J. F. M. (Jean François Marie) Trévern.

An answer to the Rev. G. S. Faber's Difficulties of Romanism online

. (page 21 of 23)
Online LibraryJ. F. M. (Jean François Marie) TrévernAn answer to the Rev. G. S. Faber's Difficulties of Romanism → online text (page 21 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

This is what we call the Communion of Saints, a con-
soling doctrine, a source of charming and pure delights
of which you would partake with us, if your dry and
gloomy doctrines had not taught you to dread it as a
fanciful bug- bear.

XLVII. We have told your divines a hundred times,
and we will not cease to tell them, till at last we drive
it into their heads, that idolatry is no less odious to us,
than to them; that we reject the very idea of it far
from us in our prayers; that we should hold it blasphe-
my to say to the most holy of creatures what we
address to Jesus Christ, and blasphemy to address
Jesus Christ as we do holy creatures. Witness our
litanies, where we repeat to the blessed Virgin Mary
and the Saints: "pray for us;" but to Jesus Christ,
u have mercy on its — deliver us — graciously hear us"
In a word, however strong may be the poetical ex-
pressions in our hymns, intercession is always under-
stood by us of necessity and right, whenever it is not
repeated. Mr. Faber had very judiciously observed,
p. x. of his preface, that "to charge a Latin (a Catho-
lic) with "what he holds not, and then gravely to con-
fute opinions which all the while he strenuously dis-
claims, is alike unfair and unprofitable. And here he
is employing this unfair and unprofitable method him-
self! Ex ore tuo tejudico! Let him cease therefore
to contradict himself, to condemn himself, and to bring
against us a charge of idolatry, which we shall never
cease to repel with all the energy in our power.

For the rest, be it known to him, for he has forgot-
ten what he must have read in the book, which he


professed to adopt as a text for his refutation — be it
Known to him that though we admit the invocation of
Saints as useful and profitable, we do not hold it to be
absolutely necessary, acting according as the Council
of Trent has decided. What does he mean then by
the conclusion of his note at p. 234, and the quotation
which overturn his thesis instead of supporting it?
What signifies the question proposed with such assur-
ance to his readers, with an emphatical tone complete-
ly ridiculous? "When such rituals were approved
and commonly used in the Latin Church of the West,
was, or was not, a reformation necessary?" In my
turn, I have a question to put to him, resting on a very
different foundation. Let him produce an answer.
"All that uproar and overthrow of every thing reli-
gious and political, was it, or %vas it not necessary to
abolish that, which was never held to be necessary?"


Let us endeavour to come to a conclusion: for in
truth, disgust makes the pen drop out of my hand; and
yet the most odious parts would remain to be refuted,
were I as much affected at the insults offered to me,
as at those directed against truth and religion. I will
confine myself now to a few passing reflections, short
and rapid. And first, on the subject of Relics, I must
observe, what I have alreadv had to remark over and
over again, that the Bachelor makes me still say what
I never did say, and even the very opposite to my own
words; and that he delights in repeating it, in order to
impress it upon his readers. The following are. my
words at the bottom of p. 309, vol. 2. "They talk of
the erroneous and superstitious notions, which people
have often entertained on the subject of relies; I do
not deny that such has been the case."* Mr. Faber

» On parle dc notions, erronecs, superstitieuscs, que les peuples
ont sou Tent prises, sur les reliques; ju u'tn disconviendrai pa*.


gives my sentence as follows: "Men talk of erroneous
and superstitious notions, which ive have often taken
up concerning relics: but I have never been able to dis-
cover them" — page 245. You see he exhibits through-
out, the same tactics, the same upright and honourable

The Rev. Bachelor next affects the esprit fort on the
subject of miracles wrought by occasion and in pre-
sence of relics: he will not even listen to those r which
he finds solemnly attested by such illustrious men as
St. Cyril of Alexandria, or St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St.
Ambrose, an eye-witness equally with St. Augustin,
who was then at Milan. See Discussion Amicale, vol.
2, p. 315. Let us congratulate the Bachelor on his
high opinion of his own wisdom, and the perfect self-
confidence, which he perpetually exhibits. Rest assur-
ed, sir, that he knows much more about what took place
at Milan nearly 1 500 years ago, than the learned and
holy archbishop of that metropolis; who when he learned
that certain Arians in that city called in question the
miraculous cure of a blind man, of which he himself
had been an eye-witness, mounted the pulpit the fol-
lowing day, and publicly proved the fact before an
immense assembly.


