Faith and Theology (Brownson's Distinction between Faith "Divine" / and Theology "Human"); January 1863

Faith and Theology

A chief reason why our religion encounters so much opposition among well disposed and comparatively well informed persons brought up outside the church, is simply in the fact that they do not understand it and take it to be very much the reverse of what it is.  They suppose we confound theology with faith, and claim for the opinions and speculations of theologians, however crude and imperfect, the same authority that we claim for the revealed word of God; and hence they suppose that we regard as faith, as matter not to be rejected without heresy, all the traditions, notions, speculations, opinions, or convictions to be found among Catholics in any age or country.  Assuming that Catholics profess to act always from the promptings of divine grace, and under the authority of the church held to be infallible, they hold our religion itself responsible for all that has been done in any age or nation, not only by the clergy, but by Catholic princes and people; and as there is undeniably much in the history of Catholic populations, goverments, and nations, which no honest and enlightened man can approve, they conclude that our religion is an imposition, our faith vain, and the claims of our church to be the church of God unfounded.  Yet the whole of this non-Catholic reasoning rests on a false assumption, and proceeds on a total misapprehension of real Catholic doctrine.  There are two sets of traditions amongst Catholics, as amongst non-Catholics; the one denominated by our Lord, “traditions of men,” and the other held to be divine traditions, or traditions of the word ofGod revealed by Christ, the prophets, the apostles, and canonical authors.  The latter traditions only are of faith, and it is only in regard to them that Catholics profess to have infallible authority in the church.  The former, the traditions of men, are not included in the traditions of faith, and we do not hold them, or profess to hold them, on divine authority, even though entertained and held as probable or as true by churchmen.  They fall into the category of all human beliefs and convictions, and are open to the free judgments of reason, to be held or rejected as reason holds them worthy or unworthy of belief.

Catholics, if at all instructed, always distinguish between faith and theology.  Faith is the revealed word of God; theology is a human science, constructed by the human mind operating on divine things partly revealed, and partly evident from natural reason.  In theology there may be more than in modern times is included under the term philosophy, but there is at least, all that is included under that term. Theology includes as an integral part of itself, at least the whole of philosophy, and we find it difficult for ourselves to draw any valid line of distinction between them.  Theology, it is said, takes its principles from both revelation and natural reason, and philosophy takes its principles from natural reason alone; but a philosophy which borrows nothing from the revelation of the superintelligible, or the super-rational, will never be able to explain even the intelligible, or be deserving of the name of philosophy.  The natural is not complete in itself, and the intelligible has its origin and ground in the superintelligible, the rational in the super-rational, and, therefore, is not explicable by itself alone, as naturalists and rationalists pretend.  The intelligible order, not being complete in itself, is not explicable without revelation.  The natural and supernatural are distinguishable, no doubt, but not separable.  Strictly speaking, the supernatural is that which is done immediately by God, while the natural is that which is done by him mediately, through the agency of second or third causes; but what he does in either of these ways, forms only a part of one complete and indissoluble whole.  The natural and supernatural are not two parallel orders, each sufficing for itself and complete in itself.  What is called the supernatural order, the Christian order, the order of grace, and known to us only by supernatural and divine revelation, is not an order separate from the so-called order of nature, but is in the plan of the Creator related to it, as its complement or completion, and in that plan forms only one full and complete order with it.  Neither part can be really known or understood without the other.  They are two parts of one whole.  We can have no real science of the supernatural without natural reason, or of the natural without supernatural revelation.  To all science constructed without revealed principles, there must be always something wanting, as there is always something wanting to the natural man, that is, the cosmic man, remaining in the order of generation, and not elevated by grace to the order of regeneration, or created anew in Christ Jesus.  For ourselves personally, we regard theology and philosophy, when rightly understood, as substantially identical, or at least attach little value to a philosophy that can be separated from theology and constructed independently of principles derivable only from supernatural revelation.

Faith, we mean Catholic faith, is restricted to what we call the Catholic idea, but what is more commonly, and more intelligibly to the readers, called the revealed word of God.  Father Veron, in his Regle generale de la foi catholique, as cited and approved by Chrismann says: “All and only that is of Catholic faith, which is revealed in the word of God, and proposed by the church to all men to be believed with divine faith.  For any doctrine to be an article or dogma of Catholic faith, it is necessary first of all that it should be revealed by God through Christ, the prophets, the apostles, or the canonical authors.”  Hence the church can propose nothing to be believed with divine faith, or to be received as Catholic faith, that is not contained in the revealed word of God, transmitted to us from Christ, through the prophets, apostles, or canonical authors.  The church can, then, by her own authority make or propose no new faith, and is restricted in her office of teaching to “the faith once delivered to the saints,” or, as theologians say, to the depositum, or faith deposited with her from the beginning, for the ultimate reason of Catholic faith is not the authority of the church proposing, but of God revealing.  The church is the witness to the fact that God reveals the article or dogma, but the article or dogma itself is believed on the veracity of God, who is truth itself, or because it is his word.

Catholic faith must be the whole faith, and be catholic in time as well as in space.  According to the dictum of St. Vincent of Lerins, only that which is always and everywhere believed, quod semper, et ubique, and by all, is catholic faith.  If the faith in the beginning was catholic, the whole faith was then revealed, proposed, and believed, and no subsequent addition was possible.  If the whole was not revealed, proposed, and believed in the beginning, then the faith in the beginning was not catholic, and the primitive believers were not Catholics.  If less than the whole is now proposed and believed, faith now is not catholic, and present believers are not Catholics.  The faith must, then, if catholic have been complete in the beginning, and have been transmitted to us without addition or diminution.  The church has, therefore, no authority to alter or change the faith, to add any thing to it, or to take any thing from it.  If among Catholics any change, addition, or diminution has occurred, it has been without authority, and the result of ignorance or error.

In the controversy occasioned by Dr. Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, we discussed this point at length.  We did nto then, and we do not now, object to development, but we found fault with the theory of the learned author, because we understood him to maintain that there may be development in the faith itself, objectively considered, - development in the revealed truth, not simply in its explication, or in our understanding and appropriation of it.  It is possible, however, that we misunderstood him, and that after all he really meant only what we ourselves held then and hold now.  But be this as it may, we denied then and we deny now all development, growth, or increase in the faith, or as the theologians say, the object (objectum materiale) of faith.  Objectively considered the Catholic faith is Christ himself, and he reveals it in revealing or manifesting himself.  He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and in revealing himself reveals the whole Catholic faith.  As he changes not, neither enlarges nor diminishes, but is invariable, immutable, “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” the faith in itself must be invariable, always one and the same.  Perhaps we should speak more truly if we said, not that he revealed himself, but that he reveals himself to the church, as ever present to her and dwelling in her, as her continuous and unfailing light and life.  Hence the revelation she receives is neither old nor new, but always present, and always equal to itself.  In this view, again, there could be no change, variation, development, growth, or diminution of the faith in itself. 

