22 JUNE 1867, Page 18


Da. DOLLINGER is deservedly regarded as the leader of the liberal Roman Catholics. A profound scholar and able theologian, with- out a tinge of controversial bitterness, he represents Catholicism in its best form. The book of which a competent translation is now before us, and which is generally esteemed one of his best works, has been for several years current in German. Now that it has appeared in English, we may expect that considerable atten- tion will be directed to a book dealing with a subject which, since Dr. Dollinger originally wrote, has been treated in works so famous here as Itenan's Vie de Jesus and Ecce Boma ! Those two very dissimilar productions agree in one respect, in which they stand in direct opposition to Dr. Dollinger. They start with the recorded facts of Christ's life on earth, and draw thence inferences each in his own way. The German professor takes Catholicism for granted, and appeals frequently to ecclesiastical tradition as his authority. The present work, therefore, is in no sense an inde- pendent inquiry, and was never intended to be so. It is an ac- count of the origin and first establishment of Christianity, with a. deduction from Apostolic teaching and practice of the main doctrines of Catholicism, both those common to all Christian Churches, and those which constitute the differentia of the• Church of Rome. Written, as it is, by the ablest of living. Roman Catholic divines, a man whose intellect rises above super- stition and whose temper is too serene for intolerance, it sets before us the best case which Catholicism can found upon the New Testament. If we find in it principles and views which to our minds are fundamentally wrong, we may be satisfied that the fault is in the system, not in the exponent. Those to whom the opinions enunciated by Dr. Dollinger are repugnant or his argu- ments unconvincing, may rest assured that Catholicism cannot present itself in a more satisfactory shape.

In dealing with an author so celebrated as Dr. Dollinger, the aeviewer has this manifest advantage, that praise is unnecessary. Isis style and method of treatment, apart from the actual subject- matter, may be taken for granted ; and we shall not seem to be doing injustice in leaving his merits to take care of themselves, and confining our attention mainly to what we consider the defects of this treatise. A great deal of it every one who accepts Christianity at all would be disposed not only to acquiesce in, but to admire ; much more will give thorough satisfaction to the orthodox believers in dogmatical teaching, who form the bulk of the Church of England. With these portions, we need not attempt to deal at length, preferring to consider only those points which are characteristic of Catholicism, as opposed to other sec- tions of Christendom, or which, while generally repudiated in Eng- land, are accepted by the decidedly .High Church party. Even among these points one only is of paramount importance, both because the Roman doctrine on this head involves all the rest, and

• The First Age of Christianity and the Church. By John Ignatius Dollinger, D.D. Tranflated by H. N. 0:anham, DIA. Loudon W. H. Allen and Cs. 1107.

because it is essentially the point on which battle seems to be im- pending within the Church of England. The divine institution of a hierarchy, the transmission of supernatural gifts by succession from the Apostles, inherent priestly power over the souls of all men,—such are the origin, the mode of maintenance, and the scope of the authority which Rome claims to exercise. And although the High Church leaders within the Church of England obviously cannot admit these pretensions, yet they set up claims on their own account little less exorbitant, and backed by less show of historical prescription. Believing, as we do, that the spiritual dominion of a hierarchy, whether Roman or Anglican, is essentially unchristian, as reducing mankind again to bondage from which Christ set us free, we rejoice to see a prominent champion of Catholicism attempt with such signal ill-success to establish its claims on a historical basis. Dr. Thillinger would of course glory in his chains : he lays great stress on the implicit obedience of the early converts, and evidently regards their submission as the standard for all Christians in all ages. Whether he himself really believes in his own arguments we can- not of course venture to determine. It may either be that his intellectual acumen is blunted by holding the dogmas he here defends, or that his moral perceptions are so far dimmed that he considers fallacious arguments and unwarranted assumptions law- ful in support of his foregone conclusions. In either case we see the enervating effects upon a powerful mind of that adherence to a creed, primarily resulting, not from intellectual conviction, but from deference to external authority, which is necessarily involved in tte Roman Catholic theory of the Church.

