Note on Essay XIII.

{318} A SHORT memoir of Mr. Bowden, prefixed, under date of St. Bede's Day (May 27), 1845, to a posthumous publication, his "Thoughts on the Work of the Six Days of Creation," may be fitly appended to the foregoing Essay, as a record of one whom to have known is to have loved and to hold in perpetual remembrance.

After stating that the small volume in question "was the occupation and solace of the last illness of its author," and, both from its subject and the character of its composition, a suitable memorial of a mind "at once active and serene, deeply interested in the histories both of nature and of man, apprehensive of the Divine Hand in all he found in them, and contemplating with an unclouded faith the tokens they exhibit, and Divine Love and Wisdom," it proceeds to say:

"He was born in London on February 21, 1798; went to Harrow School in 1812; entered as a commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, in Lent term, 1817; and, after obtaining mathematical honours in Michaelmas Term, 1820, proceeded in due course to the degrees of B.A. and M.A.

"In the autumn of 1826 he received the appointment of Commissioner of Stamps, which he resigned in 1840. For some years he was a member of the Geological Society of London. In June, 1828, he married.

"In 1833, and following years, he engaged zealously in the revival which took place of the ecclesiastical principles of the seventeenth century, and was one of the {319} earliest assistants and supports of a friend who at that time commenced the series called the Tracts for the Times. That most intimate friendship, which, begun with the first months of his residence at Oxford, showed itself also in the contributions to the Lyra Apostolica, which bear the signature of a, and in several Articles which he wrote in the British Critic between the years 1836 and 1841.

"The Articles referred to, are those upon the 'Rise of the Papal Power,' in July, 1836; on 'Gothic Architecture,' in April, 1837; on the 'British Association,' in January, 1839; and on 'The Church in the Mediterranean,' in July, 1841.

"In the spring of 1839, he had the first attack of the malady which ultimately proved fatal. On his apparent recovery in the autumn, he went abroad with his family for the winter, which he passed at Malta. On his return in the course of the ensuing spring, he put to press his 'Life and Pontificate of Gregory VII.,' which had been written in previous years, during his intervals of leisure from official duties.

"His complaint returned in the summer of 1843; throughout a long illness, the gifts of clearness and equability of mind, and of a gentle, cheerful, composed spirit, with which he had ever been blessed, were mercifully increased to him. He died in the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1844, in undoubting communion with the Church of Andrewes and Laud. He was buried at Fulham, which had been the home of his childhood and youth. He lives still here, the light and comfort of many hearts, who ask no happier, holier end than his." {320}


The foregoing account of Mr. Bowden's History of Gregory VII. calls for no remark here, except as relates to the subject of the forged Decretals. As public attention has lately been drawn to them, I think it well to make the following extract concerning them, from the "Critique on Mr. Ffoulke's Letter, by H. I. D. Ryder, of the Oratory."


The pseudo-decretals, A.D. 859, "were but indications of a current that had long been setting steadily in one direction. What claims did they really put forward on the Pope's behalf, that had not been made before? Two points in particular have been marked as innovations: 1. The reservation, independently of appeal, of all the criminal causes of all bishops to the Holy See. 2. The assertion of the nullity of any synod, convened without the authority of the Holy See.

"1. As to the first, within the western Patriarchate, at least, it was no new claim; see Pope Xystus III., [A.D. 432-440,] Ep. 10, who reserves all such causes to himself or to his vicar, Anastasius of Thessalonica. For the reservation of the causes of Metropolitans, see Greg. Magn. Ep. ad Episcopos Sardinię, and St. Leo I., Ep. 84.

