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The history of the gospels would become an historical romance, recommending for imitation such parts of the character of Jesus Christ as particular people might like, with such explanations and modifications as particular tastes might require, and this would run through the whole system. In some minds God the Father might typify or personify force guided by intelligence; Jesus Christ, Human Nature, glorified but struggling; the Virgin Mary the feminine side of Human Nature, and so on. Thus Catholicism would gradually be converted to Positivism, and supply the poetical version of scientific results which Comte, in his dry and essentially clumsy fashion, wished for and tried to provide. In short, as paganism, having died down into a set of ceremonies and myths, was replaced by dogmatic Christianity, with its explanations of human life and destiny, and its farreaching ecclesiastical organisation to superintend and develop it, so dogmatic Christianity, having been confuted by science, history, and criticism, having, in a word, been shown not to be true, would take up the place of its old rival and oppressor, and idealise and poetise the evils of life, striving, like the Christmas snow in Milton's Ode

O'er her naked shame,

Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of virgin white to throw.

Would this be a great improvement, a thing to look forward to with enthusiasm, or to accept if it came with satisfaction? The question is not one to be answered in a moment or in a sentence, and it would be specially foolish to try to do so because the question implies the occurrence of one of those changes which is of such enormous range, and dependent on such a vast number of conditions all connected together, that no sort of argumentation about it is likely, in any appreciable degree, to affect the chance of its happening, or to quicken or retard its occurrence. Some things, however, may be said about it. I am inclined on the whole to think that it will happen, not indeed formally, but practically, and I am further disposed to think it will bring about an improvement, as cowpox, though not in itself an advantage, is better than smallpox. To some extent indeed it has already happened. An immense number of Roman Catholics care almost nothing about the dogmas of the Church, most people care for Church doctrines rather for political and social reasons than for any others. The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, has ceased to interest the great mass of mankind, and it is difficult to imagine in these days a controversy about original sin or the sacraments attracting much attention.

Still, the practical admission that the dogmas of the Church of Rome are not true would have a great effect, for of all existing religions the Roman Catholic is by far the most dogmatic. Some of the Protestant forms of the Christian religion may be more strictly

logical. The Greek Church has its own special position, and its highest authorities will declare that the Popes of Rome were the first Rationalists, and will on inquiry be found to have more to say on the subject than most people would suppose; but, be all this as it may, it is clear beyond all possibility of doubt that, to the part of the Christian world most important to us, the Church of Rome is the champion of dogmatism-of the belief, that is, that certain definite propositions about religious matters are absolutely true, are revealed by God, and are so fully and closely grasped by the Church, that it possesses the power of deciding all controversies as they arise by reference to them. The fact that this theory is bad upon the face of it, because it either assumes the existence of God, which is a petitio principii, or proves it, which is an appeal to reason, as an authority superior to the Church, does not, so far as popular opinion and impression go, lower the position of the Roman Catholic Church as the great champion of dogmatism.

55

If the transformation of opinion,' which, Mr. Mivart says, 'is in store for the Catholic world in the domains of history and criticism,' is fully carried out, this will be at an end. The champion will be a champion no more. In relation to history, criticism, and science, and their teachers, the Church will be

The desolator desolate,
The victor overthrown,
The arbiter of others' fate,

A suppliant for its own.

To own that the function of a spiritual ruler is one which it cannot perform, that the function to which it is adequate is that of a repeater of old fables, a performer of curious old ceremonies more gorgeous though less picturesque than the passion play at Ammergau, may be a healthy humiliation for the Church and its priesthood, and may be beneficial to mankind, but it would be more bitter than any ordinary persecution if it did not come as gradually and imperceptibly as great changes generally do.

It is difficult to imagine a more painful position than that of an earnest and sincere man, who, having undertaken to be the exponent and vindicator of such a system under a real belief in its truth, gradually comes to believe that in every one of its essential features he is constrained to admit it to be liable to refutation by processes of which he admits the validity. With what terror and shrinking must he inquire how the main points of such books as those of Strauss and Renan are to be dealt with; how pleased he must feel when slips and errors in their constructive efforts are pointed out; and how bitter must be the quiet reflection, made deep down, that these things do not affect the force of their destructive theories. How hard it must be to join with and repeat all that Colenso and many others have

5 II. 51.

1887 MR. MIVART'S MODERN CATHOLICISM.

597

said about the Old Testament, and to try in vain to draw any sort of line between these well-known criticisms and those made in the same spirit and by the same method about the New Testament ! How strange must it be at one and the same time to contend that the doctrine of the creation of the world, that of the origin of the human race, and the story of the flood are to be rejected because biology and geology and so on contradict them, but that the historical assertions of the Apostles' Creed are a true narrative of the most important events that ever happened!

