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Cardinal Wiseman, on AnrjUcan Claims of Apostolical Succession.
Essays by lI.E. Card. "Wiseman. Dolman, 1853, vol. ii. p. Ifil.
It fir.<t aj)pearcd in the Dublin Review ; Oct. ] 838.


the blessed Peter we must look for instruction in the Amongst

tlio Apostolic chairs,

faith once delivered to the Saints, Even apart from «t. Piter's

.. . Tc alone remains to us.

this his distinct olhce, there is no other Apostolic bee
which God has left upon the earth, in a position for us
to consult. The chair of St. Peter alone amongst all
the Apostles, by a special privilege still survives to
us in a long line of successors ; a fact which of
itself seems to indicate, that the custody of the faith
and the rule of the Church were divinely committed
to that favoured See, pre-eminently above the rest.
To refer to the teaching of Pope Pius VI. : —

' That the Church was founded by Christ on the firmness Constitution,
of the Rock; and that, Ly the singular favour of Christ, ^StliNovembor, 1786.'
Peter was selected above the rest to be by vicarious power
the Prince of the Apostolic Choir ; and therefore to receive
the supreme charge and authority, to be perpetuated
through his successors for all time, of feeding the whole
flock, of confirming his brethren, and of binding and loosing
over the whole earth — is a Catholic Dogma, which, having
been received from the mouth of Christ and handed down
and defended by the constant teaching of the Fathers, the
Universal Church has always held most inviolably, and fre-
quently confirmed against the errors of innovators by the
decrees of Sovereign Pontiffs and Councils.'

The Episcopal order is possessed in its fulness with- St. Peter's
out the Apostolate. The Apostolate was possessed in
its fuhiess without the Primacj^ The Primacy includes
the other two, but yet it is distinct from them. Every

^ Quoted in vol. iii. p. 227 of the Irish Annual 3Jiscellan7/, at
the commencement of an invaluable Essay on The Svpremactj of
St. Peter and his Siiccesso7-s, by Dr. Murray, Professor of Tlieo-
logy at Maynooth. I thankfully acknowledge my obligations to
the said Essiiy, and earnestly recommend its careful jierusal.



Bisliop is a true successor of the Apostles, but the
extent of his jurisdiction and mission is hmited. It
is only in council, in union with his fellow-Bishops
under the Eoman Pontiff, that he collectively exer-
cises wider powers. All the Apostles received from
Christ not only the Episcopal order, but also, by a
distinct act, universal jurisdiction and universal mis-
8t. Matt, xxviii. 19. siou to ' all uatious ;' — ' As the Father hath sent me, I

St. Jolin XX. 21. .

also send you' These universal powers, which are
not conferred on other Bishops, were conferred on each
and all of the Apostles, for the purpose of founding the
Universal Church. They were to be exercised, how-
ever, in union with, and in subordination to, the still
higher and distinct office conferred upon St. Peter.
A.D. 410-461. Hence the o-reat St. Leo teaches that —


Scrm. iv. pap. 2, ' Out of tbe whole world, Peter alone is chosen, who
eiui3demVs"uinptionis. should be Set over both the vocation of the universal
nations, and all the Apostles, and all the fathers of the
Church : that, although among the people of God there
are many priests and pastors ; yet Peter, in his own person
(proprle), may rule all those whom Christ also rules as the
Head {jjvinci'paliter). A great and marvellous fellowship
in Its own power, most dearly beloved, has the Divine
estimation {dlgnatio) conferred upon this man ; and if It
willed that the other princes should possess anything in
common with him, it never, except through him, gave
to the others whatever it did not refuse them.'

Til.' Thus St. Peter received from Christ not only the

Episcopal order and tlie Apostolate in common with
the others; but, over and above these princely gifts,
he, and lie filoiio. received for himself and hissucce.s-


sors, the supreme office, and the consequent plenitude
of power and sufficiency of grace, whereby to feed,
to rule, and to govern the Universal Church. As
Bishops and as Apostles they all were equal, but as
Prince of the Apostles and as Vicar of Christ after
His departure, St. Peter was raised above them all.

The Episcopal order is an essential part of the
Divine hierarchy of the Church, and must always
continue in its plenitude. But the Apostolic work
of the foundation of the Church has been accom-
plished, and so far, therefore, the Apostolate has
ceased. That is to say, the universal mission and
jurisdiction conferred on each and all of the Apostles
has not been continued to their successors, excepting
in the case of their head, the blessed Peter. The
Apostolate was more extensive than the Episcopate,
and the Primacy was over and above the Apostolate.
It concerned not only the foundation of the Universal
Church, but its preservation and its unity for all
ages, and therefore it could never cease. St. Peter
and his successors for evermore were constituted the
Vicars of Christ. Not Successors of Christ, but
Vica7\s. Christ still rules His Church, but he does
so through the successors of Peter. Tlie Apostles
were associated with Peter in establishing' and
governing the Church, but they were subordinate to
him as the representative of Christ.