"As regards the Oriental Bishops, there was a prescriptive reservation to the Pope of the criminal causes of Patriarchs and Exarchs, as being autocephalous: see the Epistle of Julius [A.D. 337-352] ad Euseb.; also the Epistle of the Council of Ephesus [A.D. 481], which speaks of the reservation of the Pope of the cause of John of Antioch. Again, as to the criminal causes of common Bishops, Pope Julius in the same Epistle, although he is speaking particularly of the case of Alexandria, insinuates that it is fitting that these causes also {321} should come before him; and Gelasius [A.D. 492-496], Ep. ad Orient, speaks of an ancient custom to this effect.

"For the reservation of the 'causę majores' to the Vicar of the Holy See, see Xystus III., Ep. 8 ad Syn. Thessalonic. and Innocent I. [A.D. 402-417], Ep. ad Victric. Boniface I. [A.D. 418-422], Ep. 15, insists upon the invariable custom in the Eastern Church of submitting their 'magna negotia' to the Pope ...

"2. As to the second, so far as it establishes the nullity of a diocesan or provincial synod unsupported by the authority of the Pope, it is undoubtedly an innovation. But it is certain, says Blascus (Comment. in Pseud-Isid., ch. 9), that the popes never applied it, even within their own patriarchate, to any synod but such as pretended to be general, or to deal with the reserved causes of bishops. No writer, says the same authority, before the twelfth century applies this prohibition to synods generally; and the Roman correctors of Gratian, Adnot. ad Can. 4, Hist. 17, limit it expressly to General Synods.

"3. Two other points have been sometimes regarded as novelties: the extension of the right of appeal to clerics generally, and the anticipation of judgment by an appeal to Rome, instead of appealing from the sentence, when pronounced. As regards the former, Dr. Döllinger remarks, (Church Hist., vol. iii., § 7,) that the appeal of simple priests to Rome was by no means uncommon, previous to the pseudo-decretals. As regards the latter, it is sufficient to observe that Hincmar, in his controversy with Nicholas I. concerning Rothad, Bishop of Soissons, whom he had deposed, justifies himself solely on the ground that Rothad had withdrawn the appeal, by which he had at first attempted to bar the proceedings of his judges. I think after this we {322} may very contentedly acquiesce in Ballerini's moderate and judicial summing-up, when he says, in his Essay on the Canons, part iii., cap. 6, § 3, that, when these decretals appeared, they represented a discipline, which was already forming, particularly in those parts where they had their birth.

"This judgment of Ballerini's is so amply borne out by two non-Catholic writers of different nationalities and different schools of thought, but like one another, at least, in their learning and their candour, that I cannot forbear quoting them. The first is Neander (Church History, vol. vi., p. 7, ed. Bohn). He says, 'He, the pseudo-Isidore, was at all events but the organ of a tendency of the religious and ecclesiastical spirit which prevailed with the great masses of the men amongst whom he lived. He had no idea of introducing a new code; but only of presenting, in a connected form, the principles which must be recognized by every one as correct, and on which depended the well-being of the Church ... In truth, even what had been said by Leo the Great [A.D. 440-461] concerning the Pope's primacy over the whole Church, involves the principle of all that is to be found in the decretals; though Leo could not bring into effect, in his own age, those outlines of the ideal of a papacy which floated before his mind.'

"The second is Mr. Bowden, who speaks thus in the Introduction to his Life of Gregory VII., p. 56: 'The immediate effect of the forgery was rather to sanction and consolidate relations already existing between the different orders of the Christian hierarchy, than to introduce new ones; and, though the work, having once been received, undoubtedly did much towards handing down in its completeness the system of Papal monarchy to subsequent ages, it derived its own weight at the epoch {323} of its origin, from the tendency which already existed in that system to perfect and extend itself.'

"Even Dean Milman, in spite of a decided anti-papal bias, is obliged to admit (Latin Christ., vol. ii., p. 307) that it cannot be proved that the pseudo-decretals contain anything absolutely new, anything that had not been said before.