But the powers of vision possessed by the oracle seat-
ed in Durham, penetrate still farther into the darkness
of remote ages. Go and consult him at Long Newton;
ask him why the Christians in the second century
gigned their foreheads with the sign of the cross r
when they rose in the morning, when they lay
down at night, before work, before and after meals,
&c. Ask him the reason; he will tell you, and be
sure to rely on his word, do not listen to such a
man as Tertullian. This Father acknowledges that
such a custom observed so faithfully did not come
from any gospel precept, but solely from tradition.


You will perfectly understand what must have been
the source of a custom established by tradition in the
second century. But Mr. Faber decidedly pronounces
that it did not come from tradition; he understands and
maintains that it is no older than Tertullian; that the
custom and the Father entered the world much about
the same time — p. 286. It is evident that his ideas
must be more correct than those of the learned Afri-
can, as to what was believed and practised seventy
years after St. John the Evangelist. Happy is the
Church of England to foster in her bosom so bright
and even miraculous a luminary! Really the more I
think, the more I am persuaded that this gentleman
must be inspired: and here is my proof. — If he were
not, could he himself go so far as to imagine that he
knows the second century better than the most ad-
mired man of that period? Would he dare to give
the lie to that celebrated personage, and on a fact
in its nature so notorious, since the old men of that
time must have known perfectly well, whether when
they were young people they made the sign of the
cross? How then stands the case? Tertullian attests
that the practice of signing the cross on the forehead
came from a custom more ancient and handed down by
tradition-, and here Mr. Faber says to him in equiva-
lent terms: "It is not so; but the practice began in your
own time; you saw its beginning; and 1 am even tempt-
ed from your evident peevishness when asked for a
scriptural proof of its obligation, to suspect that you
may have been the author of it yourself." This lan-
guage proves indisputably one of these two things;
either inspiration, or a certain degree of folly. But
assuredly a grave and learned Rector could not be ac-
cused of the latter. Therefore we must acknowledge
his inspiration.

I observe that towards the end of the Difficulties of
Romanism, Mr. Faber no longer admits any authority
but Scripture. If he does not find there every letter of


what you maintain against him, he accuses you with-
out ceremony of gross ignorance, and mere unscriptu-
ral superstition. At the beginning he was more polite,
and more respectful towards oral and primitive tradi-
tions. He did homage to them; he acknowledged their
authority: several times he attempted to support him-
self upon them against my assertions; and it has been
seen with what success. However, I content myself
here with observing that on the Invocation of Saints,
Relics, and the Sign of the Cross he pays no longer
any regard to primitive traditions, and those authori-
ties, which he delighted to quote r when he conceived
them favourable to his cause. This contradiction of
mind and opinion is not exactly insanity; it would be
wrong to pronounce it so: it is only caprice, and versa-
tility of principle.


L. By beginning his refutation with my third Letter,
after announcing in his preface that he should follow
me step by step, Mr. Faber led me to believe that he
considered it most prudent not to enter upon the dis-
cussion of the two preceding Letters. I had no ex-
pectation of what I discovered as I advanced further
in my reply, that he had deferred the examination of
the first to the second Chapter of his Book II. page
309. He has nothing to say against the historical
summary of the establishment of the Anglican Church,
at the l>eginning of my work. He attacks the conse-
quences which I deduced from it, but he does not in
the least invalidate them. They remain strictly cor-
rect, and my arguments retain all their strength.*

•Mr. Faber has no just idea of the jurisdiction and character of
a bishop. He confounds the one with the other in what he calls
the power of order. Consecration L r ives the character: mission im-
parts jurisdiction, which is lost by schism, while the character re-
mains, because that is indelible. If the consecration of Parker had
been valid, he would have received the character, but not jurisdic-