Now the authority and infallibility of the church as teacher rest on the presence in and to her of Christ, the universal and living truth.  When our Lord commanded his apostles to go and teach all nations, he added, “For I am with you all days unto the consummation of the world.”  The church derives her authority not simply from an external appointment or commission, which, while it gave the legal right, could not give the internal ability to teach, but also and chiefly from the presence of Christ with her and in her, as her light and her life.  The church on her divine side lives the life of Christ, has her light in his light, and speaks externally the words he speaks internally to her.  Here is the real ground of her authority.  In divine things all is real, nothing merely putative, arbitrary, or forensic.  A commission to the church to teach, as a commission from a prince to one of his servants to command his army, would not be in itself a real power to teach, or a sufficient warrant for believing or obeying her, for she might, with her commission in her pocket, lack the ability to teach truly the word of God.  The human mind is not and cannot be satisfied with the knowledge that she has a simple legal commission to teach, for it does not see how such a commission is or can be in itself a sufficient pledge of infallibility.  The commission is intrinsic, not forensic simply, and is in the fact that He who is truth itself is living in the chruch, and living in her as her life and her light, so that in teaching she has only to speak the word which He who can neither deceive nor be deceived, speaks in her to her own consciousness.  He is, in some sense, her mind, her intellect, her intelligence.  But the very ground of the infallibility and authority of the church necessarily restricts both to what Christ reveals, and therefore to faith alone, or to what is revealed in the word of God spoken or speaking to her.  Hence all Catholics maintain that the church in teaching is authoritative and infallible only in matters of faith.  She has authority, but not infallibility in discipline or administration, and the faithful must submit to her authority for the sakeof order and a good conscience, since she is appointed to govern as well as to teach.  But in matters of discipline and administration the church is human, a human legislator and administrator, and whatever is human is imperfect, and may be mistaken.  The administration of the church, or the administration of the state, is intrusted to men, - for the most part, we believe, wise and good men, but still men, and men with the appetites, propensities, passions, and infirmities of men.  But in matters of faith, the church as the living body of our Lord, by virtue of her union with him, and the indwelling Holy Ghost, is not only authoritative, but infallible, and authoritative because infallible.  Beyond, however, what is of Catholic faith, what her indwelling Lord in all times and places reveals to her of himself, she teaches neither infallibly nor authoritatively, and beyond, no Catholic is bound to believe what she teaches on pain of heresy, although always and everywhere, and in all matters she is to be respected.

From this we gather, first, that as Catholics, we are not bound to defend every act or measure of ecclesiastical administration during the centuries since St. Peter erected the papal throne in the city of the Caesars, far less every act of the civil and political administration of Catholic states and nations.  We have, without any impeachment of our orthodoxy or of our filial duty as Catholics, the right to refuse to defend what we honestly believe to be indefensible, and to criticize what we honestly believe deserving of criticism in the history of the church, and are no more bound to defend Catholic princes and governments in their civil and political administration than we are non-Catholic princes and governments.  As a fact, we believe, the ecclesiatical administration has been by far freer from error and imperfection than any secular administration, and that the administration of Catholic states, on the whole, compares more than favorably with that of the best governed non-Catholic states.  Yet we do not feel ourselves bound to defend every act of the popes, not even of those who have been canonized.  We venerate the memory of St. Gregory VII as that of a great man, a great pope, and a great saint, and yet among the popes he is the principal author of that system of centralism which we so dislike and deplore.  He evidently adopted it as the only practical remedy within his reach for the evils of his times; but he acted in view of the present and not of the future, as we should were we to abolish states’ rights and install a military dictator as the condition of escaping from our present national embarrassments and evils.  Far less do we feel ourselves bound to defend the policy of Cardinal Ximenes as regent of Spain in destroying the estates and grasping all power for the crown; Philip II in his conduct toward the Netherlands; James II in following the advice of Father Petrie in dealing with the Church of England; Louis XIV either in his attitude toward the pope, or in his revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and dragooning the Huguenots into the church; or the war of the Bourbons on the Jesuits, or the demand of the frightened princes and ultra-conservatives for their re-establishment in 1814.  We have a right to judge of all these things in the light of history, experience, and sound reason.  We may err in our judgment, egregiously err, and that may be much to our discredit, as a wise statesman, a philosophical historian, or author seeking to enlighten public opinion, but it is not necessarily any impeachment of our loyalty or our orthodoxy as a Catholic or member of the Catholic Church.

We gather, secondly, from the principles laid down, that, since we are bound only in matters of faith, in matters of theology, unless we contradict faith, we are free, and are not bound by the opinions of theologians.  Theology is not faith, but is a human science, constructed by human reason operating on both rational and revealed principles.  The faith regarded in itself is the same, whether revealed or unrevealed, and even revealed it would be to us as if it were not, if we did not believe it, and if it did not become the object or our thoughts and to us a principle of intellectual life and activity.  To have it avail us, we must ourselves receive it, appropriate, or assimilate it.  We must seek to understand it, to grasp its relations with ourselves, with our reason, with the whole world of intellect, and with the universe of which we are a part.  This gives rise to what we call theology, which is not faith, but is the science of faith – the articles, dogmas, or propositions of faith, or the several truths revealed, reproduced in our minds in their scientific form and relations, and brought into harmony with the whole body of truth, whehter attainable to by reason or revelation.  It is the answer the mind gives to the question: What does the revelation or the faith mean?  Now in this the church teaches the revealed principles on which the mind operates, and teaches them infallibly, and with divine authority; but the operations themselves are strictly human operations, the operations of our own understanding, reason and judgment, and as free as any mental operations are or can be.  What we are bound by faith to do, is to preserve intact the revealed principle, and all the church does or attempts to do in the case, is to intervene to define the principle, the article, dogma, or proposition of faith, whenever we deny, pervert, or mutilate it.  She in her authoritative character intervenes only to preserve, in its purity and its integrity, the revealed word.  Her definitions are designed to guard the word against suffering from human rashness, ignorance, or error.  They do not deny the freedom of the mind, or interfere with our free understanding, explication, and appropriation of the word, but simply define beyond what bounds we cannot go without departing from the truth, or going against the word itself.