"If ... the Papal Monarchy be a usurpation, and destructive of that economy which Christ meant should reign throughout His Church, at least it is undeniable that the Church from the beginning bore and fostered the germ within her. To the Bishop of Rome all may appeal, and from him none. He is the judge of all, whom none may judge. Every corner of the vineyard is open to him, who is its guardian, whenever the faith or peace of the Church is in danger. No canon avails without his sanction; and it is for him to interpret the canons according to the exigencies of time and circumstance. What the ancient Church does not claim for the Pope, she allows him to claim for himself. Restrictive laws seem to have been made for others, not for him. Patriarchs, the most ancient and the most august, are keenly criticized and sharply rebuked, if they speak proud things, or interfere with even the humblest of their neighbours; the Bishop of Rome alone, it seems, cannot exalt himself above his rightful place, or intrude where he is not due. If he is rebuked, it is by heretics like the Eusebians, whom he detects and punishes; or if a Saint says a sharp word, the Church lets it fall to the ground, as if it knew not what he said ... "

Here I interrupt the course of Mr. Ryder's argument to refer to my own Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, in which I have been led to enumerate such testimonies in behalf of the authority of the Holy {324} See, and the Roman Church, as occur in the first three centuries, and do not fall within the range of his survey of the history. "Faint they may be one by one," I say, "but at least they are various, and are drawn from many times and countries, and thereby serve to illustrate each other, and form a body of proof." For instance, to St. Clement, one of the first successors of St. Peter, the Corinthians have recourse in their domestic dissensions, and he, in the name of his Church, writes to them a letter of exhortation and advice; while St. Ignatius, his contemporary, who gives his counsels freely to various churches of Asia, utters not one word of admonition in writing to the Roman Church, and calls it "the church which has the first seat" in its place. Again St. Polycarp of Smyrna, in the next generation, betakes himself to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the heretic Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, goes off to Rome; and we read of Soter, as observing the custom of his church, when he sent alms to the churches of the empire, and as "affectionately exhorting those who came to Rome," in the words of Eusebius, "as a father his children." To Rome the Montanists came from Phrygia to gain the countenance of its bishop; and Praxeas, also, in order to expose them; Pope Victor pronounces the Asian churches excommunicate, and Irenęus, in his interposition, questions, not his right but the charity of his act. The same Saint speaks of Rome as the church in which the churches from every side centre, and as being pre-eminently the "principal" church. He says it was founded by St. Peter and St. Paul, and he prefers its tradition to that of other churches; Tertullian, too, says that the Apostles poured out into it their whole doctrine; and, after he was a Montanist, acknowledges, while he complains, that {325} the Pope acted as a Pontifex Maximus and Bishop of bishops. Pope Dionysius entertains the accusation brought by Alexandrian priests against their Bishop in a matter of doctrine; and forthwith asks of him an explanation, which the latter grants without any protest. Cyprian speaks of Rome as "the See of Peter and the principal church;" and, when he and Firmilian withstood Pope Stephen who maintained the validity of heretical baptism, the Pope carries his point against the churches of Africa, Egypt, and Asia Minor. Basilides, deposed in Spain, betakes himself to Pope Stephen. Fortunatus and Felix, deposed by Cyprian, have recourse to Pope Cornelius. So much in the first three centuries.

In the fourth, Pope Julius [A.D. 337-351], as we learn from Athanasius, remonstrates with the Arian party for "proceeding on their own authority," "for what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you." "Julius wrote back," says Socrates, "that they acted against the canons, because they had not called him to a Council, the ecclesiastical canon commanding that the Churches ought not to make canons beside the judgment of the Bishop of Rome." Sozomen says, "It was a sacerdotal law, to declare invalid whatever was transacted beside the judgment of the Bishop of the Romans." The Arians themselves, whom the Pope was withstanding, were forced to confess that Rome was "the school of the Apostles, and the Metropolis of orthodoxy from the beginning." Pope Damasus [A.D. 366-386] calls the Eastern bishops his "sons": "In that your charity pays the due reverence to the Apostolic See," he says, "ye profit most yourselves, most honoured sons;" and he speaks of himself as "placed in the See of that holy Church, in which the holy Apostle taught how becomingly to direct the helm to which we have succeeded." {326}  "I speak," says St. Jerome to the same Pope, "with the successor of the Fisherman and the disciple of the Cross. I, following no one as my chief but Christ, am associated in communion with thy blessedness, that is, with the See of Peter. Whoso gathers not with thee, scatters." St. Basil entreats the same Pope to send persons to settle the troubles of Asia Minor; "we are asking nothing new," he says, "for we know from tradition of our fathers, and from writings preserved among us, that Dionysius," a Pope of the third century, "sent letters of visitation to our church of Cęsarea, and of consolation, with ransomers of our brethren from captivity."

