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High-churchmen, we consider, are thoroughly beaten on whichever side they assail the Church : but if there be one battle-field more than another on which their defeat is utterly ignominious, it is this ground of history. Never was there a calumny more absurd as well as shameless, than that which ascribes to Catholics in general, or to the Archbishop of Westminster in particular, an opinion, that the Definition of Papal infallibility was a "triumph over history.” F. Humphrey treats this outrageous falsehood excellently and with richly deserved indignation, in his Preface (pp. xvi., xvii.)
What can be—we will not say its foundation, for it has no foundation--but what can be its origin? We can think of no other, except that the Archbishop has more than once protested against the view, that history is the divinely appointed source, from which individual Christians are to learn revealed dogma. God has instituted an infallible Church, as the one authoritative teacher of dogma; and the Church's authority is made known to the mass of men, not by their personal study of history, but by notes manifest and apparent to all. “Were the Church," says F. Humphrey, to be discoverable and known only in this way, by means of long, learned, and laborious investigation, salvation would be for the few, and not for all. All men have not brains, or learning, or leisure for such an inquiry ; nay, more than half the human race cannot even read. Faith, then, is not to be got from books. “Faith cometh by hearing.” Yes, it must be by signs and notes which are apparent to all ; to the poor as to the rich ; to the illiterate and the rude, as well as to the clever and the learned ; to the apple-woman at the street-corner, guileless of culture and learning, as well as to the king in his palace, and to the philosopher in his study. She has a soul to be saved as well as they ; for her, the Incarnate Word laid down His Life, and shed His Blood, as much as for them ; and she has, equally with them, a right to know where is the Divine Teacher who will guide her into all truth. (p. 23.)
But if ever there were in the world a theory grotesquely unhistorical,-a theory which treats the records of past time as a mere almanack-a theory utterly revolting to every historically cultured mind - it is that of Anglican highchurchmen. This is what has been repeatedly pressed by Catholic controversialists; and it is as coolly ignored in these Tracts, as though (which however is impossible) their writers had never heard the allegation. Once more then we must endeavour to urge on their attention, what has been so persistently put forth against them in Catholic controversy for so many centuries; small as may be our hope, that they will fulfil the most rudimentary of controversial obligations, by giving some little heed at least to what is said by their opponents.
The historical controversy between Catholics and highchurchmen turns fundamentally on the Church's divinely given constitution. And the foundation of the Catholic historical argument is this ; that whatever doctrine on this subject was unanimously held by the Fathers as divinely revealed, beyond doubt was really so revealed.* To hear high-churchmen talk, you would think that they hold this with fullest acceptance : nay, with astounding infatuation, they sometimes persuade themselves, that Catholics hold it less rootedly than they do. Now it is manifest on the very surface of history, that a certain very definite doctrine concerning the Church's constitution was held unanimously by the Fathers; and one would suppose accordingly that the controversy is at an end. The Church was universally regarded as being, by divine irrevocable appointment, one corporate body, governed by the united Episcopate. It was further universally held, that this united Episcopate has received from God the gift, of securely preserving Catholic dogma against all heretical corruption; insomuch that the Church's unity of faith is ever as visible and unmistakeable a fact, as her unity of organization. All the Fathers held, moreover, that a certain precedency was conferred by Christ on S. Peter's See before all others, whatever the exact nature of that precedency. Lastly the doctrine was no less universal, that the Church thus constituted has received from Christ an irrevocable promise, of being preserved safely in all her essential attributes until His second coming. These verities no doubt lead necessarily to one or two further inquiries : as e. g. particularly, what is the true nature of the precedency accorded to S. Peter's See ? and further, what is the principle of episcopal unity; what is that divinely appointed ordinance, which indefectibly secures the unity of episcopal action? It is not equally manifest on the surface of history, how these two questions would have been answered by the Fathers, or whether indeed all would have given the same answer. Let these points therefore for the moment be reserved; and let us look at those remaining features of the picture, on which no one can doubt that the Fathers were unanimous.
The controversy then, as we have said, would seem really to be at an end. The high-churchman starts with professing, that whatever.doctrine on this subject was unanimously held by the Fathers as divinely revealed, was really so revealed. Catholics, really holding what high-churchmen only profess,
* We by no means say, of course, that every revealed doctrine has been unanimously held as such by the Fathers ; we only express the converse proposition.
accept the preceding picture in all its minutest details. On the other hand high-churchmen utterly reject it in every particular. They deny that the Church is, by divine irrevocable appointment, one corporate body; and they deny that the Catholic Episcopate has received from God the irrevocable gift of securely preserving Catholic dogma. They have themselves chosen their battle-field; and on that battle-field they are utterly routed and put to flight.
We have mentioned two fundamental high-church theses, as manifestly and_flagrantly contradictory to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers. The first of these theses is, that the Church is not, by divine irrevocable appointment, one corporate body : and that high-churchmen maintain this thesis, is a matter of eye-sight and admits no denial. The second fundamental high-church thesis is, that the Catholic Episcopate has not received from God the irrevocable privilege, of securely preserving Catholic dogma. This thesis they certainly disclaim : but the utter hopelessness of their disclaimer does but put in clearer light the ignominiousness of their historical defeat.