The definitions of the church have something of the character of criminal jurisprudence.  They are not a part of the revelation, - are not necessary to her positive enunciation of the word, or essential to its life and operation; but they are required to vindicate it from error, as criminal courts pass sentences to vindicate the law which has been violated.  Nobody who comprehends any thing of the matter restricts the world to the definitions of the church, or supposes that the definitions either make the faith or cover the whole of the revealed word.  It is not to be supposed that nothing is believed or to be believed that is not formally defined by the church, for her definitions touch only so much of the faith as has been controverted or denied.  But all theological questions, however unsound they may be, that have not been condemned or declared contrary to faith, may be held without incurring the note of heresy, and be freely discussed, pro and con, according to the judgment or prejudices of theologians.  The faith in itself, is one, a whole, a living whole, and its efficiency, in great measure at least, consists in its being received as such, or embraced in its real synthesis; and, hence, definitions which break it into fragments, or present it in detached parts, are in some respects an evil.  They are an evil, insamuch as they tend to present the faith, not as a whole, but in distinct and isolated propositions, which the mind finds it difficult, often impossible, to reunite and integrate in the living unity of truth.  But they are a necessary evil, for, without them the word, owing to the weakness and not unfrequent corruption of the human mind, would itself be corrupted and lost, as it was with the ancient gentiles, and as it is with the modern sects.  It is well that definitions should be authoritatively made when needed to save the integrity of the faith, but it were better, if possible, that none should ever be needed.  It is better to err than never to think, but it is better to think without erring than it is to err, even though we be ultimately set right.

All the mysteries, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, Grace, the Efficacy of the Sacraments, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Last Judgment, the Glorification of the Saints, and the Everlasting Punishment of the Wicked in Hell, are of faith, on which all believers do and must agree.  As to these there is no controversy, or if any, it must be ended at once by authority.  But the explication of these mysteries, so far as explicable they are, their scientific exposition, and their reduction to an intellectual system harmonizing with the whole body of revealed and rational truth, is not faith, but theology; not divine revelation, but the work of the human understanding, operating on revealed principles and principles supplied by natural reason itself.  The mystery itself must be held as revealed by God, and declared by authority, but the scientific exposition, the appropriateness of the analogies by which we seek to explain or understand it, as well as the justness of the arguments by which we seek to defend or vindicate it to natural reason, are to be taken on their merits, are not of faith, are not authoritative any further than rationally convincing, even though used by a pope or council in defining the dogma, or condemning errors opposed to it.  In all that comes within the intelligible order, in all that rests upon the operations of the human understanding, or on the principles of natural reason, the mind is free, and it is and can be bound by no extrinsic authority any further than to leave the dogma or mystery in its purity and integrity.  We gave, for example, in the first of our Essays on the Reformation, a theological exposition of the Trinity, showing its necessity in the very conception of God as real, living being, being in its plentitude, and finding in it the prototype of all creation.  We may have been right, or we may have been wrong, but if we preserved the dogma unimpaired, left standing in all its integrity the ineffable mystery itself, our orthodoxy is unimpeachable, though our theory of the Trinity, our method of explaining or defining it, and the conclusions we drew from it, are untenable.  Authority does not interfere with us, and the church leaves the error to be exposed and refuted by argument, that is, by theologians and philosophers.

The same is to be said of all the sacred mysteries, articles, or dogmas of faith.  Authority guards the mystery, protects the dogma, the revealed word of God, but it does not undertake to protect theology from all error, or to indicate and condemn every false analogy, every unwarranted deduction, every bad or inconclusive argument, to be found in the systems constructed by the human understanding, operating on principles revealed in the word of God.  The church gives free scope to the theologian so long as he does not contradict or impair faith, but she commits herself to no theological theory; and no theory, however widely it may have been accepted, not even that of St. Augustine, or that of St. Thomas, in so far as it is purely theological and the work of the human understanding, that is, in so far as it is theology, not faith, can allege her authority in its favor, or profess to be taught by her divine and infallible authority.  Either St. Augustine or St. Thomas is high authority for what either declares is or is not of faith, and the opinion of either on any question of puer reason deserves great weight, and may be cited as an argument, but never as an authority which must end controversy.  Speculative theology is always more or less affected by the philosophical and psychological doctrine of the theologian, and often by that of the age or nation in which he is bred; and moral theology is often affected by the prevailing political doctrine, and by the theories of psysiologists. The progress of physiological studies, every one knows, has greatly modified many of the decisions of our casuists.  Things once allowed as innocent are now prohibited as sinful; and things once prohibited as sinful are now allowed as innocent.  The church does not profess to have received a revelation of the facts of history, of the science of chronology, astronomy, chemistry, electricity, physics, or geology.  Churchmen and laymen, Christians and infidels, have all to learn these in the same way, and by one and the same discipline; and yet all these sciences are laid more or less under contribution by the theologian, and affect, more or less, not his faith, but his theology.  Many theological disputes would have been speedily ended, if the disputants had known more of physiology, history, chronology, or even of geography.  Theology is, therefore, a human science, and has as a science only the authority of science in general.  In it we have the simple authority of human reason, and can never claim or allege for it the divine infallible authority of the church. 

In examining the claims of the church, or in judging of her character, we must always draw sharply the line of distinction between faith and theology, and remember that we are to hold the church officially responsible, not for the speculations, theories, and opinions of theologians, but only for what she defines or declares to be of faith.  Theological and philosophical, historical and scientific errors even in her clergy make nothing against her claims; and you must convict her of error in her faith before you can deny her infallibility in any matter or in any sense in which she claims to be, or we, her children, are bound to believe her infallible.  She is infallible in the dogma, in whatever pertains to the divine idea, the revealed word, but not in what is human and depends on human reason and science.  Let not non-Catholics bear in mind that Catholics do not assert for the church in matters of faith only a simple external authority or commission to teach,- authority in a simple, legal, forensic sense,- but through her mystic yet real union with Christ her head, the internal and abiding ability to teach infallibly the revealed word of God, a word continuously revealed and ever present to her understanding by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; and let them further bear in mind that this authority extends only to the dogma, and leaves the mind free in all else, so long as it leaves the dogma intact, and they will find nearly all the objections to the teachings of the church removed.  We do not say that their objections to all the theories, notions and practices of Catholics would be removed; but their objections to all that is really Catholic and enjoined by the church, and that is obligatory on us as Catholics, would be obviated.  Entertaining this view, many theologians have from time to time attempted to draw the line between what is strictly faith and what is merely theology.