The treatise before us is divided intothree books, the first of which, entitled " Christ and the Apostles," is alone historical in form ; and this is the portion which will command the greatest admiration and the widest assent. The author's insight into the character and posi- tion of St. Paul is especially clear and profound; and perhaps the ex- ample of so orthodox a writer may teach the average Anglican that it is not necessarily rationalistic and heretical to dwell upon the national and political circumstances in the midst of which Christ lived and taught. It is only where the subjects of the later books are by anticipation touched upon that we find flimsy arguments or assumptions treated as proof. His whole account of St. Peter is, of course, coloured by the theory that by a divinely chosen and special appointment " a chief shepherd was given to the whole Church, including the Apostles, and Peter was placed in the same relation as Christ had been before to the collective body of believers." It is melancholy to read such pages (pp. 94-97) as those which pro- fess to prove that St. Peter founded the Church of Rome, and remember how vigorous is the reasoning elsewhere on points which do not involve the disputed supremacy of Rome. Similarly, his language regarding the Church and its government where he mentions those topics in relating the personal history of the Apostles assumes the reality of a divinely appointed order, and of hier- archical authority conferred originally on the Apostles, and in- tended to be by them transmitted.

The second part of the work, headed, " Doctrine of the Apostles," gives a summary of the teaching of the Roman Church in her more enlightened and less superstitious mood, which Dr. Dollinger professes to deduce from the extant words of the Apostolic Epistles. Many of the remarks, such as those upon the treatment of the Old Testament Scriptures in the New Testament, upon original sin, upon the transformation of Judaism into Christianity, upon the authority of Scripture, are wise and liberal, or would be so, if they were not qualified by constant reference to the infallible nature of the Church. Presently we read such statements as that " Christ gave His Church an hierarchical and liturgical character," that "the Church offices rested wholly on the appointment and authority of God," that " Christ gave to all ordained in regular succession the power to bind and loose," that " in relation to the people the Apostles and their successors represent the Lord, in relation to God, the people,"--statements not supported by elab- orate arguments, but asserted as if indisputable, or at best veri- fied by reference to words spoken to the Apostles alone. We find interpretations as strained as those of the extreme Evangelicals, who worship the letter of Scripture ; for in- stance, from Christ's rebuke to His Apostles, when He said to them, " He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief as he that doth serve," the inference is drawn that Christ "told them beforehand that one would always be first and greatest in His kingdom." Such things are not new : partizans of all sects, Roman Catholics as well as their bitterest opponents, have often wrested the words of the Bible to suit their purposes. But it is at once sad to see an able and generally can- did writer stooping to such devices, and satisfactory to find the champion of Catholicism reduced to fight with such sorry weapons in defence of the main principle on which its special claims and its power for evil are mainly based.

The third book, entitled " Constitution, Worship, and Life of the Apostolic Church," contains a great deal that is very sensible and good about the social and political relations of the early Chris- tians, about their law of love, their obedience to the established government, their ideas of liberty and of the dignity of labour, together with much that needs no particular mention regarding their prayer and public worship, and the usual Roman Catholic theories about marriage, the superior virtue of celibacy, and religious vows, transferred back to the age of the Apostles. There is also a chapter upon the ministerial offices, which contains a sin- gular mixture of candid and truthful admissions, with unsubstantial arguments and bold assertions. Dr. Dollinger allows that the powers of the first teachers of Christianity were special and miracu- lous; that originally there were no distinctions of bishops, priests, or deacons ; and that there are nowhere fixed names of offices in the New Testament. Nevertheless he asserts as undoubted fact that certain Apostles were bishops, and that the Angels of the Seven Churches addressed in the beginning of the Book of Revelation were their actual bishops ; and he further argues that the Apostles refrained from appointing bishops, which they had general divine authority to do at any time, so long as the Temple at Jerusalem stood, because the appointment of bishops would certainly have been regarded by all Jews, and by Christians also, as an act sealing the exclusion of the Church, and " its definitive separation from the Israelite nation and religion." If this act were so significant and so momentous in its consequences, the appointment of a single bishop ought to have sealed the separation, yet on Dr. Dellinger's own showing not only were Timothy and Titus made bishops by St. Paul long before the fall of the Temple, but St. James from the first exercised the episcopal office in Jerusalem itself. To us, who fail to discern the importance of the formal outward sepa- ration between Judaism and Christianity, seeing the immense difference between them in substance, and who disbelieve in bishops as a divine institution, it is of no consequence upon which horn of the dilemma Dr. Dollinger chooses to impale himself. Neither by this nor by any other argument does he succeed in explaining away what he honestly admits at the outset, that there are no traces of an ordered hierarchy in the New Testament.

