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he Roman Church.
1880] The Variations of the Roman Church, 601 the Reformation in a sense in which they do not exist pow. Let us notice a few of these.
(1) The Roman (hurch broke off from the old Eastern Church in
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aspect of the old cathedrals belongs equally to both sides of Christendom; and as regards their simplicity, their elevation, their subordination of the parts to the whole, are characteristic, as Dean Milman well observed, rather of the Christianity of the philosophical and rational period which the Reformation inaugurated than of the small minute observances in which modern Roman religion delights. It is a confirmation of this view that the curious imitations of the worst parts of Roman Catholicism, which has been recently developed in the English Church, are almost entirely confined to modern buildings, and have never taken possession of or been fostered by our historical cathedrals. And in the Roman Church itself the gaudy dresses of wonder-working images, and accumulation of ex-votos, artificial flowers, grottoes, and the like, are far less common in the ancient triumphs of architectural genius than in the popular resorts of modern pilgrimage or of local devotion.
(3) Another element of similarity to the Protestant character in the Mediæval Church is to be found in the free-spoken language adopted both by clergy and laymen, before the Reformation, on the subject of ecclesiastical abuses. In the mediæval literature there are about half a dozen works which have survived the shock of time and the change of fashion. Of these hardly one could have been produced in the Roman Church since the sixteenth century. The audacity with which the Divina Commedia' of Dante touches on the relations of the Empire and the Pontificate, the temporal power of the Papal See, and the vices of the clergy, would now be intolerable to the Roman hierarchy. The book on which he chiefly prided himself, the
De Monarchia,' is actually on the Index. Chaucer and Petrarch would never have been regarded as genuine products of the Church in any time later than Leo X. The “Imitation of Christ'speaks of pilgrimages in a tone far more Protestant than Roman, and soars into an atmosphere, for the most part, wholly unlike to most of the books of Roman devotion since the time of Ignatius Loyola. The invectives of Saints like Bernard, of theologians like Gerson, of scholars like Erasmus, against the superstitions and corruptions of the Church, which were all deemed compatible with fidelity to the Roman Communion before the sixteenth century, have become almost impossible since. Whenever such voices have been raised, in later times, within the pale of the Roman Church, they have been either immediately suppressed or regarded with aversion and suspicion.
The spirit which animated them has passed across the border and taken refuge in those Churches which threw off the Roman yoke, and which, therefore, justly claim an affinity with these their precursors in the Mediæval Church far more deep and close than can be claimed by champions of modern Catholicism.
(4) Another mark of Protestant variety in the Mediæval Church may be found in the incessant rivalries of the monastic orders between themselves and, or against, the bishops, as well as in the fierce animosities of the various scholastic systems. Erasmus, in noticing them as obstacles to the spread of the Gospel amongst the heathen, spoke of them in exactly the same terms as we might speak at present of the diversities of Protestant sects. This sign of discord or life, according as we choose to regard it, may perhaps still exist in the Roman Church. But its utterances very rarely reach the outer world.
II. Let us pass to the present condition of the Roman Church.
(1) It naturally follows, from what has been said, that the chasm which exists between a large portion of the ancient spirit of the Mediæval Church and the spirit of the modern Roman Church must create a constant jarring and discord, and present a long series of variations.
There is hardly more unity of thought between the architecture of a modern Jesuit Church and Cologne Cathedral than there is between that of Cologne Cathedral and a Quakers' meeting-house. The whole style and genius of the buildings, and the minds that inspired them, are different.
The changes just noticed in the case of the Sacraments are as irreconcileable with the claim of unchangeable unity as the restoration of the Eucharistic cup in the Protestant Churches, or the abolition of the water of baptism by the Society of Friends.
In the authorised books of devotion, what an extraordinary depth of discordance in spirit the moment we penetrate below the surface ! Take the Breviary, now for the first time rendered comparatively accessible by the elaborate translation into English which has been given to us by the careful labours of Lord Bute. There is no point where the authoritative decision of a Church is more required than in the discrimination of the devotional materials which it furnishes for the moral and intellectual food of the people. Look at the stories which the Breviary contains for instruction on Saints' days. The stories of Pope Silvester and Pope Marcellinus, regularly incorporated in the Breviary, are condemned in Lord Bute's annotations, guardedly but decidedly, as unworthy of acceptance. Yet they still remain, and other tales of the same kind remain also without such warning. We would not be hard in our requirements. Every Church must find it difficult to meet from age to age and year to year the exactions of modern criticism. Yet, as far back as 1552, the Church of England did not hesitate to exclude the festival of St. Mary Magdalen from the Prayer-book, because it rested on a precarious interpretation of the Biblical text. And in a Church possessing such a machinery for authoritative declarations as that of Rome, it is a mark of rare lethargy or laxity when we find it leaving such questions to be thus initiated and ventilated by a private layman.