I argued the nullity of your church establishment,
not from the character of Elizabeth, as Mr. Faber sup-
poses, but from licr radical defect of competency.
The only method by Which he could refute me, would
have been to prove that Elizabeth had a right to bring
about the change, which she effected by violence; and
this he has not even attempted to demonstrate. On the
contrary, you shall see how he himself furnishes me
with a fresh proof of the incompetency of that Queen.
"Suppose," says he, p. 314, "that we were deprived
of our present legal establishment: what would be the
consequence? Should we lose our spiritual authority as
bishops or as presbyters? Such, I apprehend, would
by no means be the result .... The spiritual power of
order we assuredly derived not from Elizabeth: hence,
of that power no present or future Sovereign of Eng-
land can deprive us." It is certain that temporal rulers
have only a right to take away what they gave. It is
equally certain that they never could give spiritual au-
thority; nor in consequence, take it away. Therefore
Elizabeth could not take away sprit ual authority from
the Catholic bishops, who occupied their sees, before she
occupied her throne. Therefore they preserved their
authority: therefore the successors she gave them were
mere intruders, without power and without jurisdic-
tion. In a word, Elizabeth had undoubtedly a right to
deprive the Catholic bishops of their palaces, their
revenues, and their places in parliament: for they held
these temporal advantages from the Crown, but their
spiritual power came not from the Crown as Mr.
Faber has so justly maintained. I was right then in
saying, and he must from his own principles acknow-
ledge it; that "without a right to throw down, and

tion; which the four consecrutors, heing in open revolt against the
Church, could not have, and of course could not impart to him. —
When speaking of the submission due to the successor of St. Peter,
and head of the universal Church, Mr. Fab r allows himself to
designate him disdainfully as "an Italian prelate," "a bishop of
Italy," he only adds a pitiful insult to his bad defence of a worse


without a right to re-build, her (Elizabeth's) underta-
king was null from the beginning."*


LI. In chapter III. page 319, Mr. Faber enters
upon a long dissertation, which corresponds to no part
of my work. He directs it against the primacy of the
holy see, and begins by justifying the separation under
Elizabeth, by the right, which he attributes to every
national Church to choose such a form of government
for herself, as she shall think proper; as if it could be
proper to choose for herself any other, than the one
which Jesus Christ himself traced out for the universal
Church. Bp. Jewel in his apology, justifies the schism
by the necessity of departing from a Church degen-
erated, and disfigured by her innovations, her idolatry,
and her errors, on the subject of the real presence;
thus designating as innovations, errors and idolatry,
the dogmas, which you have seen taught and practised
by the primitive Church.

Mr. Faber proceeds next to the supremacy; against
which he renews old attacks, a hundred times repel-
led, and with which, for that reason, I shall not here
occupy my attention. I shall only make some rapid
reflections on certain allegations contained in this

According to this author, and in opposition to the
universal belief of all parties, St. Peter is not to be
considered as the first Bishop of Rome, but St. Linus.
The proof he adduces is precisely the proof of the
contrary. For he insists that St. Linus was chosen
by the common consent of St. Peter and St. Paul.
But before the arrival of St. Paul, at Rome, St. Peter

* See vol. 1, p. 11, of the Discussion Jlmicale,2i very striking pas-
sage from Dod well quoted in a note. It seems to have been written
expressly to demonstrate the nullity of your ecclesiastical constitu-
tion through the incompetency of the Queen and her parliament.
It is also quoted in the 1st part ch. 1, No. 2, of the present Answer^


had founded the Church there, and governed it lor
some years. Therefore he was its first Bishop; and
St. Linus was called in the same manner as St. Ignatius
was of Antioch, the first Bishop of that See after St.
Peter. For this reason, St. Irenaeus speaking of St.
Clement's elevation to the See of Rome, styles him
the third Bishop from the death of the apostles.*

St. Irenaeus thus expresses himself on the See of
Rome: "Ad banc ecclesiam, propter potentiorem prin-
cipalitatem, necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam;
hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles." Mr. Faber
thus translates the passage in a note at p. 345: "To
the Roman Church, on account of its more potent
principality, it is necessary that every Church should
resort; that is to say, those of the faithful who dwell
on every side of it." The text does not say, those of
the faithful who dwell on every side of it; but the faith-
ful who are on every side. He had just said every
Church; therefore he adds likewise, all the faithful.
And in fact, in the time of St. Irenaeus, the Churches
of Smyrna and Corinth had already recurred to
Rome in affairs of importance. It is to be observed
that the word resort, which Mr. Faber prefers to
agree with, which we commonly employ, renders very
energetically the pre-eminence of the Roman see: for
people only resort to superior authority .f