There are, undoubtedly, many things received among Catholics which the unlearned place on  the same line with faith, that have at best only a theological authority, or are deductions of theologians from revealed principles, or the conclusions drawn by theologians by their own reason operating on divine things.  Many of these are, no doubt, true, and could not be denied without what is technically called error, or at least rashness; but even these are not of faith and withdrawn from free discussion.  Others, again, though suffered to pass without any brand of public censure, are unfounded, doubtful, or of superstitious tendency.  Some of these things we have from time to time averted to and pointed out, things which every Catholic theologian knows are not of faithor exempt from criticism, but which the ignorant and unlearned confound with faith, and suppose cannot be questioned without questioning the faith itself.

Our readers will remember the outcry raised against us for sime time suggestions we threw out with regard to the future condition of the reprobate.  We raise no question whether we were right or wrong, yet the views we seemed to question were only widely received theological opinions, or conclusions.  They were not articles or dogmas of faith enjoined by authority, and their denial, even if an error, was no sin against faith.  Besides, there were respectable theologians who held the views we suggested, and a writer in the London Tablet, who seems to have studied the subject, asserts that they were the views generally held by Catholic theologians prior to Peter Lombard, Magister Sententiarum, in the twelth century.  The questions we raised were simply theological questions, and as such free questions, that is, questions not to be decided by any appeal to authority, but by the evidence and reasons proper in the case.  For if they were not always questions of faith, they could not be made so by any action of authority, since the church has no authority to found or create new articles or dogmas of faith.  Even a consensus theologorum that an opinion is sound, does not evidence it to be of Catholic faith.  The consensus that it is of faith might be conclusive, but the consensus that it is the true opinion, only proves that such is and always has been the opinion of theologians, and by no means takes it out of the category of opinion and places it in that of faith.  To deny it, may or may not be rash, according to the reason one has for denying or not denying it, but it is not and cannot be heresy.

Theologians differ as to the authority and infallibility of the pope, and have by their discussions so obscured the question that it is not easy for an unlearned man like ourselves to say precisely how much or how little on the subject is of faith, or pertains to the dogma.  That the pope, that is to say, the archbishop of Rome, as successor of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, chief of the apostolic college, is the visible head, primate, or supreme pastor of the whole church, is evidently of faith, as is the assertion also, that his primacy is a primacy of authority or jurisdiction, not simply a primacy of honor.  That the pope has authority to feed, rule, and govern the church, both clergy and laity, as their chief pastor, by the institution of Christ, is difined by the Council of Florence.  Yet the Greeks, who deny his supremacy and refuse to submit to his authority, have never, as we are aware, been treated for that as heretics, but only as schismatics.

The more prevalent theological doctrine is, that the pope speaking ex cathedra is infallible, that is, as some interpret it, speaking offically to the whole church, or as others interpret it, the pope, with his auditory, or speaking with the whole church.  That the papal definitions are not irreformable, and therefore that the pope in defining questions of faith and morals is not infallible, is maintained by the French clergy in the four articles adopted by them in 1682, and those articles have never been condemned as heretical.  They no doubt gave great offence at Rome, and they were instantly annulled, as to their legal effect upon the French clergy, by the reigning pontiff, Innocent XI, but they have never been declared contrary to dogma, and Gallicans, who adhere to them receive absolution at the hands of the priest as orthodox Catholics.  Evidently, then, we cannot say it is of faith that the pope is infallible in defining questions of faith and morals.  We have always maintained and maintain that it is the sounder theological opinion that he is infallible by virtue of divine assistance when solemnly deciding litigated points of faith or morals for the whole church, but we have never maintained and do not maintain that it is of Catholic faith.  They who deny it may be as orthodox as they who affirm it, though, in our judgment, not as good logicians or as sound theologians. 

The same distinction between faith and theology must be made when treating of the power which the popes in the middle ages exercised over temporal princes.  The right of the pope, as supreme pastor and highest court of conscience, to take congnizance of the conduct of all the faithful under its relation to the law of God, is, if not of faith, so intimately connected with the dogma, as to be hardly separable from it.  To us it seems to be the dogma itself stated in its practical form.  The pope, then, representing the church in her supreme and spiritual authority, would have the same right to judge princes as subjects, and to pronounce sentence against them for their violation of the Christian law, to admonish, rebuke, reprove, interdict, and excommunicate them for their crimes, and for their crimes committed in their public as well as in their private capacity.  So much we suppose to be really, if not formally, of faith.  All beyond this is not faith, but theological conclusion, or theological opinion.  It is, we suppose, of faith that the pope represents Christ upon earth in his pontificate.  Christ unites in himself the offices of prophet, priest, and king, but it is not of faith that the pope is his vicar on earth in all three of these offices.  The first, that of prophet or teacher, the pope represents with the whole church, and it is not of faith that it is filled by the pope alone, although it is not unlawful to hold that it is.  The offices of priest and king united in Christ are confessedly separated in his earthly representatives.  The sacerdocy or pontificate is given in its plentitude to the pope or supreme pontiff, but it is not of faith that he has given him also the kingship, and we think that it is of faith that he has not.  The pope is alter Christus as priest or pontiff, but not as king.  As Pope Gelasius says to the emperor Anastasius, our Lord has established two powers for the government of the world, the pontifical and the imperial, the spiritual and the secular or temporal.  The pope, then, has the supreme pontifical power, but, as vicar of Christ, no kingly or temporal power, and therefore has no authority over temporal sovereigns, except what is inherent in the pontificate, or in the spiritual over the secular.  God gave the pontificate and priestly power to the clergy, or the pontifex maximus, but he gave the temporal or secular sovereignty to the king, or rather to the people, and therefore the pontiff has no right according to his own will and pleasure, by virtue of his pontificate, to bestow or take away crowns, to establish or subvert the constitutions of states and empires.  He cannot dispose sovereigns and absolve subjects from their allegiance; he can only judicially declare when, according to the law of God, the sovereign has forfeited his right to reign, and the oath of allegiance ceases to bind the subject.  More than this we are not aware any pope has ever claimed, and this is all we understood ourselves to maintain in our essays on the papal power, which called forth against us the animadversion of several bishops, especially Bishop O’Connor, of Pittsburgh.  At least, this is all we ever supposed we were maintaining as of Catholic faith.  The French clergy, in the four articles already referred to, deny that the pope receives in the power of the keys any power to dispose of the crowns of sovereigns; and, although we do not accept those articles as good theology, we are obliged to confess that they contradict no article or dogma of Catholic faith.