The wall of the new Jerusalem in the Apocal}q)se Apostolic
'had twelve foundations, and in tliem, the twelve Air^'^Tw

' ' ApOC. X.\l. 11.

names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb :' and it was



St. Matt. xix. 28.


said to them by their Divine Master — ' Wlien the Son
of man shall sit on the seat of His majest}^, you also
shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of
Israel.' These are Apostohc privileges in which they
all are equal : and that Holy Church regards and
venerates them still as her rulers in union with blessed
Peter, is evident from the words of her liturgical Pre-
face on their feasts, wherein she beseeches God
that ' He the eternal Pastor will not desert His flock,
but that through His blessed Apostles He will defend
it with His continual protection. Tliat it may be
governed by the same rulers whom, as Vicars of Thy
work, Thou hast employed as Pastors to preside over
the same.' St. Paul also tells us that we are ' built
upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.'

It is from his union w^itli tliat corner stone that
St. Peter is what lie is. As, when on earth, our
Lord associated him with Himself in the payment of
the tribute, saying — ' Take that, and give it to them
for 7ne and thee^ — so has He associated him "\vith
Himself as the rock on which the Cluu'ch is built,
the corner stone l)y which she is held together.
I. Cor. iii. 11. 'Other foundation,' says the Apostle, ' no man can
lay, but tliat which is laid ; wliich is Christ Jesus.'
Yet Jesus united Peter to Himself, and made him
the visible minister of His own Divine work. Thus
in the continuation of the sermon already quoted,
St. Leo speaks as follows : —
Ubi supra, p. 4G. ' /, Cliiist says, sciy io Hice^ (Peter): 'that is, as my

Rpli. ii. 20.

St. Peter



St. Matt. xvii. 20.

Proviiu'. Vienn.
const itiitos.


Father has manifested to thee my divinity, so I also make
known to thee thy excellence. That thou art Peter : that
is, though I am the inviolable rock; I, the corner stone tvho
7nake both one ; I, the foundation besides which no man can
lay another ; — yet thou also art the rock, because thou shalt
be made firm by my strength, that those things which by
my power are my own, may be thine in common, by par-
ticipation with me.'

Elsewhere, the same holy Pontiff teaches : —

* The Lord willed that the sacrament of this charge ' Epist. x.

(preaching the gospel) ' should appertain to the office of all Episcopos

the Apostles, with the understanding that He vested it pei-

principally in the most blessed Peter, the chief of all the
Apostles ; and He wills His gifts to flow into the whole
body from the same, as from a head ; that whoso should
dare to withdraw from the solidity of Peter might under-
stand that he has no part in the divine mystery. For He
willed that this man, whom He had taken into the fellow-
ship of an inseparable unity, should be named that which
He Himself was, saying, Thou art Peter, and upon this
rock lu'ill build my Church.''

Our Lord, mdeed, is not only the foundation but cin-ist

the founder of His Church, which He has purchased .^\\ ;'„ aii.
with His most precious blood, and established upon
Peter by His own power. All that Peter and others
are, they are, not in their own strength, but in Christ's.
Li this Christ necessarily stands alone, but -He dis-
penses His gifts as He will and where He will. His
word is power, and when He named Simon — the
rock — He made him what he named him. When He
promised to build on him the Church against which
the gates of hell should not prevail, He bestowed on
him an inalienable union with Himself for all time



as tlie one foundation of tliat Church ; and, as that
visible Church was to be gathered from successive
generations of men, so, after Peter had followed his
Lord both in His cross and in His glory, was it to
be founded on the successors of Peter, imperishable
and invincible in its basis and in its structure.
St. Pfter On them, also, was to descend the rule over the

