« הקודםהמשך »
task; it was easy to show that from the time of St. Augustine, every Bishop of Rome has reversed, not only the decisions of his predecessors, but, in many cases, his own; and that these decisions and reversals had reference to the most important doctrines, and the most important measures, exercising a powerful influence upon the welfare of the Church, and the purity of her doctrine. It was easy to show that Origen, Paul of Samosata, Arius, Athanasius, Pelagius, Theodorus of Mopsuestia, Theodoretus, Abaillard, and many others, had been alternately condemned and acquitted, even by general councils, with the concurrence of the Popes; it was easy to show that the sentences of Petrus Lombardus, the writings of Galilei, the works of Bellarmin, the Ecclesiastical History of Natalis Alexander, which were all at a later period commended by Rome, and adopted in her theological colleges, were at one time in the index of forbidden books. It was as easy to show, that with regard to the adoption of most important legislative measures, such as the suppression of the order of Jesuits, a change of purpose has been manifested, which is incompatible with the idea of an infallibility in matters of fact.
But a little consideration will show that this question, so artfully raised, and so strenuously maintained, does not, after all, materially affect the real point at issue. An immense majority of Roman Catholic divines have always admitted the truth of the distinction pleaded by the Hermesians; nay, the infallibility of the Pope, even on points of doctrine, has been denied by many to be a dogma of their Church. The Irish bishops, in their celebrated declaration of 1826, assert that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, and that they are not bound to believe, that the Pope is infallible. In the Catechism of the distinctive doctrines of Catholics and Protestants, published in 1844, under the sanction of the Archbishop-coadjutor of Cologne, the great mover in Germany against Hermesianism, it is as distinctly stated, that “ the Church has never decided that the Pope is infallible.” Bossuet relates, that the doctrine of the infallibility was first asserted at the council of Florence, and Fleury names the Dominican Cajetan as its author.
But the question for true members of the Church of Rome, is not whether the Pope is infallible, but whether they are to receive his decisions as if he were. · The Church,' says Count Joseph de Maistre, who has placed the subject in its true light,
must, in some way or other, be governed just as every other * society, otherwise there would no
longer be any catholicity, or 'any unity. The governing power is, then, by its very nature, • infallible—that is to say, absolute; otherwise it would no longer
govern. The question is not merely whether the Supreme Pontiff is infallible, but whether he must be infallible.' The Pope, according to the present constitution of the Church of Rome, is the governing power, the last tribunal, from which there is, and can be, no appeal; and, therefore, whether his judgment is really correct or not, absolute submission is the duty of all, who would not renounce her communion. Of such submission an illustrious example was afforded by Fénélon, who retracted without reserve all that had been condemned, and submitted himself implicitly to the decision of the papal chair.
And on this view of the subject there can be no distinction between doctrine and fact. Under every government disputed facts, as well as disputed doctrines, must be submitted to some tribunal, from which, if unity is to be preserved, there can be no appeal ; and, the legality of the tribunal once recognised, it is the duty of all the subjects of that government to aid in the accomplishment of its decrees.
And in this point of duty the last Hermesians' have signally failed. That they should labour for a reversal of the papal decree,---that they should send a deputation to Rome to counteract the influence of the supposed calumniators of Hermes, and to open the eyes of the Pope to the real nature of the Hermesian system,- was perfectly just and natural; but that, until such a reversal was pronounced, and even after their attempt to convince the Pope of his mistake, they should refuse submission, was a manifest breach of the duty, which is due from every sincere Romanist to the supreme ruler of his Church.
The Archbishop of Cologne, the austere and venerable Clement Augustus, Baron Droste zu Vischering, in the execution of his duty of suppressing the Hermesian doctrine, resorted to the following measures: 1. He addressed a circular to all the priests in the town of Bonn, instructing them what answers to return to any questions which might be proposed to them, respecting the Hermesian writings, in the confessional. 2. He published eighteen theses, to which he required the subscription of all the clergy in his diocese. 3. He refused to give his sanction to the courses of lectures announced by the Catholic professors at the University of Bonn. This last measure was followed by the most important consequences; it interrupted the career of all theological students, and concerning the more interesting question of mixed marriages, involved the Archbishop in difficulties with the Prussian government, which ended in his forced resignation of his see: not however, without the admission on the part of Prussia, that the measures adopted for the suppression of Hermesianism were entirely justified, as well as perfectly legal. The new archbishop persevered accordingly in the same course; the negotiations have been carried on during several years, and all the disciples of Hermes have finally submitted, except two of the professors of Bonn, Braun and Achter
felt, who, with the concurrence of the Prussian government have now been deprived of their offices.
The last work upon our list is the most important among the numerous publications, which have appeared in defence of these, perhaps, very conscientious men, but certainly very bad Catholics. All that has been demanded of them amounts to a simple declaration, that they sincerely and heartily subject themselves to the whole and to every part of the papal decrees respecting the Hermesian writings. The unfortunate professors declare that their consciences will not permit them to comply with this demand, inasmuch as the expressions in the 'breve' imply that the doctrines promulgated by Hermes were erroneous, and that his writings contain heretical statements. This, they say, is contrary to fact; a fact of which the Pope is not an infallible judge, and to his judgment of which they cannot therefore with a good conscience submit.
“Whoever holds with us the firm conviction, that Hermes was not the man which he is described to be in the ' breve,' and that the condemned doctrines are not in reality contained in his works, cannot sign the required declaration, without either making use of a mental reservation, or directly bearing false witness."-P. 6.
