It would be a pleasant task to dwell on the many splendid pages - in a true sense, profitable for edification - which ennoble the long record of the greatest of Christian bishoprics. English Churchmen can never forget what they owe to him who for years kept the heathen Angles in his heart before he sent Augustine to inaugurate their Christianity. And looking far beyond the area of mere national obligation, we see in St. Clement how the spirit of love can fuse itself with the spirit of order: we think of the brotherly tolerance of Anicetus, of the fatherly kindness of Soter, of the far-reaching benevolence and theological ability of Dionysius, of the martyrdoms of Telesphorus, Fabian, and Sixtus II. We remember the fidelity of Julius to the cause of faith as impersonated in St. Athanasius, and of Innocent to the cause of righteousness as impersonated in St. Chrysostom. We think of Leo I. as preaching sermons full of


Christ - as expounding the doctrine of the Incarnation with luminous force and "absolute balance" - as delivering Rome by the majesty of his serene courage, from the savage Hun and the ruthless Vandal. We know what Christendom owes to some of the great mediaeval pontiffs, and what examples of episcopal virtue have been set by several of their later sucessors. But the tasks of history are not always pleasant; admiration, reverence, gratitude, are not the only feelings which they evoke; and so it is that, in considering the historical position of the see of Rome during the early centuries, we are immersed, whether we like it or not, in an atmosphere charged with controversy - and that, a controversy simply inevitable while the Roman Church continues to be what it is. Her members, if they argue at all, are constrained to claim primitiveness for that Papal autocracy which is now the very basis of their whole system: they may adopt the phrases of a "theory of development" [1], but they must contend for


the propositions laid down by Pius IX. in the decree Pastor Aeternus, and "approved" (whatever that may mean) by the "sacred Vatican Council," on the two main points of the Papal jurisdiction and the Papal "magisterium" or teaching office; and this decree explicitly appeals to "the ancient and constant faith of the Church Universal, the tradition received a fidei Christianae exordio", as attesting [2] the right of the


bishop of Rome to a universal jurisdiction, which is at once "plenary, supreme, ordinary, and immediate," and also (2) his infallibility when "defining, ex cathedra, a doctrine on faith or conduct, as to be held by the church Universal," insomuch that such definitions are "irreformable" in virtue of their intrinsic authority, "and not in virtue of the assent of the Church."

It is true that this infallibility is not identified with a permanent "inspiration," and is described as being the same with which Christ "willed His Church, when so defining, to be endowed;" and that, to the disappointment, at the time, of some Papalist enthusiasts, it was resolved to abstain from defining more precisely the scope of the Church's infallibility, and thereby of the Pope's, or the relation of the one to the other [3]. But the


language, as it stands, is sufficiently explicit for our purpose; and it is obvious that no view of Papal authority which falls short of it, - for instance, which reduces that authority to an "office of inspection or direction," to a presidency in General Councils, or to an enforcement of the decrees of such Councils, - or which makes the Papal voice the mere organ of the collective epicopate, - is now within the lines of Roman orthodoxy. The Papal claims stand out before us as formulated in the Vatican decree. Evidence therefore, which does not profess to prove the validity of those claims - precisely of those, and of no others, whether wider or narrower - makes nothing for the Roman arguer's purpose: it must be simply put aside as irrelevant to the dicsussion. Premising, then, that in this discussion the terms "Pope," "Papal,"


or "Papacy" will be used in the sense of the Vatican Council, and in no other, let us ask three questions, to every one of which a Roman advocate must return - not by simple assertion, but by distinct adequate proof [4] - an affirmative reply. (A) Did St. Peter act as "the Pope" of the Apostolic Church? (B) Was he himself bishop of Rome? (C) Were the bishops of Rome the acknowledged "Popes" of the primitive or ancient Church?


[1] Mr. Rivington, in his preface to "The Primitive Church and the See of Peter," tells us that the "papacy" of the first five centuries is to the present papacy as the acorn is to the oak, as the child is to the grown man; and he claims the authority of Vincent of Lerins (c. 23). But there is development - and development: forms of expression may be enlarged or improved, new inferences made from Scripture, new arguments employed, - and further, new light may be thrown (e.g. by controversy) on old beliefs, and the bearings and aspects of Christian truth may be, as Vincent's Commonitory puts it, "more clearly understood, more exactly represented, more intelligently believed" (cp. Sir W. Palmer, Doctr. of Development and Conscience, pp. 148, 167, 200, 203, etc.). But Vincent not only forbids "mutilation," he excludes also the "addition" of "superfluous" or "alien matter:" "Nihil de germinis proprietate mutetur," "ut cum dicas nove, non dicas nova." In his illustration from bodily growth, it is the same flesh that has expanded; no new substance has come in to swell it out: whereas we contend that the papal monarchy, like other elements of the Roman system, is "alien" from the original type of Church life. It i not meant that the "alien" ideas found nothing in primitive Christianity to take hold of: the familiar phrase, "Roman corruptions," implies the contrary. What is meant is that unprimitive ideas came in and acted as a leaven, touching this or that primitive element, giving it a onesided and unhealthy exuberance, producing a fermentation which disturbed the proportion of the credenda. After all, the question recurs: Was a papacy part of the original Christianity?