Pope Siricius [A.D. 386-398] says: "We bear the burden of all who are laden,—yea, rather the blessed Apostle Peter beareth them in us, who, as we trust, in all things protects and defends us, the heirs of his government." "Diligently and congruously do ye consult the arcana of Apostolical dignity," says Pope Innocent [A.D. 402-417] to the African Bishops, "the dignity of him on whom, besides those things which are without, falls the care of all the churches, following the form of the ancient rule, which you know, as well as I, has been preserved always by the whole world." And Pope Celestine to the Bishops of Illyria [A.D. 422-432], "About all men we especially have anxiety, we, on whom, in the holy Apostle Peter, Christ conferred the necessity of making all men our concern, when He gave him the keys of opening and shutting." [Note] Mr. Ryder continues:—

"Boniface I. (an. 422) Ep. xiv. 'To the Bishops of Thessaly,' ap. Coust. Ep. Rom. Pont. p. 1037. 'The institution of the Universal Church began in the honour granted to St. Peter, in whom the supremacy (regimen et summa) was established. As religion prospered, from {327} him as from its source, ecclesiastical discipline flowed throughout all the churches. Nor do the canons of Nicęa testify otherwise; inasmuch as they do not venture to add aught to him, seeing that nothing could be given above his deserts, and knowing that all things had been given him by the words of Christ. It is certain, then, that this See stands, in relation to the churches spread throughout the world, as the head to its members; from whom, if any divide himself, he becomes an outcast from the religion of Christ, since he is external to its organization.' And Ep. xv., l. c., p. 1042: 'None ever raised his hand against that apostolic height whose judgment it is not lawful to retract; none has shown himself a rebel towards it, unless he would bring judgment upon himself.'

"Xystus III. (an. 435) to the Synod of Thessalonica, l. c., p. 1263: 'Let the Metropolitans of each province enjoy the rank which is their due, saving the privilege of him (the Papal Vicar) whom the most honourable might honour. Let them have the right of ordaining in their provinces, but let no one venture to ordain without his knowledge and goodwill, whom, in all cases of ordination (i.e. of bishops) we would have consulted.'

"Gelasius (circa an. 480) to Faustus (Labbe, tom. v., p. 297): 'The canons have decided that no one whatever shall appeal from this See; and so provide that it shall judge the whole Church, and itself be judged of none ... Timothy of Alexandria, Peter of Antioch, Peter, Paul, John, not one, but many, bearing the episcopal name, by the authority of this Apostolic See alone, were cast down ... Therefore we are in no fear lest the Apostolic judgment be reversed, to which the voice of Christ, tradition, and the canons, have given the decision of controversy throughout the whole Church.' {328}


"The second count ... takes the form of a reflection upon the honesty of the Holy See. But if there is a point in the whole subject, upon which there is a consensus of writers, Protestant and Catholic, it is precisely this, that the Pope had nothing to do with the forgery of the pseudo-decretals; and moreover that they were not forged in his interest. They were forged in Gaul, not in Rome; and their immediate object was to relieve the bishops and the inferior clergy from the tyranny of the Metropolitans, who were but too frequently the tools of the secular power ... When they exalt the Pope, it is only to pull themselves out of the mire; and it has been observed (see Blascus, l. c., c. 10, seq.), that these decretals, where the interests of the episcopate are not at stake, do not concern themselves to uphold even the well-established privileges of the Holy See, and in some cases (whether wittingly or not is uncertain) actually contravene them  ... '