Certainly the • last Hermesians' have inconveniently tender consciences; but as certainly they have taken the very worst method of convincing the Pope that they do not share the dangerous error which is imputed to Hermes. Their whole argument is, in fact, the very clearest exemplification of the Hermesian method. Their formal acquiescence in a certain sentence is demanded; that sentence is founded upon the solemn decision of the very highest authority to which an appeal can be made; an authority to which, by the very constitution of their Church, they are bound to defer. But they dissent from the decision; they refuse compliance with the sentence; and to what higher tribunal do they appeal ? To private judgment. Each person, they maintain, must yield or withhold his signature, according as he holds, or not, the individual conviction, that the writings of Hermes contain the imputed errors. What is this but the same principle, which has been used to justify every act of schism, and to swell the ranks of every leader of dissent ? Liberty of conscience is the cry, with which authority has always been resisted; and among the Taper and Tadpole school so well described by the author of Coningsby, a "good cry' may sometimes bring a temporary success.
But surely every branch of the Catholic Church must be animated by higher motives; or the result will inevitably be that fatal indifference to doctrinal truth, which has speedily become the curse of every part of Christendom, in which individual conviction has taken the place of faith, and liberty of conscience been substituted for a willing obedience.
NO. XLVII. —N.S.
ART. IV.-1. Michelet. History of France. Part I. Trans
lated by G. H. Smith, F.G.S. London: Whittaker. 1844. 2. Thierry. Narratives of the Merovingian Era. Translated.
London: Whittaker. 1844. WHETHER or no there be any perfect ideal of historical composition, the one best form of writing history for all ages and countries, if we look to experience, we find that in fact each age has ever had a fashion of its own, differing from that which preceded and followed it. We do not speak of writers contemporary with the events they write of. Such, even though the most jejune of annalists, must always have an interest independent of their form. But we speak of regular history, complete accounts of nations or countries, compiled in later times from books and records. Such history is a distinct species of composition, a work of art, having its own principles of taste to be guided and judged by.
Such history, almost more than any other branch of literature, varies with the age that produces it. Contemporary history never dies; Thucydides and Clarendon are immortal; but, on the other hand, no reputation is so fleeting as that of the “standard" historian of his day. A review of the historical literature of any nation will discover an endless series of decay and reproduction. The fate of the historian is like those of the dynasties he writes of; they spring up and flourish, and bear rule and seem established for ever; but time goes on, their strength passes away, and at last some young and vigorous usurper comes and pushes them from their throne. It is not because new facts are continually accumulating, because criticism is growing more rigid, or even because style varies ; but because ideas change, the whole mode and manner of looking at things alters with every age; and so every generation requires facts to be recast in its own mould, demands that the history of its forefathers be rewritten from its own point of view. When Hume superseded Echard, his admiring contemporaries little thought that Hume himself would so rapidly become obsolete. Hooke was considered to have exhausted the history of the Roman Republic, and his Roman History to be the final book on the subject; but great as is the distance between him and Arnold, it is inevitable, in the course of things, that the next century will have to compose its own “History of Rome.” And these mutations of popular favour involve the smaller satellites as well as the great planets of the historical heaven; Mrs. Trimmer and Goldsmith, pale before the rising light of Keightly
and Mrs. Markham, as the subs of office quit their desks when premiers deliver up their portfolios.
Our own immediate age is confessedly rich in works of the historical class. Poetry we have almost none, and but little philosophy; but history has attracted great attention among us. the varied merits of the successful writers of history who have appeared within the last twenty years, we were to select one trait which seems above others to be a common characteristic, it would be their vivid descriptive character, their painting their narrative to the eye. The personages of the story go through their parts before us like actors on the stage, with a rich and strongly-drawn background of scenery. We may call this kind of history-pictorial history. All writers, who are themselves gifted with strong imaginations, are masters of description; but with us this style is not a native gift, or a happy genius, but the result of art, to be learnt like other arts, or rather is attained by going through a uniform mechanical process. Take two or three old chroniclers, rapidly select the striking bits, such as will tell, translate them in a quaint antique phrase; and whenever any town is mentioned, get the description of it out of the nearest county history, and the business is done. The herd of superficial writers are, however, the index of the public taste. No reader can be insensible to the spell which such a masterhand as Thierry's wields by means of his graphic narration.
If we are right in thinking that this picturesque character is the common feature of our historians now, we may venture further to assert that it is not accidentally so, that it is no isolated fact, but only one instance of our whole moral condition. So prevailing a taste is something more than one of those transient fluctuating fashions which change with each generation of general readers, but one deeply seated in the mind of our age.
An attention, then, to external form, to accuracy of representation, is characteristic of an age of refinement. Such an age implies two things: a state of leisure and tranquillity, and a deficiency of moral energy, arising chiefly from the smoothness with which the current of social life runs down. Leisure gives a wide extent of knowledge and information. Generations of antiquarians have heaped together vast piles of facts, and have thus provided an abundance of raw material ready for our use. The philologist is the historian's pioneer; and no one can pretend fitly to write of any period who has not made himself master of all the facts preserved concerning it; and then the second of the two causes we have named, the quiet and even tenour of existence will determinie our interest towards the secondary rather than the primary objects of knowledge. A time of peace and security inevitably tends to foster an umbratile and