It is perhaps needless to add that Dr. Dollinger professes to find a warrant in Apostolic teaching for confession, penance, prayers for the dead, extreme unction, all the heavy burdens which priest- craft has laid on the souls of men. Such pretensions are familiar as regards both their natureand the proofs by which they are supported, and they have certainly not been advocated with less ability than usual. After all, these things are of comparatively little import- ance as compared with the priestly theory on which they depend ; if we admit the fundamental doctrine, it matters very little whether or not we accept also its developments. If, on the other hand, we refuse to believe that any power intervenes between mau and God, there is no foundation upon which such doctrines as confession can be based. For those who determine to resign their intellects into the keeping of a priest, and to hold their creed not because their own spirit and conscience are convinced of its truth, but because the Church orders it, we do not attempt to write ; everything except dogmatic statement must neces- sarily be wasted on those who ex hypothesi decline to reason. For those who, attracted by the venerable antiquity and vast claims of Catholicism, yet have not altogether renounced the use of their faculties, we can imagine few books more whole- some than this one. It was acutely said that the Bishop of Salis- bury did great service to freedom in the Church of England by prosecuting Dr. Rowland Williams unsuccessfully. On the same principle we thank Dr. Dollinger for showing the basis upon which the hierarchical theory is made to rest by its ablest advocate. We have hitherto abstained from quoting more than isolated expres- sions, because quotation of passages from such a work seems a far less satisfactory way of exhibiting its scope and character than attempting to condense its spirit. But in order to show that we have not overstated the case against Dr. Dollinger as to the use he is driven to make of the New Testament, we conclude by quot- ing in juxtaposition the words of Christ as recorded by St. John, and the paraphrase of those words given by Dr. Dellinger :- St. John iv., 21.—" Woman, be- "You Samaritans honour God hove me, the hour cometh, when by sacrifices you have invented or ye shall neither in this mountain, adopted for yourselves, but which nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the for you, who reject the Prophets

Father. and the whole course of that in- creasing revelation which points entirely to the Messiah, have no

The transformation of words which are almost the charter of spiritual liberty into an assertion of the Roman doctrine of the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is inseparably bound up with the theory of priestly authority and consequent spiritual bondage, ought to convince the most credulous as to the amount of candour which the most candid of Roman Catholic divines can exhibit when the special views and pretensions of his Church are at issue.

"22. Ye worship ye know not what ; we know what we worship ; for salvation is of tho Jews.

"23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth ; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

" 24. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

force or inward meaning. But we in Judrea, from whom comes salva- tion by the Messiah, celebrate the typical sacrifices of the Lawon Sion. This quarrel, however, between Gerizim and Sion will soon have an end, for the time is come when the true worshippers of God will serve Him, not with the legal and typical ceremonies belonging to this or that place or temple, not with the blood of goats and lambs, but with a sacrifice suited to the spiritual nature of God, itself spirit and truth, and accompanied by the purely spiritual acts of prayer, adoration, love, and hope ; the one mystical, unbloody sacrifice of the New Covenant, to be offered every- where throughout the whole extent of the Church."