeps the greater portion out of sight. He just names one or two of the least offensive customs, and then requires us to show where they are forbidden, or to fix the time and manner of their introduction. Let him carry this throughout.
The practice of giving the consecrated elements to children, even to infants, and to dead persons ;—the practice of ten or twenty years' penance for a single offence ;—the practice of baptizing both men and women entirely naked, “as naked,” says Chrysostom, "as Adam in Paradise” —these and many other customs of the Nicene days, stand just on the same ground as the former; and a defender of any of them may retort, in his turn, on Mr. Newman, and say to him, "give the history of its introduction, tell us where and when and how it was first introduced; or else, own it to be Apostolic, and manfully restore it.”
Nor can we stop here. The baptism of bells,—the baptism, in many popish countries at this day, of horses, asses, and cattle,the offering up “the tremendous and unbloody sacrifice" in order to secure a good take of herrings,—these and numberless other superstitions, all stand on the same ground. In each case Mr. Newman's principle applies, and the Papist of Sicily or Mexico may say to him, “ Prove that it was an interpolation, give the history of its introduction, or else own that it was Apostolic.”
The reader will casily comprehend, by this time, something of Mr. Newman's dexterity at an argument. The passage we are now about to quote, and at some length, will exhibit him in the still more discreditable light of one who utterly misstates and obscures,-in such sort that ignorance cannot be pleaded,—the whole question between Protestantism and what he chooses to call “the Church system:”
“ From what has been said, it would appear that the Canons called Apostolical come to us under circumstances which make them of especial service in an inquiry which we are desirous of seeing carefully instituted, but which would not suit these pages. Are there discoverable in the records of antiquity any traces of that sudden corruption or declension of primitive Christianity which out-and-out Protestants say certainly did take place, or else Christianity, as we find it in history, would not be so unlike their own Christianity? or, on the other hand, is not this argument itself, after all, the real and sole ground of the alleged fact,-viz. Christians must necessarily have fallen away, or else Protestantism is not divine ?' Is the supposed declension proved historically, or is it argued and inferred that it cannot but be so, as being a necessary hypothesis, or key-stone, for reconciling discordant evidence, -viz. ancient facts with modern opinions? In short, is there,
| Bingham, vol. iij. p. 589.