The temporal power of the pope, or his sovereignty of the Roman states, is a different question, and wholly outside of faith.  The pope is actually pontiff and prince, as were at one time nearly all the bishops of western, northern, and central Europe, and as very few of them now are.  The union of the pontificate and principality in one and the same person, though not forbidden, is not by virtue of the institution of Christ.  It is a union that grew up with the feudal constitution of Europe, but never had any ground in the essential constitution of the church.  It is not of Catholic faith that the supreme pontiff should be a secular prince, or that his temporal principality is essential, necessary, or even useful in the maintenance of his spiritual independence, or the discharge of his spiritual functions.  The pope, no doubt, holds his temporal power by a good and valid title, and he cannot, more than any other sovereign, be deprived of it without crime.  Yet he holds it by the same tenure and subject to the same conditions as any other secular sovereign holds his estates.  The question is properly between him and his own subjects, with which foreigners have no right to intermeddle.  In other words, so far as we can see, as we have maintained, the pontifical and secular powers are separated by Christ, the temporal sovereignty of the pope stands on the same footing as all legitimatesecular sovereignty, and is neither more nor less sacred.  He can abdicate it if he and his subjects shoose, and he can, if he judges best, insist upon retaining it, and maintaining it by force.  In other words, as temporal sovereign, he has all the rights and duties of other sovereigns.  The religious question is only accidentally associated with the temporal sovereignty question.

The government of the church and the government of the papal states have, to a great extent been mixed up together, and it is obvious that they cannot be separated now without great inconvenience to ecclesiastical administration.  The Holy Father himself and the bishops recently assembled at Rome, assert that the maintenance of the temporal sovereignty is, in the present state of the world, necessary to the interests of religion.  This, though not a definition of doctrine, and not an assertion that binds the Catholic conscience or judgment as an article of faith, or as a formal judicial sentence of a supreme court, is yet not to be treated with levity, or set aside as of little account.  It is an assertion deserving of grave consideration, and with us it is of controlling authority.  We could not maintain the contrary without placing ourselves in opposition to the general opinion of Catholics, and that too, when, after all, we cannot say absolutely that they are wrong, or that we are right, and when also our opposition can do hardly any good and might do some harm.  We have never, as it has been calumniously alleged, attacked the temporal sovereignty of the pope, and have never defended those who attacked it.  We believe two years ago, considering things as they then were, that the interests of religion and civilization could be better promoted by the Holy Father voluntarily ceasing, than by his continuing to be a temporal prince.  The opinion we had a right to maintain and to express, for it was in violation neither of Catholic faith, nor of Catholic morals.  But as the opinion was not approved by the pontifical government, and as the Holy Father, with whom alone rests its adoption or rejection, has decided, with the approbation of the great majority of the bishops of the Catholic world, to pursue a very different policy, it would be at best only a piece of impertinence for us to continue to urge it.  Besides, many things have changed since we expressed the opinion, and the time when the policy we urged could effect the particular good we hoped from it, has gone by.  The unity of Italy, which might have been secured then in spite of France, and as a counterpoise to France, and also without confirming the Italians in their hostility to the Holy See, is now apparently impracticable, or at least impracticable without forcing Italy into heresy and schism.  Appearances indicate that Italian unity has failed, and that the Emperor of the French hopes yet to carry out the policy of a confederated Italy, as indicated in the treaty of Villafranca.  The Old World is yet ripe for the policy we have recommended – the complete separation of church and state, or for abandoning that admixture of civil and ecclesiastical administration, which grew up after the Roman Empire became Christian, and received its fullest development in feudal Europe. 

It is of faith that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, all things visible and invisible, but it is not of faith that this earth was created at first, and only about seven thousand years ago, precisely as we now find it; nor has the church, by any act of authority, declared that the order of creation, given by Moses in the first chapter of Genesis, is to be understood in a literal and historical sense, or not as a philosophical and moral order, as St. Augustine explains it.  The dogma that Moses wished expressly to impress upon the Hebrew people, in opposition to the prevailing errors of gentile philosophy, is the grand fact, that God created the world, did not simply form, fashion, generate, or evolve it from himself, but actually created it from nothing, by his own word, his own power.  This, we take it, is the essential dogma, and that the questions, whether the earth came forth from his hand, as geologists now find or think they find it; whether it was created in a rude and elementary state, and has come to its present state by the action of secondary causes; or, whether it subsisted a long time, and underwent numerous changes before man was created to till it, are questions, not of faith, but of science, and must be determined according to the discoveries and inductions of scientific explorers.  For ourselves personally, we think geological science is as yet too recent and too imperfect for full confidence to be placed in its inductions and theories, but we see no objection on the side of faith to giving the geologist as long a series of ages as he can ask for to explain the phenomena he discovers.  We are not aware that the Usherian chronology is a matter of faith, or, as to that matter, even the chronology of our Hebrew Bible.  The Greek fathers did not follow the Hebrew chronology, and that of the Septuagint differs from it not a little.  We are not aware that the church has ever decided that the exact age of the world is a matter of revelation, or decided authoritatively how many centuries have elapsed since the creation.  We confess that if we do not demand such a long period to explain the changes and phenomena recorded in civil and political history, as the geologist does those embedded in rocks, and indicated by the courses of rivers, positions of lakes and seas, etc., we should find it a great convenience in doing it to be allowed more than forty centuries between the creation and birth of our Saviour.  The need of a wider margin, we apprehend, is felt by all who have devoted themselves with a little attention to the study of the rise, progress, decline, or loss of ancient civilizations. 

There are many things asserted by theologians, which, even though they be true, or at least probably true, are yet not of Catholic faith or to be received on the authority of the church, as contained in the revealed word of God.  It is of faith that among the most noble creatures of God are angels; but it is not of faith that the angels are incorporeal, or that they are divided into nine or ten choirs, as asserted by Dionysius the Aeropagite, in his Celestial Hierarchy, or by someone who writes under his name.  It is of Catholic faith that there is a purgatory, but not that it is a place, that its punishment is by literal fire, or that such and such is the degree or duration of its suffering.  It is of faith that souls suffering in purgatory are helped by the suffrages of the living, especially by the sacrifice of the mass, but not that the suffrages or the sacrifice actually obtain their release, or that the church has any power, except per modum suffragii, to remit their guilt.  The just may help others by their prayers, but it is not of faith that the penances they perform or submit to for them, benefit them, except as so many good and fervent prayers to God in their behalf.  It is of faith that children, dying in infancy without baptism, never see God in the beatific vision, but it is not of faith that they do or do not suffer the tortures of hell.  It is of faith that the righteous enter into eternal life, and are forever blest in the vision of God, and that the wicked dying in their sins, go into hell, and are forever tortured in the gehenna of fire, but it is not of faith that the fire is literal, material fire, or that, though the sufferings can never end, they receive no mitigation. 

