« НазадПродовжити »
irreconcilable; consequently the attempt to unite them only produces nonsense. It was for this reason no doubt that M. Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, pronounced the decree not binding, because ineptum, for what is ineptum, or foolish, is also irritum, in vain, useless, invalid, null.
To suppose that Christ gave infallibility to one body in His Church, and that Revelation gives it to another would be an impiety, which no Council and no Pope could define. It falls dead of itself. Every Roman Catholic is exempt from the obligation of receiving a dogma of this kind. He would merely deny his faith if he were to do so. The principle so admirably laid down by Father Newman here applies : If the Pope should command anything against the articles of the faith,'' he ought not to be obeyed.” If any such decree is made by the Pope or by a Council, it is to be regarded as of no obligation.
It seems therefore that the dogma of the Papal Infallibility still really remains to be defined by the Roman Catholic Church, and that those who are endeavouring to .force the Vatican definition on the faithful are incurring the sin of imposing as a matter of faith, and under penalty of excommunication, what has not been defined. I do not dispute the right of a legitimate synod of their communion to make decrees for them: but I think that on the true principles of Minimism the present definition is, to say the least, so questionable in its meaning, that it can have no obligation upon the Roman Catholic conscience.
1 Newman, Letter, g-c., p. 52.
Of course any objections, whatever they may be, that may happen to be contrary to the will of the Pope and his Ultramontane advisers, will be overborne and crushed down by the exercise of intimidation. Few Roman Catholics dare to encounter excommunication. Whether Papal Infallibility be really defined or not defined, is of little consequence to their leaders. They are determined at all events to compel its acceptance. Yet reason will perhaps eventually reassert its rights.
$ 9. EXAMINATION OF THE FOUR FAITAS
The four faiths on which we have been commenting concur, as we have seen, in certain central principles. That is to say, the Gallican and the Gallico-Ultramontane accept what is really the Ultramontane doctrine, that the Pope is the Divinely appointed head of the Christian Church, and the Divinely appointed centre of unity. We have sufficiently examined the first part of this theory; and it now remains to consider the question of unity and its centre.
There is no reason to question that the Roman See, in virtue of its Primacy as before defined, may be a means at times of preserving Christian unity. If this Primacy be understood in the sense of the Council of 630 bishops at Chalcedon, it may have been, and it might still be conducive to unity both in faith and communion. It has formerly served, and it still might serve, as a centre and medium of Christian intercommunion between the East and the West. This is all most true; but when the Roman Primacy becomes elevated from the position of an ancient human institution to that of one strictly Divine—when it becomes a grand article of faith on which Christianity is made to depend—when obedience to the Papacy becomes the test of Christianity, and the turning point between salvation and damnation, then the whole state of the case is vitally altered. It is, as we know, pressed unceasingly upon Protestants and Orientals by Latin controversialists, that unity cannot possibly exist without the Papacy, that if its power is not acknowledged Christianity must inevitably fall to pieces and disappear. Surely these ingenious reasoners, in their anxiety to uphold the Papacy, seem to have omitted one main factor in their calculation. They have forgotten the existence of God. They suppose, apparently, that God has not the power of maintaining unity in His Church, unless in the particular mode and by the particular means which appear to their judgment to be requisite. Has not God the power to accomplish whatever He wills in His own way? Are we bound to define for Him the particular path which He must trace in order to preserve and maintain His Church ?
But to come to matters of fact. Is it as certain as some persons assume, that Catholic unity in communion has vitally depended upon union with the Chair of Peter,' the foundation and centre of Catholic unity? Well, we have nothing to say against its utility in those ages when it had not yet been Deified. But when we are told to look at later times, when it was Deified, and to recognise there the uniting and consolidating results of the Divine supremacy, we are not so ready to assent. Had not the Divine right of the Papal supremacy been put forth—had the Pontiffs been contented with the rank of first patriarch and first bishop of Christianity, the whole Eastern and Western Church would have remained united in communion up to the present day. Had not the same change occurred in the attitude of the Papacy, there never would have been that desperate struggle between the spiritual and temporal power which makes up the history of the middle ages; nor would Gallicanism, with its strong opposition to the Papacy; and all the struggles of the Pontiffs and excommunications of churches and prelates in the controversy ever have been heard of. The Waldenses, Albigenses, Wickliffites, and Hussites would not have taken the attitude they did ; their views would have been more moderate, or they would have become moderated, and Christianity would not have been defiled by their bloody extirpation. The Reformation would never have taken place, nor would Latin Christianity have been torn in twain, nor would the desperate religious wars of two centuries have taken place. Jansenism would not have excited troubles; it would have moderated. At this moment too, Europe would not be resting on the edge of a volcano; religious prejudices in Germany furiously excited even to the extent of assassination, and threats of rebellion ; Spain torn by civil war; Ireland a hot-bed of sedition ; France scarcely able to restrain herself from being thrice driven by a legion of evil spirits into the abyss of war and