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being revealed as part of the Gospel of Christ as any statement found in the express words of Scripture itself. Exactly so, there are certain statutes in English law whose wording is far from being clear to the lay mind, and whose clauses seem to go but a very small way towards covering the whole subjectmatter concerned, but where a perfectly consistent series of decisions in the law-courts, dating from the original enactment, and an unbroken usage in entire harmony therewith, serve as proof to every one that these Acts have in fact one unquestioned meaning, itself as much part of the law of the land as if verbally embodied in their wording.
Examples of the kind referred to may be found in ecclesiastical matters also. The observance of Sunday, the baptism of infants, the institution of episcopacy, do not rest on clear and express warrant of the letter of Scripture. They are instances of an universal identity of interpretation of that letter, resulting in an universal identity of practice all over the Christian world from its earliest times.
And to all who accept the Church as being a divinely established and guided body, such evidence is sufficient; while even those who regard it merely as a human organisation, are constrained to admit that whatever exhibits such complete unison and such an unbroken prescription, must fairly represent the mind of the first Christian teachers, and be clothed with whatever authority they possessed.
If, then, any such harmonious testimony to the Privilege of Peter be producible as that which can be found for Sunday, for infant baptism, and for episcopacy, with a like absence of rebutting evidence, it will, to say the least, very nearly counterbalance the adverse construction which a comparative survey of the bare letter of Scripture forces on the theologian's attention.
“Very nearly,' but not quite. And only 'very nearly,' for these reasons: (1.) The claim in this individual instance is of a special privilege by a deed, so to say, of particular grant or donation, to which impugners are referred as the paramount evidence and authority. The claim on behalf of Sunday observance, or of infant baptism, does not rest on any such definite warrant at all, but on unbroken prescription. Now, it is a maxim of Canon Law that privilege and prescription cannot be simultaneously pleaded on behalf of the same claim ; for the man who bases his demand on a deed of privilege is held to renounce his right of prescription—(Decret. Greg. IX., lib. ii. titt. xxvi. and xxvii. 19.) (2.) That which expresses the mind of the Church only, and is not directly
matter of Divine revelation, may be conceivably altered by the consent of the whole body, as if, suppose, the distinction between Metropolitans and Bishops were abolished. But it is not competent for even the whole body to alter, either by enlargement or diminution, whatever it acknowledges to be divinely revealed, as is the case with the books of the Old and New Testament.
The most, therefore, which could be derived from such a consensus of authorities, each indefinitely inferior in weight to any New Testament writer, and all collectively not nearly equalling the aggregate witness of the New Testament, would be a very strong presumption, but still far short of Divine certainty, in favour of a particular opinion or usage, unless this consensus went the whole length of asserting that the matter alleged is a divinely revealed dogma of Christianity. And this is the least which would make amends for the indirectness and obscurity, to say no more, of the evidence for the Privilege of Peter as found in the Scriptures.
Before beginning the investigation of such evidence as is tendered or producible, it is expedient to set down once more the links which must be, one and all of them, conclusively established before the claim will bear the weight of Papal supremacy or infallibility, and also to state the sources of inquiry, and the classification of testimony.
First, then, it must be shown that there is full agreement amongst the Fathers, that S. Peter was the Rock of the Church, was infallible, and was invested with direct jurisdiction over all the other Apostles, and not with a mere primacy of honour.
Next, that this supreme jurisdiction and infallible character were not personal only, but capable of being devolved or transmitted to his successors.
Thirdly, that S. Peter was local and diocesan Bishop of Rome.
Fourthly, that as a matter of fact he did professedly and expressly transmit his privilege to the Bishops of Rome, constituting them his heirs and successors.
Fifthly, that the Christian Church did, in fact, from the earliest times, recognise and submit to this infallible supremacy as of Divine institution.
There are several collateral issues, scarcely less important, but it will suffice to examine these five links, the failure of any one of which is fatal to the whole claim.
As to the sources of inquiry, they are: (1.) The ancient Liturgies. (2.) The writings of the Fathers from S. Ignatius and other sub-Apostolic authors down to Venerable Bede, A.D. 735. (3.) The canons, decrees, and acts of Councils, and, mainly, the six undisputed General Councils. (4.) The admissions and acts of Popes and others. (5.) All such events in Church history as illustrate the meaning of phrases used by the Fathers.
As to the classification of testimony, nothing that does not help to prove some one of the five links just named is relevant. For example, no quotations which are simply laudatory of S. Peter, but which go no further than ranking him foremost of the Apostles, and none which speak of the Roman Church as an Apostolic See, but do not attribute to it a preponderating authority in Christendom, are to the point. They may be, and constantly are, adduced as though they helped to prove the privilege of Peter; but in fact they do nothing of the sort. Foremost amongst such irrelevant citations are those which speak of S. Peter as 'Prince of the Apostles. The modern use of the word 'Prince,' to denote superior and even sovereign rank, naturally misleads those who do not know that the Latin princeps, from which it is derived, has no such necessary meaning, but originally denoted no more than 'first in time or order.' And in this sense, just as S. Peter is called “Prince of the Apostles,' as indeed S. Andrew is also by S. Jerome on Psalm lxviii., so is S. Stephen called “ Prince of the Martyrs,' without any superior.authority being thereby attributed to him over them. The mistake generated in this way may be compared to that which would be caused if some person, noticing in a Peerage that the Duke of Norfolk is ‘Premier' Duke and Earl of England, were not merely to suppose that he is the holder of the first Duchy and Earldom ever created in England, but that he and the Dukes his predecessors have always been the heads of the Executive, as Prime Ministers of the Crown, because such is a modern use of the word · Premier.'