' Head. wholc Cliurcli prouiiscd to St. Peter under the sym-

l)ol of the keys, by which our Lord made him again
to be a sharer in His own office. The keys are not
promised to the Church, but to Peter. It is througli
Peter that they come to the Church ; through Peter
that they continue with the Church ; and beyond
the Hmits assigned by Peter and his successors their
power is not extended.
Suprome authority Our Lorcl sixjs, ' Ou this rock I will build My

conveyed n tt -i -i i x -n • 7 i

by Chui-ch ; and He adds, ' and i will give to thee tlie

St. Matt. xvi. 18, 19. kcys.' Hc says not, to hei\ i.e. the Church ; He says,
to thee — Peter — thereby setting him over the Church.
Por the keys convey more than the power of binding
and loosing, which, in conjunction with St. Peter, was
afterwards bestowed on the other Apostles; they con-
vey supreme authority over the exercise of that power.
Apoc.i. 18. Thus, in the Apocalypse, our Lord speaks of Himself
as having ' the keys of death and of hell ;' and again,
ihid.iii. 7. as ' He that hath the key of David ; He that openeth,
and no man shutteth ; shutteth, and no man openeth.'
The power of the keys includes both the power of
l^inding and loosing, and also the control over the
exercise of tliat power by others. Wlien St. Peter's


keys open, none other can sliiit ; when they sliiit,

none other can open. It is not so with any other,

for all others are subordinate to Peter. God says

of Eliacim in the prophecy, — 'He shall be as a isaiasxxii. 21,22.

father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the

house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house

of David upon his shoulder : and he shall open

and none shall shut : and he shall shut, and none

shall open.' Primarily, this prefigured Christ ;

secondarily, His servant Peter. He made Peter His

representative, as He had before chosen Eliacim to

be His type.

Throuo;hout the Gosi^els, the priority mven to ■'^t. phpi-
St. Peter is most apparent. In the lists of the
Apostles his name is invariably first. Thus, in St.
Matthew, — ' The first, Simon who is called Peter ' — st.sratt. x. 2.
in the vulgate, jyi^inms — in the Greek, Trpcbrog. So,
too, we find frequently such expressions as — ' Simon st. i\rarki.36.
and they that were with him.' — ' Peter and they that " ' ix! 32.*
were with him.' Again, when the women sought
their risen Lord in the sepulchre, they were told by
the angel, — ' Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He st.]\r;vrk xvi. 7.
goeth before you into Galilee.' Why should Peter be
especially named here, excepting as the leader and
representative of the Apostles? St. Gregory the
Great gives it, indeed, as a reason, that our Lord,
in His loving tenderness, wished to encourage him
after his fall and deep repentance. But, so for
from ignoring the primacy, he goes on to explain
why God permitted such a fall in the case of one



allowed tu fall.


whom lie intended to set over the wliole Church.
He comments on the passage as follows : —

TTf.m. in Evang. xxi. 4. ' We must inquire why, when the disciples are mentioned,
Peter is marked out by name. But, if the angel had not
^vhy St. Peter expressly named him who had denied his Master, he
would not have dared to come among the disciples. There-
fore he is called by name, lest he should despair on account
of his denial. In which matter we must consider why
Almighty God permitted him, whom He had determined to.
set over the entire church {quern cunctm Ecdesicc prwferre
disposuerat), to be affrighted at the voice of a servant
girl, and to deny Himself. Which, in truth, we perceive to
have been done by a most merciful dispensation ; in order
that he who was the future Pastor of the Church should
learn, through his own fault, how he ought to have com-
passion upon others. First, therefore. He shows him to
himself, and then he set him over the rest, in order that
he might learn, from his own infirmity, how mercifully he
should bear with the infirmities of others.'

In this, too, was Peter to be made most like his
Hcb. iv. 15. Master, Who, though ' without sin,' was ' tempted in
all things hke as we are,' and can, therefore, ' have
compassion on our infirmities.'

Amongst early ecclesiastical writers the well-known

designation of St. Peter is, — Prince of the Apostles.

Thus (to quote one out of a multitude), St. C3Til of

Catecb. ii. 19. Jerusalem names him as ' Peter the chiefest (6 xopu-

(^aioTuros xa) Tr^coTrxTrarr^^) and foremost of the

Ibid. xvii. 27. apostles ; ' — ' Key-bearer of the kingdom of heaven.'

This chief position was continued to the See of Peter,

Ep. xiiii. 7. as St. Augustine testifies when he speaks of ' the

Eoman Cliurch in which the principality {princi-


patus) of the apostolic cliair has always remained in
vigour (semper viguity

It is the presence of Christ in His Church which st. Peter's Se.-

IS also

renders her chief pastors collectively, firm and in- the .str.ngtii

violable in the faith ; and this office also, which is Episcopate.

exercised invisibly by His Spirit, He has conferred

upon Peter and his successors as His visible organs.