* Post Jnacletum tertio loco ab apostolis, episcopatum sortitur Cle-
mens. Iren. adv. Haer. lib. III. c. 3, § 2, quoted by Mr. Faber.

t In a note, p. 346, Mr. Faber supposes that in the above pas-
sage St. Irenaeus recommends the circumjacent churches to resort
to Rome partly to inspect the autographs of the apostles, in case
of any doctrinal difficulty. Let him attend on this subject to the
following admirable observations of a celebrated German divine:
"Qui ecclesiam sine litteris scriptis fundavit, rnultisque annis con-
servavit, ipse etsine autographis veram in ea fidem, ac puram doc-
triuamconservavit servatque. Nee unquam Jesus Christus dixe-
rat, qui non legerit codicem sacrum, sed quinon audieret ecclesi-
am, sis quasi ethnicus et publicanus; nee unquam S. Paulus suis
mandavit, et codicem aut epistolas custodirent; bene tamen deposi-
tum fidei, quod tradidit ipsis."

B interim Epist. Cath. de lingua originali A*. Test. — Note of the


Tertullian, who was converted at Rome, towards
the middle of the- second century, and who lived af-
terwards under the primates of Africa, gives to the
bishop of Rome, the same title, which we give at this
day, that of sovereign pontiff. This Mr. Faber admits:
but he wrangles about St. Cyprian, and proves no-
thing after all, but that this learned and illustrious pri-
mate of Carthage admitted no infallibility in the Pope,
no more than Firmilian, the churches of the islands,
and of Africa. It is utterly false that St. Cyprian ever
opposed or disputed that Pope St. Stephen was the
successor of St. Peter. St. Cyprian wrote as follows
to Antonianus: "Cornelius has just been made bishop
of Rome, the place of Fabian, that is, that of Peter,
and the step of the sacerdotal chair having become
vacant." Nothing certainly could be more clear and

The passage of St. Cyprian, which Mr. Fab^r would
turn against the holy see, becomes even stronger in
its favour and more decisive, by his own explanation
of it. You will see this by the note at p. 348 of Mr.
Faber's book; "Cyprian speaks of one chair founded

upon Peter by the voice of the Lord By this chair,

he meant, not the see of Rome in particular, but tlie
chair of the collective united episcopate in general. " If
this be the case, it is most evident that not only the
chair of Rome, but all the episcopal chairs in the
world are founded upon Peter, and consequently upon
his successors. It is impossible to say more for the
universal supremacy of the see of Rome: see then how
error betrays itself!

The Greeks acknowledged the primacy of jurisdic-
tion in the Holy Father at the Council of Florence, and
more remotely in that of Lyons, as they had done from
the beginning of Christianity to the time of Photius.
On that acoount the deputies of the holy see presided
by universal "consent at the first Council of Nice, at
that of Constantinople, &c. For that reason St. Poly-


carp, at ninety years of age, crossed the seas, and went
to render an account to Pope Anicetus of the reasons
which attached the churches of Asia to the custom of
celebrating Easter on the 14th day of the moon: it was
moreover on that account that the Corinthians sent a
deputation, not to St. Clement, who was not then in
the chair of St. Peter, as Mr. Faber seems to suppose,
but to St. Anacletus, to induce him to interpose his au-
thority to repress the schism, which threatened their

LII. 1 must beg Mr. Faber to explain, why, in his
discussion of the claims of the holy see to supremacy,
from the Holy Scriptures, he chose to pass over in
silence the celebrated text; feed my lambs — -feed my
lambs, — feed my sheep. Here are most certainly uni-
versal superintendance and jurisdiction given to St.
Peter, and in his person to his successors. If Mr. Fa-
ber has any desire to be comprised in the flock of Je-
sus Christ, he must acknowledge the shepherd placed
at the head of it by our divine Saviour. If he persists
in refusing to acknowledge him, he voluntarily sepa-
rates himself from the sheep and lambs of Jesus Christ.
I seriously invite him, his readers and mine, to medi-
tate on this awful consequence, and apply it in earnest
to themselves.