Once more.—It must be steadily borne in mind that no evidence which merely goes to show that S. Peter stands forth conspicuously as the representative of the unity and authority of the Church, and as for a time its most prominent member, is of the least value either in behalf of the alleged privilege. What is needed is proof that S. Peter represents, not the Church, but Christ; that he is, in short, in his double relation to the Head and to the Body, not what (to borrow a parallel from civil society) the President of a Legislative Chamber is, but what a Regent under an absolute monarchy is, in the absence of the King.
Again, no testimony of a writer who uses inconsistent and incompatible language on the points in debate can be received in favour of the claim, unless his affirmative words be later than, and in formal retractation of, his negative ones.
Fourthly, no Pope can be accepted as evidence in his own favour, because of the universal maxim of law, ‘No man may be judge in his own cause.' But admissions made by Popes adverse to their own alleged privilege are good proof against it; just as, in a common question of ownership, as of a purse picked up in the street, a disclaimer of right in it carries conviction of the speaker's truth much more perfectly than an assertion of ownership would do, because, in the former case, the statement is against the interest of the person who makes it.
Fifthly, words must be invariably brought to the test of deeds. It is a common device of Protestant controversialists, for example, to dilute and minimise the strong language of certain Fathers on the Holy Eucharist by describing it as merely rhetorical metaphor, not to be literally construed. But when this language is brought to the test of the ancient Liturgies, which, both in their words and acts, denote the practical belief of the Churches which used them, it is at once found that the Fathers are actually less fervid and, so to say, 'extreme' than the Liturgies in their diction. It will be shown later what light the acts of Tertullian, of S. Cyprian, of S. Augustine, and other eminent Christian writers, shed on their language with regard to the Petrine claims.
The importance of the Liturgies as sources of evidence is due not only to their great antiquity, but still more to the fact that they testify to a great deal more than any patristic citations can do, for what whole Churches and nations said officially and authoritatively every day for several centuries together is much weightier than what a single ecclesiastical writer said but once, and that perhaps informally, and almost certainly in his private capacity, pledging no one but himself. The nearly universal custom in these Liturgies of commemorating the most eminent Saints by name in the oblation is important to bear in mind, as it must certainly have led to the specific mention of S. Peter in most, if not all of them, if his rank be as alleged by Ultramontanes.
It will not be necessary to cite all the extant Liturgies, for a comparatively small number of extracts will display the whole evidence :
a. Liturgy of S. James, or norm of Palestine.-In the course of the Prayer of Invocation of the Holy Ghost on the
oblations occur these two highly significant passages :-(1.) *For the stablishing of Thy Holy Catholic Church, which
Thou hast founded on the rock of the faith, that the gates of hell may not prevail against it.' (2.) · Especially for the glorious Zion, the Mother of all the Churches.'
b. Liturgy of S. Mark, or norm of Egypt.—There are three items of evidence in this document:-(1.) The first place in the commemoration of ecclesiastical persons is assigned to the Pope or Patriarch of Alexandria, who is described in one passage as 'pre-ordained to rule over Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.' (2.) The only Saints commemorated by name are the Blessed Virgin and S. Mark, as founders of the See of Alexandria. (3.) The order of commemoration of places gives the first rank to Jerusalem, the second, perhaps to Rome, but as probably to Constantinople at a later time, and the third to Alexandria, thus : Remember, O Lord, the Holy city of our God, Jesus Christ, and the imperial city, and this city of ours.'
c. Liturgy of the Holy Apostles, or Nestorian norm of Persia.-No evidence.
d. Liturgy of S. Clement.-One clause alone in this ancient document-and that most probably an interpolation by the anonymous compiler of the Apostolical Constitutions some time in the fourth century-is relevant, and it puts the Bishop of Jerusalem first, of Rome second, and either of Antioch or Alexandria third, thus :-For every episcopate under heaven of those who rightly divide the word of Thy truth, let us make our supplication; and for our Bishop James and his parishes, let us make our supplication ; for the Bishop Clement and his parishes let us make our supplication; for our Bishop Evodius [al. Anianus) and his parishes, let us make our supplication.
e. Liturgy of S. Basil the Great, or norm of Syro-Greek Church.—No evidence, save that the Blessed Virgin and S. John Baptist are the only saints commemorated by name, and that the local prelate is the first named in the Great Intercession.
f. Liturgy of S. Chrysostom, or norm of Constantinople.As S. Basil.
8. Coptic S. Basil, or norm of the Coptic Church.-(1.) In the Prayer of Absolution the Twelve Apostles are mentioned collectively, and next S. Mark is named specifically, followed by some other names. (2.) The Pope of Alexandria occupies the first place in the Intercession. (3.) There is a prayer in honour of S. Paul after the Epistle, as being the chief preacher