"But ... 'if the Pope [St. Nicholas I.] be not the coiner, he is at least the conscious utterer of this false coin; he had duplicates of all the genuine letters of his predecessors in his portfolio; and, if he did not actually discover that these were forgeries, it was because he felt they were, and would not look.' … This assumption is simply false. On the contrary, I maintain that the fact of the duplicate of a papal letter not being found in the Roman archives, not only did not prove it spurious, but in very many instances could not create any fair presumption against it. It is true that the Popes, like other bishops, were in the way of laying up by their archives copies of the letters they wrote, and of the more important letters which they received. We have frequent {329} references and appeals, in the letters to and from the Holy See, to the contents of the Roman archives; but it is impossible not to be struck with the short periods of time which these appeals cover. I think I am right in saying, that, with one exception, they do not extend beyond a century, and that most fall far short of it. I know of only one exception, and that was when, in 531, Theodore of Thessalonica produced from his archives Papal letters from Damasus downwards, a space of about 150 years, all extant and all genuine, and asked Boniface II. to verify them from the Roman scrinia. Curiously enough, we do not know how far the Roman scrinia stood the trial, for the document (see Labbe, tom. v., p. 843) is imperfect.

"1. Mabillon (de re Diplom. Supp. p. 5), enumerates the many dangers that beset the ancient archives. They were, moreover, peculiarly liable both to be neglected, and tampered with, owing to the fact that the notarii and scriniarii, who were alone capable of reading, transcribing, and classifying the manuscripts, were a small, and consequently irresponsible class. This was so much felt to be the case, but we find that, from time to time, custodes were appointed to watch over the honesty of the notarii, and keep them to their duty. The irresponsibility of the notarii was, of course, in direct ratio to the want of culture of their time and country; thus, in Italy, we may presume they had things very much their own way during the latter half of the fifth and throughout the seventh and eighth centuries. So deplorable was the state of knowledge in Italy, and particularly in Rome, in the seventh century, owing to the repeated wars of barbarians that had swept over the face of the country, that we find Pope Agatho [A.D. 678-682], in his letter to the Emperor Constantine, thus excusing the rudeness {330} of his legates Labbe, tom. vii., p. 655: "Among us, planted as we are in the midst of the Gentiles, and winning our daily bread most precariously by bodily toil, how should literary knowledge in its fulness be found, more than that we preserve, in simplicity of heart and undoubtingly, what has been canonically defined by our holy predecessors in the Apostolical See, and by the five Holy Councils, of the faith delivered to us by our fathers?" And again, in his Synodical Letter to the same Emperor, loc. cit., p. 707: 'As regards secular knowledge, I think there are not any in our times, who may boast of having reached its summit; since, in our land, the wrath of contrary nations rages, fighting, overrunning, and ravaging; and ... the ancient revenue of the Church has gradually, under diverse misfortunes, melted away. But our faith remains our one support, with which to live is our glory, and for which to die is our eternal recompense.'

"Under such circumstances, nothing is more natural than that the Roman archives should have sustained vast and frequent losses, and we are not surprised when Baronius (tom. v., an. 381, xxxi) points out to us that the Roman archives had evidently suffered a loss between the times of Damasus and Gregory I. [A.D. 366 and 590]. He quotes St. Gregory, lib. vi., Ep. 15 (ed. Ben. lib. vii., Ep. 34) to the effect that the Roman Church knew nothing of the condemnation of the Eudoxians, except from doubtful or corrupt sources, and remarks that, seeing that several of the ancient Fathers speak of Eudoxius as accused and convicted of frightful heresy, St. Gregory's words clearly show, 'jacturam passa esse Romana archivia.' I may observe that the letter of Liberius to Constantius (see Coustant., p. 423,) speaks of Eudoxius as having refused to condemn Arius, and {331} being therefore excommunicate; and this letter must have been originally in the Roman archives.