Again, in the most solemn and sacred form of all-the Canon of the Mass. It is well known to students that this venerable document contains two elements entirely incompatible with two of the most widely recognised doctrines of the Roman Church. One is the fact that, in that formulary, the priest confesses to the people and the people absolve the priest; exactly in the same terms as, immediately before, the people confess to the priest and the priest absolves the people. This interesting passage, now obscured by the unimpressive and unintelligible manner in which these solemn words are uttered, is obviously quite irreconcilable with the ordinary doctrine that the priest alone is the dispenser of absolution. The other is the fact that the words Oblation, Host,' Sacrifice,' are said of the bread and wine before their consecration; and that, therefore, the Sacrifice, the Host of the Eucharist, is not the Body and Blood (into which, on whatever hypothesis and with whatsoever meaning, the bread and wine are said to be transformed by the words of institution), but the natural fruits of the earth, according to the primitive usage of thanksgiving for the benefits of Providence in the gifts of creation. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in the sense of offering up the Body and Blood of the Redeemer, exists in the decrees of Trent and in the minds of many devout Roman Catholics; but it is not that which is found in the solemn and authorised Liturgy of the Roman Church.
(2) There can be no question that the theory and law of marriage lie at the basis of human society. Yet on this important subject the widest diversities exist in the Roman Church. In modern times what is called civil marriage (that is, a marriage before witnesses without religious services) has been condemned by high Roman authorities as hardly deserving the name of marriage at all. But this very form of matrimony is that which before the Council of Trent, in all Continental Christendom, was regarded by the Catholic Church not only as a bonâ fide union of man and wife, but as a sacrament." The consent of two persons in the presence of a witness was sufficient to constitute a valid marriage. It was not till the Council of Trent that the intervention of the parish priest was considered necessary; and even then, not as himself performing the marriage, but as a witness. The celebration of the sacrament is not vested even now in the person of the priest who gives the benediction, but in the person of the man and woman who make the solemn agreements in his presence. This form of sponsalia per verba de prosenti (i.e. by words on the part of the contracting parties containing the assurance of their present intention) was regarded as the essence of the sacrament, with or without the religious ceremony. In England, indeed, before the Reformation, and down till the passing of Lord Hardwicke's Act, the witness was to be a clergyman, but a clergyman of any kind. Hence the Fleet marriages and the wellknown incident of the Vicar of Wakefield. But in all other parts of
• Lord Stowell in Dalrymple v. Dalrymple, 2 Consist., 64, quoted in Burn's Eccl. Lan, p. 455.
Europe, including Scotland, which followed the practice of the Continent, any witness was sufficient. What are in Scotland called irregular marriages-what are by many persons regarded as excessive instances of Protestant laxity—are in fact the relics of the ancient Catholic system. And although, as has been said, the Council of Trent has restricted the selection of the witness to the parish priest, and the Code Napoléon to the mayor or registrar, yet in principle all these marriages are identical. Every valid marriage in Christendom is thus a civil marriage; the clergyman-whether in Protestant or Catholic countries-is regarded only as a public witness, and yet this doctrine is hardly to be recognised under the denunciations which are levelled against marriages contracted without the Roman ceremonial.
Divorce, again, according to the theory of the Roman Church, is impossible. But the nullification of marriage, which amounts to the same thing, is, with the proper dispensations, freely allowed for pretexts which none but the lasest of Protestant Churches would adınit. Marriage under compulsion, and compulsion often of the slightest kind, is, if the parties apply afterwards for a separation, admitted by the ecclesiastial authorities with a readiness quite incompatible with the abstract theory of the permanence of the marriage bond. Political necessities have overriden moral obligations of long standing. The dissolution of the marriage of Henri IV. with Marguerite of Navarre, and of the Emperor Napoleon I. with Josephine, are cases which leap to the memory, without enlarging on like events, completed or projected, nearer to our own time.
(3) On the question of the marriage of the clergy, which inspires in some Catholic countries a feeling of abhorrence almost like that of a natural instinct, the practice of the Roman Church, and we must add therefore its theory, have been as widely discordant and divergent as they can have been in Protestant Churches. Not to speak of the concubinage almost recognised at times in the Mediæval Church, and still said to be in that of South America and of Portugal, there is a latitude permitted on this subject by the highest authorities of the Roman Church quite incompatible with the contemptuous strains in which its divines sometimes permit themselves to speak of the married clergy of Protestant Churches, or of such a burning and shining light within their own church as Father Hyacinthe. In the great assemblies of the adherents of the Roman Communion which have of late years taken place in Rome, including the representatives of those Eastern Churches which, having acknowledged the Pope's supremacy, are thereby reckoned as integral parts of the Roman system, there have been numbered clergy whose wives and children are as fully recognised as they would be in England or Sweden; and
• In the case of Josephine the religious form of the marriage (if Madame de Rémusat is to be believed) was performed (on the evening before the coronation)