John Henry Newman.

Essays, critical and historical (Volume 2) online

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TURY 249



XV. JOHN DAVISON . . . . . . -375




/ S4 , 8

IN his recent work on the Apostolic Succession and
the English Orders, Mr. Perceval has clone us a ser-
vice, which was very much needed, and had never been
attempted. Many living writers have treated of the
Apostolical Succession as well as he ; but no one but he
has had the opportunity, and been at the pains, of ex-
hibiting to the general reader the evidence of the fact
of the Succession in the English Church. We are
referring tc the elaborate Appendix to his Volume, in
which he has brought together a great number of docu-
ments and tables illustrative of some of the more im-
portant points in the history of the spiritual descent of
r our existing bishops and clergy from the Apostles. He
^begins by enumerating the chief objections which the
r\ "Roman Catholics have urged against our Succession, as
1 passing through Archbishop Parker and his colleagues,
and he laws before us some chief portions of the evi-
dence in its favour, presenting us with the records of
Parker's consecration as contained in the registers at
Lambeth and in the library of Corpus Christi College,
Cambridge, and with the offices for consecration and
ordination, according to the Antenicene, Eastern,
Ancient Western, Coptic, and Queen Elizabeth's Ritual.
VOL. II. i

2 Catholicity of the

Next, he has printed a list of between 400 and 500 Eng-
lish consecrations, from Crahmer and his consecratcrs, in-
clusive, down to the present time, containing name, see,
date of consecration, and names of consecrate >rs in the
case of each bishop. After this we have the respective
Episcopal descents of Parker and Pole traced back, by
way of contrast, for four steps ; by which it appears
that the proof from existing records of the transmission
of the apostolical commission to Pole, is far less complete
than what is producible on the side of Parker. Mr. Per-
ceval next traces up the Episcopal descent of the present
Archbishop of Canterbury for four antecedent steps, all
the consecrations being in this case known, and finds, to
use his own words, that " in transmitting the apostolical
commission to the present Archbishop of Canterbury
there were, in the first step, four bishops concerned ; in
the second, twelve ; in the third, twenty-seven; in the
fourth, about fifty; nearly enough to fill all the English
dioceses twice over ; so that, not a single consecration
here and there, but all the consecrations in England for
successive generations, must be supposed to have failed,
before the objection can be worthy of consideration, that
the failure of the due consecration of any one single bishop
in a line would destroy the whole theory." — P. 218.

Other tables are added ; among which not the least in-
teresting is one containing the consecrations of the non-
jurors, the last bishop of whom died as lately as 1805.


We do trust and believe that the question of English
Orders is now settled once for all. If, indeed, members
of our Church again forget the great privilege therein
involved, as they have forgotten it in no slight measure
more than once, then indeed the whole controversy will

Anglica?i Church. ->

have to be run through again, as lately, at a miserable
waste of time, labour, and peace. The world will become
ignorant of the grounds on which we claim the privilege ;
and will require fresh discussion upon its nature, its pro-
bability, its evidence, and its place in the Anglican
system. We hope better things of our Church than to
anticipate such an event ; and at all events the con-
troversy is at an end for the present. And so our oppo-
nents seem to consider ; for they evince a disposition to
concede to us the Succession " for argument's sake ;" or
in other words they find that it is not safe or tenable in
argument to deny it, since what they call " for argument's
sake " really means " for their own sake." But though
we have gained this point, it does not follow that we
have driven the enemy from the field and put an end to
the war. There is another important and difficult post
which the Roman party have not yet surrendered, and
from which we must dislodge them. Mr. Perceval does
scarcely more than refer to it, nor does it properly fall
in his way. That our Orders are good in themselves is
indisputable ; but still they may be given and continued
in schism ; our Church may be a true but a schismatical
branch of the Catholic body, though ever so legitimately
descended from the Apostles. She may at present have
a bar upon her ordinances, Sacraments as well as Orders,
which deprives them of grace, as a son may be really a
son yet disinherited, or a man in a fainting fit or in
derangement is still a man, yet unable to use his func-
tions. This is a ground which Roman writers have very
commonly taken up, and with considerable advantage.
Our writers, on the other hand, have not discussed it
with the exactness and fulness which it requires at the
hands of those who profess to defer to the opinions of
the Fathers. We are not unmindful of what our learned

4 Catholicity of the

champions have done long ago ; but every age has its
own character, its own mode of stating things, its own
exigencies ; and cannot use, or at least cannot be con-
tent with, the controversial efforts of a former time.