In this same letter Liberius testifies that he has got the letter of Alexander of Alexandria to Pope Silvester, concerning the Arian controversy, 'manent literę;' and Coustant remarks that, of course, there were numbers of letters to and from Silvester on the same subject, though none have come down to us.

"In the eighth century, St. Boniface of Mayence, Ep. 15, tells Nothelm of Canterbury that, as regarded the famous letter of St. Gregory to Augustine, the Roman scriniarii had looked in the archives of the Roman Church, and could not find it.

"In 743, the Germans rested their right to marry 'in quartā generatione,' upon an indult of Pope Gregory II., which could not be discovered in the Roman archives; but Pope Zachary did not on that account reject it as spurious ... 'Although we cannot find the document, we do not hesitate to believe it genuine' (see Blascus, l. c., cap. iv.)

"We have only to look through Coustant's volume, to see that numbers of the Papal letters do not come from the Roman archives, but from those of other Sees, particularly Vercellę, and the famous Gallic Sees of Arles and Vienne. And the editor of the 'Bullarium Romanum, Rome 1739,' in his preface, after noticing the losses which the Roman archives had sustained, particularly in Papal letters, from Leo I. to Innocent III. [A.D. 440 to 1198], observes, that numbers of these autographs, 'of which no longer any mention or trace remains in the Roman archives,' have been found intact in the archives of other cathedral towns and monasteries.

"It has been said, that the fact that so many of the pseudo-decretals profess to be the letters of Popes of the {332} times of persecution, should have awaked the Pope's suspicions. But it must be remembered, first, that there is great reason for supposing that St. Nicholas never saw more than certain portions of these decretals, with which he shows an acquaintance, although he nowhere formally quotes them; secondly, that it is well known that the Popes, in the times of persecution, did write, and write frequently,—witness the genuine fragments of their writings in Eusebius, Hilary, and elsewhere. Moreover, the Fathers testify an acquaintance with other documents which are wholly lost. St. Augustine, for instance, Ep. 43 (olim 162) n. 16, shows that he knew, in extenso, the decree of Pope Melchiades [A.D. 310-314] condemning Donatus; and St. Jerome speaks of the four letters written by St. Cornelius [A.D. 250-252] to Fabius, as extant in his time.

"There was nothing, then, in these relics of the times of persecution, in that age, to awaken suspicion; whilst there was much to attract devotion. Men naturally welcomed their discovery with the same devotion, and certainly with no greater surprise, than they did the kindred discovery of the martyrs' bodies. St. Nicholas, in his letter to the Bishop of Gaul (Labbe, tom. x., p. 282), shows what idea was uppermost in his mind, when he refers to those decrees, of which he had seen something, and heard more, as the decrees of those 'quorum videmus Deo auctore Sanctam Ecclesiam aut roseo cruore floridam, aut rorifluis sudoribus et salubribus eloquiis adornatam.'

"Again, it must be remembered that the Holy See received these decretals from the Gallic Church, upon whose learning it had been taught to depend in its controversies with the civil power and Greek heresy.

"We find a remarkable instance of this dependence {333} recorded by Paschasius Radbert, in his Life of Wala (ap. Mabillon Oct. S. Ord. Ben., sęc. iv., part i., p. 511). He relates that he and Wala (an. 833) showed Gregory IV.—then in France, engaged in the difficult and dangerous task of reconciling the king and his sons,—'sundry documents, confirmed by the authority of the holy Fathers and his own predecessors, against which none might deny that he had the power (forsooth God's, the blessed Apostle Peter's, and his own,) to go and send unto all nations for the faith of Christ the peace of the Churches, the preaching of the Gospel, and the assertion of the truth; and that in him resided the supreme authority and living powers of blessed Peter; in virtue of which he might judge all, and himself be judged of none. Which documents he graciously received, and was exceedingly comforted.'