LIII. To my great surprise, Mr. Faber appears at
p. 355 to represent me as a kind of plenipotentiary to
the Anglican Church to bring about a reconciliation
between her and ourselves. I am represented as un-
dertaking to promise for the Catholic Church, and
propose concessions on the one hand and adoptions on
the other. This reminds me of what Lord Chester-
field writes to his son, which I also recommend to
Mr. Faber: "See what you see; read what you read."
He did not read what he read; he read what he did


not and could not read in my book, for I have written
no such thing. Nevertheless I can hardly find fault
with Mr. Faber, since some of my own countrymen
have given into the same mistake, if I may credit re-
ports which I have heard. 1 must rectify the error of
both parties. I did then advance that though faith is
unchangeable, discipline is not so; and that if conces-
sions on the former were impossible, they might be
made on the latter. I named some of these possible
concessions, after the example of Bossuet, choosing,
as he did, such as would be best relished by Protes-

But it is one thing to say that such or such conces-
sions might be made, and another, to promise that
they will be "freely conceded." Here are two
questions: the first may be decided by any individual;
the second, by the Church alone. What are the arti-
cles of discipline susceptible of change? All. What
are those which it would be expedient to change, for
obtaining the return of a separated people? To the
Church alone belongs the right to answer.

For many years have I ardently desired the return
of the nations departed from unity. For many years
it has appeared to me that it would not be impossible
to bring them back: and my reading and reflections,
no less than my desires, have spontaneously turned to
an object so much wished for by all good men.

I have thought that the period in which we live,
presented more favourable chances of re-union among
Christians than any time preceding. On the one hand,
three centuries of commotions, of overthrows, of ani-
mated controversies, of intestine and cruel wars, have
fatigued the earth: on the other, the world is terrified
at the number of sects which the leading principle of
the reformation has produced, and after them, the in-
credulity, which has already caused so many revolu-
tions, and threatens nations and sovereigns with yet


more.* It must be evident that if temporal interests
formerly induced princes to adopt the reformation,
temporal interests of a higher nature involving their
very existence ought in these days to convince them,
that there can be no repose and no security for them,
but under the guardianship of unity, and of one su-
preme authority in matters of revelation. I have said
to myself many times, will not Christians at length listen
to their own experience? Will they condemn them-
selves to pass their days in dissentions and troubles; and
leave the same inheritance to their posterity? Re-
deemed by the same blood, regenerated by the same-
baptism, called to the same hopes, to the happiness of
another world, will they never give each other the
hand of union in this? Will they be forever seen se-
parated in communion, prayer, and worship? God our
Saviour declared that he would have on earth but one
sheepfold, one flock, one shepherd; and can they in
defiance of the order by him established, feel assurance
and delight in a multitude of flocks and sheepfolds?
No; there must either be a speedy end of this disorder,
or the termination of all human things.

In the midst of these reflections, I became very sen-
sible that to lead mankind to one belief, the first step
must be to prove its truth. I was perfectly aware of
the difficulty of such an undertaking; nor should I
have attempted to surmount it, had I reckoned solely
upon my own ability. My only confidence was in
Him, who had so long inspired me with the thought
and resolution. I never ceased to implore his assis-
tance and all-powerful grace in the course of my
researches and labours. Subsequently, the result was

•"Divisions in religion when multiplied, are sources of athe-
ism:" so said Bacon; and never was the assertion so fatally verifi-
ed as it has been in our days.

"By so many paradoxes, the foundations of our religion are shak-
en, the principle articles are called in question, heresies enter in
crowds into the churches of Christ, and the road is thrown open to
atheism." Sturmer, Ratio ineundce concordia An. 1579, p. 2,


submitted to enlightened friends: I wished it to be
placed before well informed persons of other commu-
nions. It was so; and not always without approbation,
and some effect. An antagonist has at length arisen,
who certainly is not wanting in penetration of mind,
facility of language, or elegance of style; why am I
not permitted to add, in sincerity, love of union and
experience in matters of theology! By turns he extols
the character of the author, with whom he is unac-
quainted, and abuses the book which is before him.
He is wrong in both: in his commendations,- which un-
happily the author does not in any degree deserve:
and in his critique upon the Discussion Amicale, which
this answer will, I flatter myself, have placed above

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 23

Online LibraryJ. F. M. (Jean François Marie) TrévernAn answer to the Rev. G. S. Faber's Difficulties of Romanism → online text (page 21 of 23)