It is of faith that the church has power to grant indulgences, and that indulgences are  profitable, but it is not of faith that be them the church remits the temporal guilt, or any portion of the temporal guilt, in either the living or the dead, that remains unexpiated or unremitted before God, except per modum suffragii.  It is disputed among theologians, whether indulgences conceded by the church are to be understood as simple relaxations of the canonical penances imposed by the early discipline of the church, or whether they are to be understood as a relaxation of the temporal penalty remaining before God and due ex natura rei to sin, even after the external guilt has been remitted.  The latter opinion is commonly held and currently insisted on; but as Holden, in his Analysis of Faith, says, it is not of Catholic faith, and therefore we maintain without heresy, the opinion that the church, in granting indulgences, only relaxes her own canons.  Father Veron says it is not of faith, that in the use or concession of indulgences, are remitted the temporal penalties due after sin has been forgiven in foro Dei, either in purgatory or in this life.  Suarez says, “Some Catholics hold that indulgences do not remit the penalty due to God, but simply remove the obligation of performing the canonical penance enjoined by the church.”  But however this may be, it is not of Catholic faith that the church can, in conceding and indulgence, remit the penalty imposed by divine law, immediately and by the simple force of the indulgence itself, or by simple condonation of the penalty to be atoned for, either in purgatory or in this life.  It is further yet from faith that the church can concede a true indulgence, so that it is a remission of punishment to the dead, still less that she will do it, except per modum suffragii.  Indulgences, whether conceded for the living or the dead, beyond the relaxation of canonical penances enjoined by the church herself in her early discipline, are, so far as faith affirms, or the church herself teaches, efficacious only as the prayers or suffrages of the church, and according to the measure of the piety and sanctity of those who offer or beseech them.  It may be that many people regard indulgences as something more, and suppose that when they have performed the conditions annexed to the concession, the remission follows as a matter of course, and we say not that it does not; we only say that it is not of faith that it does.  The indulgences of beads, crucifixes, medals, pictures, and the like, only pledge the prayers or suffrages of the church to those who use them according to her intent, and her prayers no doubt are always of value.  But if any one supposes that his beads can be so indulged that it is certain that a soul will be released for every bead on which he says a prayer, he supposes what is not of Catholic faith, and what no principle of Catholic faith warrants.  The indulgence may be obtained, the church promises the help of her prayers in obtaining it, but no remission of temporal any more than of eternal guilt is possible without intrinsic virtue, a virtue possible only by real union with Christ our Lord in the regeneration.  We can obtain real indulgences for others, whether in this life or in purgatory, but only so far as God, in consideration of the suffrages, bestows on them graces which unite them to him, or prepares them for entrance into his presence.  Our suffrages may solace souls suffering in purgatory, but it is not of faith that they can obtain their release or shorten the time they must suffer.  The true Catholic accepts with gratitude indulgences conceded by the church as the pledge of her suffrage, but he seeks rather the virtues which merit the indulgence than the indulgence itself.  We may add in concluding this point, that nothing of what theologians say of the treasury of the church, or of the accumulation in her treasury of the merits of saints from their works of supererogation, which she can bestow in indulgences on others to make up for their own deficiency, as if the merits of one, save per modum suffragii, could be transferred to others on the principle of the communion of saints, is by no means of Catholic faith, and enters not into the official and authoritative teaching of the church.  We can none of us atone for one another before God.  Christ alone could atone for our sins, and his atonement actually frees us only as we become united to him by grace as our head, so that we merit in him as the member merits in the head.

It may be true, as the Molinists teach, that grace will be given to every man who makes a diligent use of his natural faculties and the light that he has, but it is not of faith.  It is of faith that no one can be saved out of the church, but it is not of faith that none are in the church who are not joined to her visible communion.  It is not of faith that it is necessary, necessitate medii ad salutem, that all should believe explicitly the doctrine of the Trinity, or that of the Incarnation, but we should suppose it necessary to believe them at least implicitly.  It is of faith that it is lawful to invoke or pray to the saints, and therefore no Catholic can say that it is unlawful, but there is no precept that makes it obligatory upon any Catholic to do so.  It is of faith that the saints may be honored, venerated, in the old sense of the word, worshipped, but it is not of faith that the woship it is lawful to pay the saints is a relgious worship, or in its nature different from that which is paid by the true man to heroic worth, wherever he finds it.  It is of faith that images and pictures of holy persons may be kept and honored, but it is not of precept that they should be.  The same may be said of relics.  It is of faith that they may be kept and honored, as relics of worth, or of persons deserving of honor, but it is not of faith that any of the relics placed in churches, carried in procession, or preserved by individuals, are genuine.  We bear about with us what purports to be a relic of the true cross, certified as such by the Congregation of Rites, but it is not of faith that it is such or that it is genuine.  It is not of faith that the tunic preserved at Treves and recently visited by some two million of pilgrims is the veritable tunic worn by our Lord.  It is not of faith that the church is infallible in canonizing saints, or that those she points out to be reverenced by the faithful are actually saints in heaven, unless those who are said in Holy Scripture to have “fallen asleep in the Lord.”  It is of faith that miracles continue in the church, but it is not of faith that our Lady actually appeared to the shepherds of La Salette, or that any particular event alleged to be a miracle, even though approved at Rome as such, is really a miracle.  All these things, as particular facts, rest on human testimony, and each man must judge for himself of the sufficiency of the testimony.  Even were there a revelation unquestionably divine affirming or confirming any one of them, it would not, since subsequent to the apostles and canonical writers, make it of Catholic faith, or heresy to deny it.  The denial might be erroneous or rash, indicative of a sceptical disposition or of an unsound judgment, but it would not be heresy.  For ourselves, we believe many things which seem to us sufficiently accredited, or which seem to us congruous to faith, or to be logical deductions from it, which we yet do not hold to be of Catholic faith, or believe with divine faith.  We defend them earnestly with the best reasons at our command, but we do not assert and have no right to assert them as of faith, or as proposed on the authority of the church.  We cannot impose them, but as they do not contradict faith, we may, if in our power, convince by appropriate arguments the free reason of others of their truth.

