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RESULTS OF THE 'EXPOSTULATION.'
§ 1. INTRODUCTORY.
As the excitement attendant on the publication of the Expostulation' (a name henceforth as historical as that of the · Lettres Provinciales,' • Janus,' or The Syllabus ) passes away, all parties, Roman Catholics included, will be prepared to appreciate more justly the arguments of the far-famed writer; and the consequences resulting from his work will obtain the attention which their intrinsic importance deserves.
The Roman Catholics, it must be confessed, have not become excited on this occasion without good reason. Principles which if erroneously, are at least generally (and even by many Roman Catholics) considered to be offensive, extravagant, and untenable; principles tending in the opinion of many to treason and revolution as regards civil governments, and to a prostrate slavery as regards the Papacy; principles held to be as subversive of existing
society as those of the Socialist, the Fenian, the Communist, the Democrat, each in pursuit of his favourite idea ; such principles have for years been preached as the essential doctrines of the Church of Rome. The body thus compromised by its own teachers, remained passive and silent when these principles were announced in its
Can it be a matter of surprise if this reticence caused apprehension even in the minds of friends :if the impression grew that tenets essentially anarchical, and dangerous to society, were rapidly spreading ? Could it in reason be considered otherwise than as a benefit to Roman Catholics themselves, when they were invited to reassure the public mind as to their real principles and purposes, and to clear themselves from the imputation of holding doctrines (not unnaturally attributed to them) which would, in the opinion of most, tend to civil convulsion.
That opportunity, so desirable for the Roman Catholics, however painful in itself, was afforded by the · Expostulation' of one, whose position was so remarkable, that neither Pope nor Emperor could command a wider and more attentive European audience. The words of a power like this it was impossible to ignore: they required a prompt and a satisfactory reply; but that reply was not so readily to be produced. It was a case involving the most delicate considerations, and full of danger in all directions. There was, on the one hand, the risk of avowing and supporting principles which civil governments and society in
general regarded as intolerable. There was the risk, on the other, of seeming to disagree with authorities of such a nature that the very thought was sufficient to make the hair stand on end. Under the pressure of such perplexity it can be no matter of surprise that a tormented prelate lost his temper, made the case personal, and publicly renounced a friendship of forty-five years standing—that Roman Catholic Unions, confounded at the state of affairs, lost their heads and voted Expostulation to be a deliberate insult'-or that an angry priesthood announced, through its press, the hatred of millions' towards their greatest and most zealous benefactor. These outbreaks appeared to most men only to show the necessity of the interrogation which had called them forth.
As time wore on however, replies to the · Expostulation, of various descriptions and from various quarters, began gradually to appear. The world has been taken by surprise by these answers as much as it was by the • Expostulation which called them forth. They have shed an entirely new light upon the Roman Catholic mind. The divergence of opinion which they exhibit is so marked, that Romanism stands amazed at itself. Some, like Dr. Manning, charge the blame of this division to the deliberate malicious intention of the Expostulator. Others, like Father Newman, unwillingly recognising the fact, make light of the difference, as one which may not affect the unity of faith. However it may be accounted for, the fact itself remains undeniable: it is patent to the world. Every one sees
that contradictory principles of the highest importance, both doctrinal and moral, accompanied by much bitter feeling, and mutual alienation of parties, have manifested themselves in the Church of Rome. That antagonism may be consistent with the unity which is regarded as a note of the true Church, Primâ facie it does not seem consistent with that unity. It discloses a society separated by principles apparently irreconcileable. It seems subversive of the Roman idea of the Church as a body instituted for the purpose of preserving unity in faith, and for that reason gifted with infallibility,
Such impressions may be quite erroneous; mature investigation may prove them untenable. They are, however, such at least as cannot be dismissed without examination, They press themselves on the attention of Christians generally, and especially that of educated Roman Catholics.
Romanism is, we must remember, totus teres atque rotundus, a system which claims to be harmonious, logically consistent, and perfectly defensible. It considers itself competent to hold its own against all comers; and its most eminent authorities point out the duty and necessity of investigating and understanding its argumentative basis. •Enquiry' says Father Newman, "implies doubt, and investigation does not imply it, and those who assent to a doctrine or a fact, may without inconsistency investigate its credibility. In the case of educated minds, investigations into the argumentative proof of the things to
which they have given their assent is an obligation, or rather a necessity. ... Certainly such processes of investigation, whether in religious subjects or secular, often issue in the reversal of the assents which they were originally intended to confirm ; but to incur risk is not to expect reverse, and if my opinions are true I have a right to think that they will bear examination.''
Fortified by such an authority, I proceed to investigate the existing differences of belief in the Church of Rome.
· Newman, Grammar of Assent, pp. 184, 185.