"Some writers have thought that in this they discovered evidence of the pseudo-decretals; but the idea is very generally abandoned. One strong argument against it appears to me to be the fact, that Agobard, who belonged to the same party as Wala and Radbert, in his letter to the king, which exactly coincides in time with his friends' mission to Gregory, and in which he has the same object in view with them, viz., the exaltation of papal prerogative, grounds his argument exclusively on genuine documents. However this may be, the whole story is a curious illustration of the influence of the French Church upon the Holy See.

"But, not only did the Pope receive these documents from the French Bishops, but they themselves furnished him with what he might well regard as a crucial test of their genuineness. For, even when Hincmar, in his controversy with St. Nicholas, does his utmost to disprove their cogency as law, he never so much as suggests {334} a doubt of their genuineness. It is true that, in his subsequent controversy with Adrian II., Hincmar uses rather different language; but even then he hints at nothing worse than that they have been garbled and interpolated by his own nephew and others, to serve their private ends.

"In the letter to the Bishops of Gaul, quoted above, the Pope clearly seems to indicate other sources of authentic decretals besides the archives; when, in meeting Hincmar's attempt to restrict the legal cogency of decretals to those contained in the Codex of Adrian, he says, 'God forbid that we should not embrace the decretals, which the Roman Church, 'penes se in suis archivis et vetustis rite monumentis recondita venerantur.' The 'vetusta monumenta' no doubt included all such well-authorized collections as the pseudo-Isidorian professed to be.

2. "Besides the fact of the frequent losses which the Roman archives had sustained, rendering their contents at any given time an unsafe criterion of genuineness, it was exceedingly difficult to make out what they did contain. For, as I have observed, only a very small class, the scriniarii, were competent to engage in such a search. These were put upon their oath that they had produced all that they could find regarding the cause in hand, as we read in the Acts of the Sixth Council. And, for these experts, the search was doubtless exceedingly difficult, when covering any considerable length of time, and when documents were wanted, that had not been previously arranged for controversial purposes. Often, indeed, it could have been little else than a wild hunt among boxes of manuscripts in various stages of decay, when the subject of any successful discovery might well be described as 'Deo revelante {335} reperta' (see Nicholas' Letter to Herard, Labbe, tom. x., p. 298).

"Ballerini (St. Leo, tom. i., p. 511), after remarking upon the number of St. Leo's letters that were lost, thus accounts for these and other losses: 'After the general collections of the Canons and Papal letters, originally compiled by private persons for private use, had got so generally into circulation that the Popes themselves took their predecessors' letters oftener from these private collections than from the Apostolic scrinia, it came about that the autographs of these same letters, which were in the Apostolic scrinia, gradually falling into neglect, as time went on, perished.'

"This, then, is St. Nicholas' position. He is presented with portions of documents, for we have no proof that they were more, which accurately represent the ecclesiastical spirit of the day, a recommendation, rather than a difficulty, in an uncritical age. Their genuineness is attested by the Church of Gaul, a church incomparably more learned than his own; and attested, moreover, even against that church's interests. The genuineness of these documents was in no sense upon its trial; it was undisputed. The presumption was strongly in favour of the genuineness of documents, containing doctrine so orthodox and so apposite; if any heresy had cropped up in them, then, indeed, it would have been another matter. But more than this, the Pope, even if a doubt of these had crossed his mind, which is in the highest degree impossible, had not, in the Roman archives, any satisfactory test of their genuineness."

Top | Contents | Works | Home


Vid. "Development of Doctrine" [ed. 1878, pp. 157, &c.].
Return to text

Top | Contents | Works | Home

Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright © 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.