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in the protection which its later extend to its earlier; and one in its union of vigour with continuance, that is, in its tenacity.1
On this doctrine two remarks must be made.
The attempt to apply any theory of development to justify the actual claim of the Church to be infallible is suicidal: for the notion of infallibility, and the supposed infallible guide, are themselves products of the development, and therefore cannot be final. As Newman says himself, “no historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine ceased and the rule of faith was once for all settled.” But he affirms that the infallible authority, outside the development, must have existed from the beginning, to provide a means of distinguishing true developments from false, for the benefit of individuals who were in the development, and therefore were unable to see the issues of the movements of thought around them. We reply that this insight is of course the gift of the Teacher or Prophet—the gift of
1 Essay, chapter v., at end. On these claims, see Martineau, Seat of Authority, “The Catholics and the Church.”
ethical or spiritual genius, which always varies in its degrees. Newman's attempt to prove the reality of the “infallible" guide is, I think, too feeble to be intelligibly summarised. No doubt such an infallible authority, guiding the progress of Thought, would have been and would still be very useful; but we can scarcely on that account assume its reality. The idea itself is a late product of the growth of ecclesiasticism.
Newinan overlooks an essential condition of growth, if he does not altogether exclude it by his sixth “note.” In a genuine development of ideas the new truth often abrogates the old and takes its place. We have not merely-as Newman seems to say
—a gradual expansion and growing complication of detail in old ideas ; we have a new interpretation of old experiences. Every significant idea or thought is—or in its origin was-an interpretation of some experience. New enterprises and experiences of man's soul require new ideas to express their meaning ; and these shed new light on old experiences and call for new and truer inter
1 Ch. ii. & ii.
pretations of them. Old interpretations, old forms of expression, become useless and have to be cast off; they may survive—they may even be religiously preserved intact and repeated as Divine truth, but they soon become a mere form of words : the meaning which once gave them life has gone. Thus the development of Christian doctrine cannot claim to be specially rational ; there is nothing in its nature to prevent errors, fictions, and even degrading superstitions from becoming an integral part of it. We have already seen the value of the conflict between different forms of belief as helping men to arrive at truer ideas. It is for history to show us the process in detail as thoroughly as it can.
On the other hand, neither can we set it all aside as a mere corruption, as Dr Martineau appears to do in his Seat of Authority. This position we have already illustrated. There is no reason to believe in any “ bias of original sin”in man’s intelligence, by which he loves to cherish false beliefs generation after gener
1 Zola seems to imply this in his celebrated trilogy, Lourdes, Rome, Paris. Cf. especially his Introduction to Lourdes.
ation. And the creeds and doctrinal systems of Christendom were not made through mere perversity ; they were made in order to give expression to certain deep convictions about what we are and why we are sent into this world. But we have seen that it is scarcely possible for anyone to put into precise language all his belief—when the belief is what Newman calls a real belief, i.e., is part of the man himself and a sign of what his character is growing to be. Every such belief goes deeper than the mere holding of opinions ; and our intellectual expression of these beliefs that mould our lives can only be partial and imperfect. This is the main reason for the variety and divergence in the expressions of such beliefs—particularly religious beliefs ; although there are of course numerous historical conditions which have co-operated in fixing the form of any particular religious creed.
As for a "return to Christ,” it does not appear that any real “return” is possible except in a metaphorical or imaginative sense of the word. We cannot put ourselves into that personal relation with him
which his hearers and followers had.1 Much of his power must have been due to what he was,-his personal charm and manner of teaching. He taught "not as the Scribes,” not with constant appeal to ancient written and oral tradition, but “as one having authority”-i.e., by means of brief, telling sayings coming straight from a deep sympathy with men and a clear understanding of their needs. We cannot see him as they saw him, or feel that marvellous personal force, that inspiration and help which his first followers found in him.
When, therefore, we speak of Christ as supreme, we can only mean that the spirit of the ethical and religious movement which he started is supreme; we cannot mean the historical Jesus of Nazareth in abstraction from this movement, because only through it is he revealed to us. We cannot appeal to him in contrast with historical Christianity, but only to the true spirit of historical Christianity against perversions of it; and we cannot rely upon historical Christianity
1 See Newman's Sermon on “Personal Influence the Means of Propagating Truth” in the University Sermons.