The objection which we have in mind, concisely
stated, is this : on the one hand, that unity is the tenure
of divine favour ; that communion with our brethren is
the means of communion with our Lord and Saviour ;
that the Church is not only Apostolic, but Catholic ; that
schism cuts off the fountains of grace ; and that estrange-
ment from the Christian world is schism ; and, on the
other, that in matter of fact our Church is emphatically
in a state of estrangement, having intercourse with no
other Christian body in any part of the world, except-
ing her own dependencies and offshoots. This is the
point, which deserves, as we think, to be attentively
considered ; we make no pretences and have no hopes
of doing justice to it in the pages of a Review ; yet it is
something to direct attention to it, and so much we
propose to do in the pages which follow.

Now the first step towards duly answering the objec-
tion is to enter into it and master it ; and the best way
of effecting this is to put it before our minds as strongly
as we can. With this view, then, we shall first of all
endeavour to make a strong statement of our opponents'
case, and then bring forward what means we have for
overthrowing it. And perhaps we shall best begin by
setting down the pleadings on the one side and the
other in the form of dialogue, which shall be con-
ducted favourably to the Church of Rome, so as to
bring matters to an issue. We are promising a great
deal, but, our intentions being good, we have a sort of

Anglican Church. 5

claim upon the kind feeling of all upholders of the
Catholicity of the English Church.

The Roman Catholic then begins thus : — There is but
One true Church, and its characteristic, both in Scripture
and in the Fathers, is, that it should be in many countries,
or rather all over the earth. Thus it differs from what it
was during the Dispensation of the Law ; then it was
one in one country ; under the Gospel it is one in many

Anglo- Catholic. — I grant ; and that it is schism to
separate from it, and that schism is a state of sin.

Rom. — The flock of Christ is one, not two flocks ;
though in many countries, is still but one flock, as sheep
moving in a body over a plain. If there be two flocks
claiming to be the true flock, it cannot be both of them.
If it is the one, it is not the other ; if the other, it is not
the one. It cannot be both the Church of Rome and
the Church of England ; if the English Church is true,
the Roman is a pretence ; and the English is a pretence,
if the Roman is true.

Angl. — This does not follow: a flock of sheep that
straggles is still one flock. One part may be on one side
of the hedge and yet the other on the other.

Rom. — A flock of sheep may spread widely and yet be
one ; but they would cease to be one if they formed into
parties shunning and worrying each other. It is said " a
house divided against itself cannot stand ; " if both you
and we are the Catholic Church, the Church is falling or
h;is even fallen.

Angl. — We do not differ from each other in all things ;
we agree together in fundamentals, and where you agree
with us, there we do not act hostilely towards you.

Rom. — On the contrary, you, as a body, oppose and
denounce us, as a body, in all possible ways ; and we too

6 Catholicity of the

oppose and denounce you. Let us look at facts, and
not speak by book. And you are small, we are large ;
therefore we, not you, are the Church.

Angl. — If we two cannot be at peace, the worse for
you ; for your teaching is corrupt, and ours is pure.

Rom. — No, we preach the whole gospel, and you halve

Angl. — Our teaching is the true, because it is the
primitive ; yours is not true, because it is novel.

Rom. — Our teaching is the true, for it is everywhere the
same; yours has no warrant, for it is but local and private.
Angl. — We go by Antiquity ; that is, by the Apostles.
Ancient consent is our standard of faith.

Rom. — We go by Catholicity. Universal consent is
our standard of faith.