The high-churchman then does not leny—so he assures the world—that the Catholic Episcopate has received from God the irrevocable privilege, of securely preserving Catholic dogma. On the contrary, he declares that those three societies, which he regards as jointly constituting the Catholic Church, agree in prominently testifying the fundamental truths of Revelation. This or that branch, he admits, may have admitted subordinate errors; but he adds, that neither the Roman, nor Greek, nor Anglican Communion has ever been sullied by heresy. An amazing statement indeed! For consider. According to him, it is no matter of opinion but a revealed truth, that the Pope possesses no supremacy over the Episcopal body; it is no matter of opinion but a revealed truth, that the Pope is fallible when teaching ex cathedra. According to him, then, the whole Roman Church-by far the largest branch of the three
“” imposes on her children, as of grave obligation, the denial of revealed truth; or in other words, the belief and profession of heresy : and this moreover, on no subordinate matter, but on the very Rule of Faith.*
Such, then, is that theory of the Catholic Church, which a high-churchman has the nerve to propose as patristic: a theory which affirms, that the large majority of Catholic bishops, co
* It may be worth mentioning that, with the vast majority of highchurchmen, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception must be a heresy : because they consider it a rerealed truth, that every person, born of human parents. has contracted original sin.
operating with S. Peter's See, can be permitted by Christ to enforce heresy, as of Catholic Faith and as a condition of communion. Doubtless,- since the Anglican high-churchman thinks that
a true portion of the Catholic Church can be so degraded and apostate,—there is a certain unhappy consistency, in his accounting his own communion also a portion of the Catholic Church. Still, with all his extraordinary power of making himself believe what he wishes, he cannot possibly acquiesce in such a conclusion, without resolutely blinding himself to those facts which most closely and unintermittingly surround him. Accordingly, Dr. Pusey, in the “ Eirenicon (p. 10), with characteristic undauntedness, asserted that, within the Church of England," the great body of the Faith is infallibly fixed”; that she is “a continual unchanging teacher of the Truth which Christ revealed."
We argued against this statement in January, 1866 (p. 220-229), so far as argument against it is possible; though there was of course real difficulty, in finding premises more undeniably self-evident, than is the very conclusion itself towards which those premises were directed. On the present occasion, we have no need to speak on this particular head; as several of the pamphlets named at the head of our article say, with fully sufficient vigour, all which has to be said. Foremost, in this respect, stands Mr. Maskell; whose main point, in fact, is the complete absence of dogmatic teaching among Anglicans. In all these quotations the italics will be our own.
Nothing can exceed the interest with which thoughtful men at this time must look upon the fortunes of the established Church. To the statesman who regards her as a kind of religious police and as a means, simply, of keeping people in order and obedient to the laws of the realm, the progress of disruption must be a cause of anxiety. So long as the system can be made to hold together, no other which the wit of man has ever invented can be conceived so suitable to the present day. It is more than Proteus-like. The protestant Church presents not merely any change of countenance which may happen to be wanted at the moment, so as so satisfy or deceive the discontented ; but puts on and flares before the world a dozen faces all at once. There is scarcely any known form of nominal Christianity which may not suppose, and fairly suppose, that the Establishment reflects its own shape and features. Taking Christianity to mean nothing beyond the mere fact that Jesus Christ taught the world a true religion, the formularies of the English Church invite the teaching of almost every known heresy. If this statement be thought too extreme, it must be granted that they permit both the assertion and the denial of almost every great Christian doctrine.
There is no other religious body upon earth which can lay claim to so temarkable a distinction. Speaking largely, Buddhists and Mahometans and even the worst forms of heathenism have some kind of teaching, be it more or less, which it is not lawful to dispute about or deny. Or, take the numerous sects which abound in this country. Presbyterians and Irvingites and Wesleyans and Quakers plainly teach or plainly condemn this or that particular doctrine. But the Establishment has no deliberate or certain teaching. She has thrown utterly away every pretence to the exercise of the prophetical office and leaves her members to find out for themselves, if they can, what is true and what is false. Acting like the heathen judge of old, the reformed Church of England is content (not to answer but) to ask "What is Truth ?” (pp. 10, 11.)
The ritualists know well that the established Church teaches with certainty on scarcely a single Christian doctrine. They have never dared to bring an evangelical minister into court. Their utmost threatening has been that they will prosecute some distinguished opponent for disobedience to some ceremonial rubric. In such a case it is very likely (for the Judicial Committee must decide as lawyers) that they might succeed, and make all bishops wear copes and at confirmations lay hands singly on every candidate. But they dare not bring a low churchman before an ecclesiastical judge on any disputed point of doctrine ; except, perhaps, for some denial of a part of the Athanasian Creed, so barefaced and so extravagant as to be nothing less than a denial of Christianity altogether. (pp. 15, 16.)
[In the Anglican Church) there is no certainty about any doctrine ; perhaps the Bible is inspired, perhaps it is not ; perhaps the sacraments conrey grace, perhaps it is nonsense to suppose they do ; perhaps the punishment of the wicked will be eternal, perhaps not ; perhaps God the Son is co-eternal with the Father, perhaps not ; perhaps all men "who will be saved" must think in one way only of the Trinity, perhaps not. And so on through the long list of the articles of the Christian Faith. (pp. 21, 22.)
The ritualists are in fact ultra-protestants.
The great characteristics of protestantism are, first, abuse of Roman doctrine and of Roman Catholics ; and, secondly, a claim to the unlimited right of private judgment. Both of these characteristics are eminently shown by writers of the school commonly called ritualist; who are in fact ultra-protestant. (p. 20.)
Mr. Maskell draws an important distinction, between the tractarians of thirty years ago and the present ritualists.
In considering the position occupied by ritualists in the established Church, one characteristic is to be remarked by which that party is distinguished from the earlier school of tractarians of about thirty years ago. The tractarians endeavoured to prove that the doctrines which they taught were the doctrines of the reformed Church. They were not satisfied to be merely allowed to teach them, but declared all who held opposite opinions to be not truly members of the Church. They did not merely assert (for example) * hat episcopal ordination is of necessity, or that all children are regenerated