The words of our Lord are explicit. On the very night

of His passion, when He prayed for the visible and

perpetual unity of His Church, He gave to Peter

alone the charge of confirming and consolidating that

Church: — 'And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, St. Lukcxxii. 31.

behold Satan hath desired to have you [vy^oLQ) that

he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for

thee (TTrp) (Tou) that thy (o-ou) faith fail not : and thou

{(Tv) being once converted, confirm thy brethren.'

The words vary, — you, — and thee and thou. AU were

to be attacked by hell ; but their strength was to be

ill one, and that very one who was afterwards to be

their strength, was first to display his insufficiency

apart from Clirist ; that the power of Christ might,

through all ages, be the more apparent in him

through liis previous momentary weakness when left

to his own support. St. Ambrose, before St. Gregory,

taught that the trial was permitted in order to fit St.

Peter for his supreme office. He says : — in Ps.xiiii. 40.

* The adversary is compelled to tempt the Saints of Reason

the Lord, to his own loss. For by tempting them teg^p^^t^^./^J^j^^^^i^^^
makes them better, that he who is tempted may be able to
instruct {instil uei'e) others also; even he who, to himself,


appeared infirm. It is then that Peter is set over the
Church, after he was tempted of the deviL And on that
account the Lord signifies beforehand what that is, be-
cause, afterwards, ]ie elected him Pastor of the Lord's flock.
For to him he said : hut thou being converted confirm thy

The Our Lord is pre-eminently tlie good Shepherd. It

guod Shepherd. , . .

IS one of the most endearnig oi His titles, and the
subject of one of the most touching of His pro-

isaias xi. 11. pliccics rcspcctiug Himsclf : — ' He shall feed His flock
like a shepherd : He shall gatlier together the
lambs with His arm, and shall take them up in His
bosom, and He Himself shall carry them that are
with young.' Tliis office also, which, spiritually and
invisibly, He Himself still fidfils. He has conferred
upon Peter and the successors of Peter as His outward
and visible agents and ministers. We know how,
after the chief Apostle had redeemed his threefold
fall by a threefold protestation of love, our blessed
Lord Himself committed to him as His own Vicar, the
charge of His own Hock, by a thrice repeated com-

st. Joiin xxi mission, — ' Feed my lambs,' ' Feed iny lambs,' ' Feed
my sheep,' — BoV^cs to. apvla [xou, Ylolixaivs TO. Trco^ara
[j.r>\j. Feed and rule not only my lambs, but my
sheep the mothers of tlie lambs, — my whole flock.
Feed and govern all. The word 7ro//xa<j/s (which,
ill the Greek, has reference to the sheep) is the
very same wliich is applied to our Lord Himself in
the [)r()])hecy quoted by St. Matthew (chap. ii. 6),
niid rendered in the English, rule \ — 'that shall
1 iile (7roi[xavs7) my j)eo])le Israel.'

There is an account in the diary of Archbishop


Laud, of a conversation between himself and a Thoofficp
Catholic on the primacy of St. Peter's See, and how ^'^cullil^'i-'mi'."
at last the Catholic would make no other answer
than the repetition of the words, — Daho claves, —
Pasceagtios; Pasceoves. — In truth, no human sophistry
can elude the divine simplicity and force of our
Lord's promise of supreme power, which was sym-
bolized by the keys ; nor explain away the fact of
its completion and fulfilment in the final committal
of the whole Church to tlie pastoral care and rule
of Peter, which included the charge of confirming
and maintaining in the faith his venerable brethren,
the Episcopate of the whole world. Moreover it is
manifest from the very nature of this commission,
that it was to descend in its fulness upon each suc-
ceeding occupant of St, Peter's See, so long as there
should be a flock to feed and to defend, to guide
and to rule over.

It is not man, it is Christ Himself Who, in these cin-ist

His pastors, still holds the keys, and feeds and rules ™ ^^ Poi'S
His flock. Thus, the Eoman Catechism teaches of
the Church, that ' its ruler and governor is one, Catcch. ox deercto

' . . . ° ^ Coiicil. Tridunl.

Christ indeed invisibly, whom the Eternal Father p. i. cap. x.

"hath made Head over all the Church, which is His Eph. i. i-i, 23.
Body"; but visibly, the occupant of the Roman See, the
legitimate successor of Peter Prince of the Apostles.'

' To Peter,' says St. Peter Chrysologus, ' does the .Serm. vi.