In pointing out certain things as not of faith, it does not enter into our head to maintain that nothing is to be contented for by theologians not strictly of faith, or that it is a mark of a generous Catholic spirit to seek to reduce Catholic faith to its minimum.  We do it for a very different reason.  We wish, in the first place, to show our non-Catholic readers that many things peculiarly offensive to them, contended for by Catholic theologians, are not obligatory on the believer, because they are not of faith and taught by the church on her divine and infallible authority, and therefore may be received or rejected on their merits, freely examined and judged of by the human reason.  We say frankly to them that our heart’s desire and prayer to God is that they should become Catholics, and we wish them to understand what they must accept as of Catholic faith, in becoming Catholics.  We want them to understand the bounds of authority and the extent of freedom.  Our own belief is that very few would reject our religion, if they did not confound the notions and practices of Catholics outside of the faith and the commands of the church with her real faith and precepts.

We have wished, moreover, to protest against the tendency always in the schools, even among ourselves, to confound theology and discipline with dogma.  Dogma is irreformable, because infallible; discipline is always reformable by the proper authority, because it is founded on human prudence and expediency, and to obtain its end must adapt itself to a state of things constantly changing.  The church is always free to reform her disciplinary canons, and the interests of religion require her to change them as the world itself changes around her, as much as do the interests of a state require it to change its legislation to meet a change of circumstances.  All Catholics are bound to submit to discipline as long as it is in force, and to refrain from all attempts to reform or change it, except in a legal way and by legal means; but we are not aware that it is or ever was a part of the discipline of the church, that the faithful must not express, in an honest and peaceful way, their opinion that certain reforms and changes have, with the lapse of time and change of circumstances, become necessary, providing they do not seek to effect them without or in spite of authority.

Theology being a human science, constructed by human reason operating on principles supplied partly by revelation and partly by the light of nature, can never have the invariability and fixedness of faith.  The elements supplied by the human mind itself, from sources independent of revelation, are variable, and vary with human science itself.  Our human science, whether of history or nature, of man or the earth, is constantly changing, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  It sometimes advances, it sometimes recedes, but so long as the human mind is active, it does not and cannot stand still.  The human mind is limited and infirm, and takes in things not in their wholeness, all at once; it studies and comprehends them under special aspects or in a succession of views.  Even the faith, though all revealed at once, is not taken in and appropriated all at once.  Our understanding of it grows with time and study, and it gains with process of time, as St. Vincent of Lerins teaches, light, distinctness, and evidence.  The fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries modify, not the faith, but the theology of the fathers of the second and third centuries.  St. Thomas modifies the theology of St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great.  He has a different philosophy, and in the human element follows almost servilely Aristotle, whereas St. Augustine inclines much more to the Platonic school.  One’s theology is intimately connected with one’s philosophy, and Gassendi and Condillac could have made nothing of the theology of St. Anselm and St. Bonaventura.  Descartes, in depressing philosophy and rendering it light, frivolous, and superficial, inflicted on theology, both with the orthodox and the heterodox, a blow from which it has not yet recovered.  Theology can fluorish only where thought is strong and masculine, and thought can be strong and masculine only where it is free.

To attempt to give to schools of theology the invariability and fixedness of faith, is to confound faith with theology; and to censure a man because he does not follow in his theology or philosophy whether the earlier or the later scholastics, is to forget the very nature of theology and the human mind.  We find this forgetfulness in the order issued a few years ago by the general of the Jesuits, commanding the professors of philosophy in the colleges of the society to teach the philosophy of Aristotle and Fonseca.  Of Fonseca’s works we know nothing by our own reading, but of Aristotle we do know at least a little, and we know no right that any one has to make him the philosopher of the Christian world, and to impose his system, even as midified by Fonseca, by authority on the intelligence of our sons.  What we object to, however, is not the school or system, but the attempt to impose any system of human reason or science as authority which must be received without question, discussion, or rational conviction.  In theology and philosophy, saving the faith, there is and should be no authority, but that which is founded on human reason itself.  When St. Thomas asserts that this or that is of faith, we take him, not as infallible indeed, but as a very high authority, and we should hesitate long before daring to dissent from him; but when he simply puts forth a theological or philosophical doctrine, we treat it respectfully as the opinion of a great man, but we accept or reject it accoding to our own free judgment of its soundness or unsoundness.  It is not, however, St. Thomas that we dispute, but it is the freedom he exercised for himself that we claim the right to exercise for ourselves.  Now, this freedom all schools tend in their practical development to deny, and they all seek to bind the student to the word of the master, not by virtue of his superior reason, but by reason of his personal authority.  They are not required to follow the founder because by their own reason and judgment they are convinced that he was right, but because he was their master.  Magister dixit, the master has said it, is the only reason that is to be asked or given; a good rule in faith where the Magister is God himself, but a bad rule in theology or philosophy, where the speaker is a man, and really, in the highest sense, no master at all.  

The constitution of the illustrious Society of Jesus binds its professors to teach the theology, and if the theology, the philosophy of St. Thomas, for no man’s philosophy and theology are separable; and its present general, as we have said, issued his order prohibiting its professors from teaching any of the ontological philosophies, and commanding them to teach Aristotle and Fonseca, the latter a Portuguese Jesuit of the sixteenth century.  How can the theological and philosophical professors of the society under these obligations be free either to exercise their own reason and judgment, or to develop and exercise the reason and judgment of the youth committed to their care?  These professors are not themselves free, for they have imposed on them a particular theological and philosophical system, which, whether sound or unsound, is not imposed by divine or infallible authority, and which is not of faith, but is simply a human system, the work of human reason operating on divine and natural things.  What is this but an attempt to give a society existing in the church, and by human authority only, an authority greater than is ever exercised by the church herself, and to theology the invariability and fixedness of faith?  We are, as our pages abundantly prove, no enemy of the Society of Jesus.  We love and honor the members of that society as ranking among the most exemplary, learned, devoted, and heroic of the clergy in any age of the church, but we do not recognize the society as the church of God, or its peculiar theological and philosophical opinions as Catholic faith which cannot be questioned without impeachment of one’s orthodoxy.  Yet it is not the system they teach, but the teaching of it by authority, on the authority of the great names, or of the society itself, not on the authority of reason common to all men, that we object to, and which in our judgment does the harm.  One thing is certain, that under the teaching by authority in matters not of authority, we have seen theology and philosophy decline, thought become superficial and commonplace, and the free and energetic thinkers of the age arrayed against the church.  The fact is unquestionable and deplorable.  Whether between it and the method pursued by the society there is any relation of cause and effect, we pretend not to determine.  Authoritative faith quickens, expands, and invigorates the intellect, for it supplies from God himself the super-rational principles essential to intellectual life; authoritative science, whether theological or philosophical, has necessarily, in our judgment, an opposite tendency, because it suppresses instead of stimulating mental activity, save so far as it stimulates revolt, and drives the revolted to infidelity or scepticism.