Angl. — You are cut off from the old Fathers.
Rom. — And you are cut off from the present living

Here each disputant has a strong point ; our strong
point is the argument from the past, that of the Romanists
is the argument from the present. It is a fact, however
it is to be explained, that Rome has added to the Creed ;
and it is a fact, however it be justified, that we are
estranged from the great body of Christians over the
world ; and each of these facts is at first sight a grave
difficulty in the respective systems to which they belong
The difficulty in the Roman view is as great as can
well be conceived. The state of the case is this : —
Scripture declares that there is one faith, that it is once
for all delivered to the saints, that it is a deposit and is
to be jealously guarded and transmitted. It gives in
various places the particular articles of this faith, corre-
sponding pretty nearly when put together to the articles
of the Apostles' Creed. This Creed we find in substance

Anglican Church. 7

in all the early churches, used at baptism as the substance
of the revealed message brought to us in the Gospel, the
privilege of every Christian and the foundation of the
Church ; and declared by the Fathers, who speak of it,
in various ages and countries, to be sacred and unalter-
able, level to the most unlearned, sufficient for the most
profound, the framework of faith, admitting indeed of
development and enucleation, but ever intended to pre-
serve the outline and the proportions with which it was
originally given. Moreover, when controversies arose,
such as the Arian, this rule was prominently insisted on,
not only "keep to what you have been taught," but
" keep to what has been ever taught, keep to the old
and first paths." Further, this Creed did remain thus
inviolate till the time of the Deutero-Nicene Council.
a.d. 787, when, for the first time, a General Council, or
what is called so, made an article of faith, in addition to
not in development of, the Creed ; * and it did so under
the following significant circumstances ; first, this said
General Council was the first of the Councils which rested
the proof of its decree on grounds short of Scripture ;
the first that violated the doctrine of adherence to the
practice or received opinion of Antiquity ; the first
which was held in a divided state of the Church, as the
events before it and after it show ; held with protests
both from east and west ; and enforced not without
something like rebellion at first sight on the part of the
Pope against the Imperial Power. Such is the history of

* [It is surely a paradox to say that the simple words of the Seventh
General Council in 787, " Credentes in unum Deum, in Trinitate collauda-
tum, honorabiles ejus imagines salutamus ; Qui sic non habent, anathema
sint," or the Tridentine words, "Imagines Christi in teinplis habendas, eisque
debitum honorem et venerationem impertiendam," are sufficient to constitute
an extrinsic addition to the (reed, and are not a mere carrying out in wor-
ship, dI faith in our crucified Lord, and in the communion of saints. J

8 Catholicity of the

the departure itself from the primitive theory concerning
the Creed ; such was the first step. Now what has it
issued in ? in an assemblage of doctrines, which, as was
observed above, whether right or wrong, have scarcely
closer connection with the doctrines whether of the
primitive Creed or the primitive Church than the doctrines
of the Gospel have with those of the Law. In Antiquity,
the main aspect in the economy of redemption comprises
Christ, the Son of God, the Author and Dispenser of all
grace and pardon, the Church His living representative,
the sacraments her instruments, bishops her rulers, their
collective decisions her voice, and Scripture her standard
of truth. In the Roman schools,* we find St. Mary and
the Saints the prominent objects of regard and dispensers
of mercy, purgatory or else indulgences the means of
obtaining it, the Pope the ruler and teacher of the
Church, and miracles the warrant of doctrine. As to the
doctrines of Christ's merits and eternal life and death,
these are points not denied (God forbid !) but taken for
granted, and passed by in order to make way for others
of more present, pressing, and lively interest. That a cer-
tain change, then, in objective and external religion has
come over the Latin, nay, and in a measure the Greek,
Church, we consider to be a plain historical fact ; a
change indeed not so great as is common Protestantism,
for that involves a radical change of inward temper and
principle as well, as indeed its adherents are sometimes
not slow to remind us, but a change sufficiently startling
to recall to our minds, with very unpleasant sensations,

• [Of these heads of accusation, the only one which will be allowed by
Catholics is that "the Pope is the ruler and teacher of the Church ;" but
this cannot be said to be a mere mediaeval or modern doctrine ; it seems
to liave been claimed as true and apostolic from the first in the Roman
Church itself ; vide the history of Popes Victor, Stephen, and Dionysius.]