Lord commend His sheep, wlien about to return to j^i^^ JJ, q,.,,^

heaven, that he may feed them in Ilis stead He . , 'y,f < -^

' •' CllOll A.D. 40U.

commends to him the sheep and the offspring of the
sheep ; for He, the foreseeing Pastor, already knew



Horn, in Vig.
?S. Pet. ct PiiuL'

Lib. ii. Ep. 75.

C'ire;i A.D. 430.

Ed. Leon. Allat.

Those offices


tlic future fecundity of His flock.' ' First,' says St.
Eucherius (a.d. 445), ' He commits the lambs to him,
then the sheep, because He makes liim not pastor
only, but pastor of pastors. Peter therefore feeds
lambs and sheep, feeds children and mothers, rules
both subjects and prelates.' St. Nilus observes that
the Lord, after consoling the penitent heart of Peter,
' constituted him the shepherd of the whole world '
(7roi[xiva. rrjg o]xotj[xivr]g a7rd(n^g xaSi<rTrj<nvy

It is self-evident that all these offices were not to
cease with Peter, since they were not given for the
sake of Peter, but for the sake of the Church,
and for the work of the Church, and were still more
needed for future generations than for the time when
the other apostles were on earth. Numberless
authorities might be produced to prove that such
was the belief of the early ages ; but it may suffice
to quote two which distinctly state it. The first
occurs in the address of the Presbyter Philip,

' Quoted from Sconce's Testimony of Antiquitij to the Sitpre-
macij of the Holy See — a most useful book, published in Sydney,
1848, and sold by Messrs. Bui'ns & Oatpa of London. Besides
authorities, it contains simple, clear, and honest reasoning. It is
to be regretted that the Rev. J. Watervvorth's Faith of Catholics,
3 vols. 8vo., Dolman, 1816, which gives so large and valuable a
collection of early testimony to Catholic doctrine, has also repro-
duced certain propositions from a treatise censured by Bishop
INIilner as ' defective, ambiguous, suspicious, and erroneous.' See
the Kev. W. II. Anderdon's letter in the Weelly liejister of
March 31st, 18GG, republished by the Dublin Review in July
1<S0(), p. 257, in reierence to a rejtrint of the aforcsiiid treatise
undi r tlie title of The Catholic Eirenicon (Hayes, London, 1865),
' li-cjni the edition of 1815.'


Legate of tlie Apostolic See of Eome, to the third
great Q^cunienical Council, held at Ephesus a.d. 431.
There, in the heart of the East, without a dissentient
voice among the bishops, he commences his confir-
mation of the condemnation of Nestorius (on the
part of Pope St. Celestine) in the following terms : —

* No one doubts, nay it is known through all ages, that Hard. Act. Concil.
the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the • • ^^ • ' •
apostles, column of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic

Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Eedeemer of the human
race, and there was given to the same the power of loosing
and of binding sins : who up to this time without intermis-
sion, and always, lives and exercises the ofiSce of a judge
(judicium exercet) in his successors.'

Anglicans profess to follow in all things tlie first
centuries of the Church, and to accept the above-
named Council of Ephesus. But, it may be asked,
would the same words be received in the same way
by the English convocation, if addressed to that
assembly by a legate of Pope Pius IX. ?

It was not many years later when the great St. Leo
(in one of his sermons on the anniversary of his
elevation to the Eoman Pontificate), after speaking
of our Lord Jesus Christ as the great High Priest
still ruling in His Church, continued his discourse as
follows : —

* Therefore, most dearly beloved, our festivity is not S*''^"!- \'- cap. iv.
presumptuous, wherein, mindfid of the divine favour, we

do honour to the day on which we received the priesthood ;
inasmuch as we piously and truly confess that Christ fulfils



1)0 Trill.
L. \-i. c. 20.

Tlie rnmacy

a groat grace.

the work of our ministry in all things that we rightly per-
form ; and not in ourselves, who without Him can do
nothing, but in Himself, Who is our power, do we glory.
Another reason for our solemnity is not only the Apostolic,
but also the Episcopal dignity of the most blessed Peter,
who ceases not to preside over his see, and maintains an
imfailing fellowship with the eternal Priest. For that
solidity, which, from the Rock Christ, he also, made a liock,
received (de Petra Christo etiamipse Petraf actus accepit),
has transfused itself also to his heirs, and wheresoever any
firmness is manifested, without doubt there appears the for-
titude of the pastor. For if, in order to show forth their
merits, it has been granted to nearly all the martyrs every-
where, because of their endurance of the sutferings they
embraced, to assist those in danger, to drive away diseases,
to expel unclean spirits, and to cure innumerable sick-
nesses ; who will so unskilfully or enviously estimate the

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