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{89} SUCH was the origin of that august cultus which has been paid to the Blessed Mary for so many centuries in the East and in the West. That in times and places it has fallen into abuse, that it has even become a superstition, I do not care to deny; for, as I have said above, the same process which brings to maturity carries on to decay, and things that do not admit of abuse have very little life in them. This of course does not excuse such excesses, or justify us in making light of them, when they occur. I have no intention of doing so as regards the particular instances which you bring against us, though but a few words will suffice for what I need say about them:—before doing so, however, I am obliged to make three or four introductory remarks in explanation.

1. I have almost anticipated my first remark already. It is this: that the height of our offending in our devotion to the Blessed Virgin would not look so great in your Volume as it does, had you not deliberately placed yourself on lower ground than your own feelings towards her would have spontaneously prompted you to take. I have no doubt you had some good reason for {90} adopting this course, but I do not know it; what I do know is, that, for the Fathers sake who so exalt her, you really do love and venerate her, though you do not evidence it in your book. I am glad then in this place to insist on a fact which will lead those among us, who know you not, to love you from their love of her, in spite of what you refuse to give her; and lead Anglicans, on the other hand, who do know you, to think better of us, who refuse her nothing, when they reflect that, if you come short of us, you do not actually go against us in your devotion to her.

2. As you revere the Fathers, so you revere the Greek Church; and here again we have a witness on our behalf, of which you must be aware as fully as we are, and of which you must really mean to give us the benefit. In proportion as the Greek ritual is known to the religious public, that knowledge will take off the edge of the surprise of Anglicans at the sight of our devotions to our Lady. It must weigh with them, when they discover that we can enlist on our side in this controversy those seventy millions (I think they do so consider them) of Orientals, who are separated from our communion. Is it not a very pregnant fact, that the Eastern Churches, so independent of us, so long separated from the West, so jealous for Antiquity, should even surpass us in their exaltation of the Blessed Virgin? That they go further than we do is sometimes denied, on the ground that the Western devotion towards her is brought out into system, and the Eastern is not; yet this only means really, that the Latins have more mental activity, more strength of intellect, less of routine, less {91} of mechanical worship among them, than the Greeks. We are able, better than they, to give an account of what we do; and we seem to be more extreme, merely because we are more definite. But, after all, what have the Latins done so bold, as that substitution of the name of Mary for the Name of Jesus at the end of the collects and petitions in the Breviary, nay, in the Ritual and Liturgy? Not merely in local or popular, and in semi-authorized devotions, which are the kind of sources that supply you with your matter of accusation against us, but in the formal prayers of the Greek Eucharistic Service, petitions are offered, not in the name of Jesus Christ, but in that of the Theotocos. Such a phenomenon, in such a quarter, I think ought to make Anglicans merciful towards those writers among ourselves, who have been excessive in singing the praises of the Deipara. To make a rule of substituting Mary with all Saints for Jesus in the public service, has more Mariolatry in it, than to alter the Te Deum to her honour in private devotion .

3. And thus I am brought to a third remark, supplemental to your accusation of us. Two large views, as I have said above, are opened upon our devotional thoughts in Christianity; the one centering in the Son of Mary, the other in the Mother of Jesus. Neither need obscure the other; and in the Catholic Church, as a matter of fact, neither does. I wish you had either frankly allowed this in your Volume, or proved the contrary. I wish, when you report that a certain proportion of {92} Catholics, it has been ascertained by those who have inquired, do, in their devotions, stop short in her, p. 107, that you had added your belief, that the case was far otherwise with the great bulk of Catholics. Might I not have expected such an avowal? May I not, without sensitiveness, be somewhat pained at the omission? From mere Protestants, indeed, I expect nothing better. They content themselves with saying that our devotions to our Lady must necessarily throw our Lord into the shade; and thereby they relieve themselves of a great deal of trouble. Then they catch at any stray fact which countenances or seems to countenance their prejudice. Now I say plainly, I never will defend or screen any one from your just rebuke, who, through false devotion to Mary, forgets Jesus. But I should like the fact to be proved first; I cannot hastily admit it. There is this broad fact the other way;—that, if we look through Europe, we shall find, on the whole, that just those nations and countries have lost their faith in the divinity of Christ, who have given up devotion to His Mother, and that those on the other hand, who had been foremost in her honour, have retained their orthodoxy. Contrast, for instance, the Calvinists with the Greeks, or France with the North of Germany, or the Protestant and Catholic communions in Ireland. As to England, it is scarcely doubtful what would be the state of its Established Church, if the Liturgy and Articles were not an integral part of its Establishment; and, when men bring so grave a charge against us, as is implied in your Volume, they cannot be surprised if we in turn say {93} hard things of Anglicanism . In the Catholic Church Mary has shown herself, not the rival, but the minister of her Son; she has protected Him, as in His infancy, so in the whole history of the Religion. There is then a plain historical truth in Dr. Fabers words, which you quote to condemn, Jesus is obscured, because Mary is kept in the background.