[2] It would be a bold proceeding to accept these dogmas and reject the assertions made by the same authority as to their substantial primitiveness.

[3] "W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival," p. 261. We are told, somewhat triumphantly (Rivington, Concl.) that PŠre Gratry, in prospect of death, accepted the Vatican decree, with the explanation that what he had feared and opposed was a definition of infallibility as "personal," whereas the decree on magisterium spoke only of infallibility official, or ex cathedra. But in his "Second letter to the archbishop of Malines," he had dwelt on the fact that the theory of infallibility as held by Bellarmine, and before him by Melchior Cano, was supported by forgeries, and was therefore untenable. Now both these writers disclaimed what they considered the extreme view (as held by Albert Pighius) of an extra-official or purely personal infallibility; and it is the theory which they actually held which by the Vatican decree is made de fide for Romanists. E.g. Cano's conclusion is "that the supreme pontiff, when pronouncing about the faith" "from the apostolic tribunal" "cannot err," see Cano de Eccl. Rom. Auct. c. 4, 5, 8; and so Bellarmine, De Rom. Pont. iv. 3, that "when teaching the whole Church", he can nowise err in things pertaining to the faith." This is precisely what Mr. Rivington is bound to maintain. Gratry's explanation, therefore, was hollow, and his submission was doubtless obtained under a threat of refusal of sacraments.

That a certain "historical introduction to the decree," designed to reassure certain minds by recognising the consultative function of the Church as preparatory to a papal definition, was not published until twenty years later ("W. G. Ward, etc.," p. 262), is very characteristic of Roman policy.

[4] But Mr. Rivington's readers have fair warning as to his own historical criteria. History is to be read "as the Catholic Church" (i.e. in effect, the pope) "gives it to us, placing it key in our hands" (p. 148).


The first of these queries may surely be dealt with by simply referring to the Acts of the Apostles, to the passages in St. Paul's letter in which "Peter" or "Cephas" is mentioned, [1] and,


last but not least, to the letters of St. Peter himself. These will show that neither the Apostles as a body, nor the "rock-like" Apostle himself, regarded the sayings, "Thou art Peter," etc. "Strengthen thy brethren," "Feed my lambs, My sheep," as making him, in one word, a Pope. That he was, during our Lord's ministry, the


spokesman of his colleagues, the typical Apostle, and that he retained - to some extent in partnership with St. John - a kind of leadership, at any rate during the period extending to the Council of Jerusalem, is undisputed; but out of such a prominence, or "hegemony," a Papacy cannot emerge by any process of rightful derivation: and in the Apostolic period it certainly did not exist. We find St. Paul appointing Timothy and Titus as - in the first instance - his delegates: we find nothing like this in regard to St. Peter, who himself gives not the faintest hint of any consciousness of any such office as Papalism assigns to him. This is not a mere argument ex silentio; if St. Peter had been, by Christ's commission, His unique Vicar, the monarch and oracle of the growing Church, a polity so simple and intelligible must have found expression in Apostolic writings, and could not have been ignored by the "Vicar" himself.


[1] Mr. Rivington's adventurous appeal (Reply to Ch. Qu. Rev. p. 6) to St. Paul's mention of the "head," when he is illustrating Christians' interdependence by the members of a human body (I Cor. xii. 15-26), may be disposed of by observing that this parallelism runs through seven verses before "head" and "feet" are mentioned together; and that when St. Paul comes to apply it, he mentions, as "set by God in the Church, first, apostles" in the plural. As for the a priori assumption (put forward as self-evident by Cardinal Vaughan in his introduction to Mr. Rivington's volume) that the Church, as a body, must have a single visible head, it obscures a leading feature of Christian supernaturalism, by treating the visible Church as complete in itself, like any temporal society; whereas St. Paul, by speaking repeatedly and emphatically of our Lord Himself as "the Head," and never once even hinting at any vicarial headship on earth as attaching to one of the three who "were regarded as pillars" (Gal. ii. 9), lifts up our view of the visible Church into a far higher and more spiritual atmosphere, and represents it as only the smaller part of a great whole, which extends through the worlds seen and unseen, but has its true vital centre in the living and invisibly present Christ. In regard to another passage in the same epistle, it is for Papalists to explain how a "Christ-party" could have been set up against a "Cephas-party" if Peter had been acknowledged to be Christ's representative. In the epistle to the Galatians, even the rebuke addressed by St. Paul to St. Peter at Antioch is less significant than St. Paul's pointed disclaimer of any obligation to, or dependence on, his seniors in the apostolate. He expressly intimates that after his original mission he allowed three years to pass before he "went up to visit Cephas" (R. V.) - a phrase which indicates no more than the natural desire to become acquainted with so eminent a member of the original apostolic company.

And he takes care to protest that he derived "no new information" as to his apostolic duties from any of oi dokountes at Jerusalem, among, not above whom, he ranks St. Peter. This would have been simply impossible if the "revelation" which he had received had taught him to regard his host of a fortnight as "the visible head" of the Church, the supreme medium of communication with her Lord.