The general of the Jesuits orders his professors to teach the philosophy of Aristotle.  He might have done worse.  What was studied in the schools in the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth, as Aristotle’s philosophy, was, in our judgment, far superior to the Cartesianism that supplanted it, or to any philosophy that has been taught in them since.  Descartes upset with his superficial speculations the old systems and no better have taken their place.  Aristotle was a great master of reason, but, as we judge, inferior to Plato, and both he and Plato were inferior to St. Augustine or to St. Thomas.  We dare also to be known to hold that in intellectual power and philosophic genius and attainments, the Abbate Gioberti may rank as the peer of any one of the four.  Yet not by the words of any one of the five in theological or philosophical science would we swear as by the word of a master who must not be disputed, and we object as strenuously to having the Giobertian system taught as authoritative in our schools, as to that of Aristotle as remodelled by Fonseca.

We have mentioned Gioberti, and his name inflames the passions of a thousand hearts; and a thousand angry voices loudly denounce us for presuming to mention him in respectable company.  Why?  Gioberti was a Catholic, even a priest, who, for aught we know, lived and died in the communion of the church.  “No; he was a bad Catholic, no Catholic at all.”  You say so, but we do not know it.  You have said we are no Catholic, and represented us as having apostatized, or as being on the point of apostatizing from the church, and how know we that you have not misrepresented him as you have misrepresented us?  But Aristotle, was he a good Catholic?  He was, as is well known, a Greek, a heathen, and no Catholic at all.  And yet St. Thomas without blame derives nearly the whole of his philosophy from him, and the general of the Jesuits commands his professors to teach his philosophy to our generous and unsuspecting youth.  “But Gioberti’s works are on the Index.”  So we have heard it reported, and so we have seen it stated in the newspapers, but we do not know it.  We have had no official information of it.  But suppose they are, what then?  Unless we have been misinformed, the study of Aristotle’s works in Catholic schools was prohibited by the pope in the twelfth century, and his works themselves were burnt at Paris by the public executioner.  Yet you teach the philosophy of Aristotle.  Has Gioberti ever been convicted of heresy, or of any offence against faith?  If so, it is unknown to us.  If his theology or philosophy is at fault, refute it, prove it so.  You need not calumniate the man, or seek to underrate his personal merits.  “But he wrote Il Gesuita Moderno, and attacked the philosophy and theology of the Jesuits.”  But Father Curci wrote his Divinazione against him, and attacked his theology and philosophy, and that is a fair offset.  To attack the Jesuits may be a sin against charity, but it is not necessarily a sin against faith, or against the church.  If what Gioberti says against the Jesuits is true, it is idle to complain of it; if it is false, refute it.  We have had many falsehoods told against us; some have been told in the form of grave charges against us, at Rome, and we are sufferign throughout the whole Catholic community, at home and abroad, from the false accusations and misrepresentations circulated against us.  What then?  Are we to believe that all who circulate them are bereft of sense and judgment, are totally depraved, and to be looked upon as unworthy to be named in respectable society?  By no means.  We know something of human nature; we know that all men have passions, and that no man is infallible in his understanding.  We may have been misunderstood sometimes through our own fault, sometimes without any moral fault on either side; we may at times have been too trenchant in our remarks, and been understood to be more so than supposed, or than we really were.  Add the usual quantity of exaggeration, imagination, zeal, and false inferences, and it is easy to explain the false representations so injurious to ourselves, or so prejudicial to our character and influence, without being angry with their authors.  What has happened to an individual may happen to a religious community.  The eminent Western prelate said to have lodged with the Propaganda six charges against us, professing to be deduced from a single article of ours, every one of which was a false charge, intended, we presume, no injustice to us, and was moved only by his zeal for the service of religion.  He doubtless read carelessly our article, with a prejudice against us, and substituted, unconsciously, his gloss for the text.  We do not say the case was the same with Gioberti in Il Gesuita Moderno.  But let the society do as we do, receive his false accusations with equanimity, frankly concede to the author his incontestable merits in other respects, put the best construction possible upon his conduct, and leave it to time, or rather, to Providence, to bring out the truth and set all things right.

But all this by the way.  We certainly hold Gioberti as a theologian and philosopher in high esteem, but we will receive, and wish others to receive, nothing on the authority of his name, or because he says it or defends it.  We want freedom of mind in all things not of faith, and will no more consent to be deprived of it by an individual than by a community.  Yet we understand well the tendency of schools to put themselves in the place of the church, or to claim her authority for their teachings.  The tendency is not peculiar to Catholic schools, and there is, as we know by experience, as well as from general principles, more theological and philosophical liberty practically as well as theoretically allowed in them than in non-Catholic schools that make any pretences to a positive faith.  For the distinction which all Catholics recognize, in theory at least, between faith and theology, is unintelligible in the bosom of any Protestant sect.  In the sect all is faith or all is theology, and the only distinction admissible is between fundamentals and non-fundamentals.  But this distinction avails the sect little, for it recognizes no authority competent to make it, and is at best only a reminiscence of the distinction made by the Catholic Church between faith and theology. 

Though we protest against the tendency of the schools to render their systems authoritative and fixed, we recognize as underlying it something good and desirable.  There is under it something conservative and true.  He is only half a man who would sever himself from all connection with the past, and who has no reverence for the great and noble, the wise and just, the learned and heroic of other ages.  We reverence genius and worth wherever we find them, and accept truth wherever we meet it.  Nothing great or good, true or desirable, can ever be introduced absolutely de novo.  Our Lord proclaimed not a new law, but that which had been the law from the beginning.  He came not to destroy the past, but or fulfil it.  The germs of the future are always in the past, and all true progress and real reform consist in developing, not in destroying them.  The real reformer never reproduces the past; he develops and matures the germs it contained.  The condemnation of Luther and Calvin is not that they sought a reformation, either of theology or discipline, for that was needed; but that they sought it by severing themselves from the past life of humanity, and therefore by severing themselves from the future and from God.  The life of humanity flows on in one continuous stream in the church, for in her dwells the Word made flesh.  They who, for the sake of reform, break from the church, break from the life of the God-man, and necessarily lose both the good they have and the good they seek.  All real reforms, all genuine progress must be of the church, in the church, and by the church.  Luther and Calvin saw not this; they, therefore, became schismatics and heretics, and their seed will not inherit the land.