Anglican Church. 9

the words of the Apostle, about preaching any other
Gospel besides that which has been received.

So much on the difficulty on the side of Rome ; now
let us consider the difficulty on our side : it is this. The
Church was intended to be one kingdom or polity in all
lands : this is its mark or note. Now there is a body
mainly answering to this description, the communion of
Rome, lineally descended from the ancient Church, and
in possession of her territory. If there be a Church now,
in nature and office like the ancient Church, and like her
image in prophecy, the Roman communion, it will be
urged, and nothing but the Roman, is it. If there be
Notes of the Church now, such as are given in prophecy
and were fulfilled in Antiquity, she has them. If schism
is separation from the body of Christians, we are schis-
matical. If schism now be what schism was formerly, we
are excommunicated from the grace of the Gospel.


This being the state of the case on both sides, divines
of our Church are forced, as if from necessity, to make
light of separation from Christendom, or to maintain
that the few may be right and the many wrong ; and
divines of the Church of Rome are forced, by a like
necessity, to make light of the judgment of Antiquity,
or to maintain that Revelation is progressive, and that
Christians now know more than the Fathers. Thus
Archbishop Laud says to Fisher, "As for the number
and worth of men, they are no necessary concluders for
truth. Not number ; for who would be judged by the
many ? the time was when the Arians were too many for
the orthodox." — P. 302. His antagonist, on the other
hand, says, " We acknowledge all due respect to the
Fathers, and as much (to speak modestly) as any of our

IO Catholicity oj the

adversaries' party. But they must pardon us, if we prefer
the general interpretation of the present Church, before
tJie result of any man's particular fancy." — Stillingflccfs
Grounds, i. v. § 19. On the one hand, Anglo-Catholics
say, " Even though we were in schism, as we are not,
such separation would not be disadvantageous, when
faith is in danger ; " and Roman Catholics say, " Even
though we had innovated, as we have not, such inno-
vation is not in error, when the Church is the author of
it." Such is the difficulty on either side of the con-
troversy. There seems to be but the alternative of
saying, on the one hand, that the Church Catholic can
go wrong ; on the other, that the faith of ages may be
remodelled. It is a difficulty meeting every inquirer,
which he must fairly look in the face and be content to
begin with. And it is felt to be a difficulty by the two
parties in the controversy ; by the Anglo-Catholic, as
shown in the anxious endeavour of our divines, till the
course of events made it hopeless, to fraternize with the
Protestants of the Continent, which, considering the men
who have evinced it, is quite unaccountable till we come
to see what their sore point in the discussion was their
separation from Christendom ; and by Roman Catholics,
as is abundantly evidenced by their shufflings and shiftings
to and fro on the question, whether they do or do not keep
to Antiquity. On this subject it is plainly impossible to
get an intelligible answer from them ; whether they have-
added to the articles of faith or not, go by the Fathers
or not, keep to the ancient creed or not, — what they hold,
what they do not hold, what is the true sense of theii
decrees, what their practical interpreters, and what the
limits of interpretation.

J *.ut now, as to the respective views themselves, Roman
and Anglican, the maintainer of the former has this ad-