But this is not all. It is probably not the worst part of the humiliation which Mr. Mivart's theories prepare for himself and for the body to which he belongs. The attitude assumed by Roman Catholics in England for the whole of the last generation has uniformly been one which such speculations as these make incredibly absurd. The great controversial weapon of Cardinal Newman, for instance, was always the dilemma :-Catholics, he used to argue, are consistent; Atheists are consistent; but you Protestants are wretched daubers with untempered mortar. You try to sit upon two stools. You cannot make up your minds between faith and reason. You are Laodiceans, neither hot nor cold, and deserve the same treatment. If Mr. Mivart's views are correct, all this applies properly to the Roman Catholic Church. It is the Catholics who halt between faith and reason, who are inconsistent, who daub with untempered mortar, who believe all sorts of things relating to both faith and morals, which they have to give up at the orders of science, and yet refuse, on other matters of the same kind, to accept science as a guide. Moreover, this inconsistency is all the more marked and glaring because it exists in a body which claims infallibility. The truth I take to be that neither Protestants nor Catholics were ever consistent. The very earliest attempts at any sort of systematic theology were essentially compromises between faith and reason-attempts to use Comte's famous expression about Bossuet: 'De faire de l'ordre avec du désordre.' Whatever may be said to the contrary, alternatives in such a matter as this are impossible. The equation has only one root, and not two. One way of looking at the subject only is possible in the long run. It is that ordinary human reason in the last resort is the supreme judge of all controversies whatever. No one but a madman can reject the use of reason. No one who admits its authority in any department of affairs can deny its absolute supremacy in all, as the one guide to truth. That the prevalence of Mr. Mivart's views will inflict cruel humiliations on the Roman Catholic clergy and controversialists appears to me to be certain; but that such a humiliation will be good for the world at large, I think equally certain. Whether it will be good for those who feel it depends on the way in which they take it.

Notwithstanding this it must be observed that though, from the VOL. XXII.-No. 128.

SS

logical. The Greek Church has its own special position, and its highest authorities will declare that the Popes of Rome were the first Rationalists, and will on inquiry be found to have more to say on the subject than most people would suppose; but, be all this as it may, it is clear beyond all possibility of doubt that, to the part of the Christian world most important to us, the Church of Rome is the champion of dogmatism-of the belief, that is, that certain definite propositions about religious matters are absolutely true, are revealed by God, and are so fully and closely grasped by the Church, that it possesses the power of deciding all controversies as they arise by reference to them. The fact that this theory is bad upon the face of it, because it either assumes the existence of God, which is a petitio principii, or proves it, which is an appeal to reason, as an authority superior to the Church, does not, so far as popular opinion and impression go, lower the position of the Roman Catholic Church as the great champion of dogmatism.

If the transformation of opinion,' which, Mr. Mivart says, 'is in store for the Catholic world in the domains of history and criticism,' 5 is fully carried out, this will be at an end. The champion will be a champion no more. In relation to history, criticism, and science, and their teachers, the Church will be

The desolator desolate,

The victor overthrown,
The arbiter of others' fate,

A suppliant for its own.

To own that the function of a spiritual ruler is one which it cannot perform, that the function to which it is adequate is that of a repeater of old fables, a performer of curious old ceremonies more gorgeous though less picturesque than the passion play at Ammergau, may be a healthy humiliation for the Church and its priesthood, and may be beneficial to mankind, but it would be more bitter than any ordinary persecution if it did not come as gradually and imperceptibly as great changes generally do.

It is difficult to imagine a more painful position than that of an earnest and sincere man, who, having undertaken to be the exponent and vindicator of such a system under a real belief in its truth, gradually comes to believe that in every one of its essential features he is constrained to admit it to be liable to refutation by processes of which he admits the validity. With what terror and shrinking must he inquire how the main points of such books as those of Strauss and Renan are to be dealt with; how pleased he must feel when slips and errors in their constructive efforts are pointed out; and how bitter must be the quiet reflection, made deep down, that these things do not affect the force of their destructive theories. How hard it must be to join with and repeat all that Colenso and many others have

5 II. 51.

1887 MR. MIVART'S MODERN CATHOLICISM.

599

satisfaction in the power of the Church to give it. But how can it be given if, as Mr. Mivart teaches, the Church itself is an authority sadly liable to err, and which actually has erred again and again, just like all other human institutions in matters both of faith and morals, and if it has to be set right continually, in all the matters which interest it most, by appeals to science, to history, to criticism, any one of which may at any time set it right in a matter so important as the creation of the world or the historical truth of the Apostles' Creed? How can such an authority as this give peace or rest to anyone? It can give nothing whatever but a little sentimental play. It is asked for bread, and it gives a doll. Moreover, it would have only one doll to give amongst many. To say nothing of Mahommedan and Buddhist wares, which have their own attractions, there would be every opportunity for Greek and Protestant versions of the legend, which could easily be so arranged as to suit particular populations much better than the Romish one. The Church of England, even if disestablished, could adapt itself quite as easily to the various discoveries of history and science as the Church of Rome, and with an infinitely better grace.

If some very distinguished members of the Church of England, living or lately dead, could be or could have been put into a witness-box and closely cross-examined as to their real, deliberate opinions, it would probably be found that they not only acknowledged the truth of the principles advocated by Mr. Mivart-which indeed most of them notoriously, and even ostentatiously, did and do—but were well aware that they involved all the practical consequences which are pointed out above; yet some of them held, and others still hold, an honoured place in the Church of England, and, without giving any particular scandal, discharge in it duties of the highest importance, and give advice, and make exhortations, which are highly appreciated by a large number of important persons. To me I admit-probably to some others their presence in the Church, their participation in all its services, is more or less a moral miracle-to use the phrase by which Dr. Pusey is said to have described certain matters recorded without blame, if not with applause, in the Old Testament; but their courtesy, their scholarship, their many accomplishments, their wholly unblemished personal characters, were and are usually regarded as making them ornaments and supports of the Church of England, and guides by whose advice its inevitable change, from being the spiritual ruler of the nation to being a guide into practical philosophy and philanthropy, might be effected cautiously and safely.

Far be it from me to presume to judge such men. Far be it from me to presume to judge Mr. Mivart, or the Roman Catholics in general, if they adopt his views, or even permit the expression of them to pass uncensured. If Mr. Mivart and others give up the point that the Roman Catholic religion is true, if they admit that it can and

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