Anglican Church. 1 1

vantage, that the fact which he alleges against us, want
of Catholicity, is far more level to the apprehension of
men in general than that which we allege against him,
want of primitiveness in doctrine, while the logical force
of his fact is such as plausibly to throw discredit upon
our contrary fact. It is very obvious to the whole world
that the English Church is separated from the rest of
Christendom ; it is not evident, except to a very few,
that the faith of Rome is an addition to the primitive
Again, suspicion is thrown on the allegation that it is an
addition, by the very fact, unquestionable as it is, that far
the greater part of Christendom denies that allegation.
Our argument then has to sustain the disadvantage both
of the certainty in fact, and the apparent cogency in
reasoning, of their argument. And while the argument
of the Romanists is thus practically efficient, it has a
simplicity in its form which is very plausible. It
provides for the special difficulty which we urge against
their religious system, before we bring it ; whereas ours
does not similarly account for and dispose of the
difficulty which they bring against our system. Roman
Catholics urge against us that we are separated from
Christendom ; now the fact of our keeping to the primi-
tive faith had no tendency whatever to bring about their
deflection from it, that is, to explain how it comes to
pass that we are practically estranged from the great
Christian body. On the other hand, when we in turn
urge against them that they have added to the faith,
they are not unwilling in a certain sense to grant it ;
they account for it by referring it to a cause recognized
in their system, — to the power which they maintain is
possessed by the great Christian body in matters of faith,
of developing the faith. Their alleged fact, that they
are the Church Catholic, serves to account for our

1 2 Catholicity of the

alleged fact, that they believe more than the ancients
We bring little against them which is not at once solved
on the supposition of their assumption being true ; they
bring a charge against us which remains just where it
was, though our assumption be ever so much granted.
It is still a difficulty how the great body of Christians
should have gone wrong, even granting our assumption
that they have ; it is no difficulty that the great body
should have added to the faith, when we grant their
assumption that they have the power.*

Yet, in spite of all this, they are in a difficulty, even
in this portion of their theory, when it is narrowly
considered, — not to go to other portions, which do not
here come into notice. Allowing the Church Catholic
ever so much power over the faith, allowing that it may
add what it will, provided it does not contradict what
has been determined in former times, yet let us come
to the plain question, Does the Church, according to
Romanists, know more now than the Apostles knew ?
Their theory seems to be that the whole faith was pre-
sent in the minds of the Apostles, nay, of all saints at all
times, but in great measure as a matter of mere temper,
feeling, and unconscious opinion, that is, implicitly,
not in the way of exact statements and in an intellec-
tual form. All men certainly hold a number of truths,
and act on them, without knowing it ; when a question
is asked about them, then they are obliged to reflect
what their opinion has ever been, and they bring before
themselves and assent to doctrines which before were
but latent within them. We have all heard of men
changing to so-called Unitarianism, and confessing on a

* [" I am very far more sure thai England is in scliism than that tbf
Roman additions to the Primitivi <y nut be developments."

M.. y 4, 1843. Vid . Apologia, 1841- 1S45.]

Anglican Church. 13

review of themselves that they had been Unitarians all
along without knowing it, till some accident tore the
bandage off their eyes. In like manner, the Roman
Catholics, we suppose, would maintain that the Apostles
were implicit Tridentines ; that the Church held in the
first age what she holds now ; only that heresy, by rais-
ing questions, has led to her throwing her faith into
dogmatic shape, and has served to precipitate truths
which before were held in solution. Now this is all very
well in the abstract, but let us return to the point, as to
what the Apostles held and did, and what they did not.
Does the Romanist mean, for instance, to tell us that St.
Paul the Apostle, when he was in perils of robbers or
perils by the sea, offered up his addresses to St. Mary,
and vowed some memorial to her, if she would be pleased
"deprecari pro illo filium Dei"?* Does he mean to
say that the same Apostle, during that period of his life
when as yet he was not " perfect " or had " attained,"
was accustomed to pray that the merits of St. John the
Baptist should be imputed to him ? Did he or did he
not hold that St. Peter could give indulgences to
shorten the prospective sufferings of the Corinthians in
purgatory ? We do not deny that St. Paul certainly
does bring out his thoughts only in answer to express
questions asked, and according to the occasion ; or that
St. John has written a Gospel, on the one hand later, on

* [No ; he need noi so mean. " It is sometimes asked, ' Why do not
the sacred writers mention our Lady's greatness?' I answer, she was or
may have been alive when the Apostles and the Evangelists wrote ; there

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanEssays, critical and historical (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 37)