This truth, exemplified in history, might also be abundantly illustrated, did my space admit, from the lives and writings of holy men in modern times. Two of them, St. Alfonso Liguori and the Blessed Paul of the Cross, for all their notorious devotion to the Mother, have shown their supreme love of her Divine Son, in the names which they have given to their respective Congregations, viz. that of the Redeemer, and that of the Cross and Passion. However, I will do no more than refer to an apposite passage in the Italian translation of the work of a French Jesuit, Fr. Nepveu, Christian Thoughts for every Day in the Year, which {94} was recommended to the friend who went with me to Rome, by the same Jesuit Father there, with whom, as I have already said, I stood myself in such intimate relations; I believe it is a fair specimen of the teaching of our spiritual books.

The love of Jesus Christ is the most sure pledge of our future happiness, and the most infallible token of our predestination. Mercy towards the poor, devotion to the Holy Virgin, are very sensible tokens of predestination; nevertheless they are not absolutely infallible; but one cannot have a sincere and constant love of Jesus Christ, without being predestinated ... The destroying angel, which bereaved the houses of the Egyptians of their first-born, had respect to all the houses which were marked with the blood of the Lamb.

And it is also exemplified, as I verily believe, not only in formal and distinctive Confessions, not only in books intended for the educated class, but also in the personal religion of the Catholic populations. When strangers are so unfavourably impressed with us, because they see Images of our Lady in our churches, and crowds flocking about her, they forget that there is a Presence within the sacred walls, infinitely more awful, which claims and obtains from us a worship transcendently different from any devotion we pay to her. That devotion to her might indeed tend to idolatry, if it were encouraged in Protestant churches, where there is nothing higher than it to attract the worshipper: but all the images that a Catholic church ever contained, all the Crucifixes at its Altars brought together, do not so affect its frequenters, as the lamp which betokens the {95} presence or absence there of the Blessed Sacrament. Is not this so certain, so notorious, that on some occasions it has been even brought as a charge against us, that we are irreverent in church, when what seemed to the objector to be irreverence was but the necessary change of feeling, which came over those who were in it, on their knowing that their Lord was no longer there, but away?

The Mass again conveys to us the same lesson of the sovereignty of the Incarnate Son; it is a return to Calvary, and Mary is scarcely named in it. Hostile visitors enter our churches on Sunday at midday, the time of the Anglican Service. They are surprised to see the High Mass perhaps poorly attended, and a body of worshippers leaving the music and the mixed multitude who may be lazily fulfilling their obligation, for the silent or the informal devotions which are offered at an Image of the blessed Virgin. They may be tempted, with one of your informants, to call such a temple, not a Jesus church, but a Mary church. But, if they understood our ways, they would know that we begin the day with our Lord and then go on to His Mother. It is early in the morning that religious persons go to Mass and Communion. The High Mass, on the other hand, is the festive celebration of the day, not the special devotional service; nor is there any reason why those who have been at low Mass already, should not at that hour proceed to ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin for themselves and all that is dear to them.

Communion, again, which is given in the morning, is a solemn unequivocal act of faith in the Incarnate {96} God, if any can be such; and the most gracious of admonitions, did we need one, of His sovereign and sole right to possess us. I knew a lady, who on her deathbed was visited by an excellent Protestant friend. The latter, with great tenderness for her souls welfare, asked her whether her prayers to the Blessed Virgin did not, at that awful hour, lead to forgetfulness of her Saviour. Forget Him? she replied with surprise, Why, He was just now here. She had been receiving Him in communion. When then, my dear Pusey, you read anything extravagant in praise of our Lady, is it not charitable to ask, even while you condemn it in itself, did the author write nothing else? Had he written on the Blessed Sacrament? had he given up all for Jesus? I recollect some lines, the happiest, I think, which that author wrote, which bring out strikingly the reciprocity, which I am dwelling on, of the respective devotions to Mother and Son:—

But scornful men have coldly said

Thy love was leading me from God;

And yet in this I did but tread

The very path my Saviour trod.

They know but little of thy worth

Who speak these heartless words to me;

For what did Jesus love on earth

One half so tenderly as thee?

Get me the grace to love thee more;

Jesus will give, if thou wilt plead;

And, Mother, when lifes cares are oer,

Oh, I shall love thee then indeed.

Jesus, when His three hours were run,

bequeathd thee from the Cross to me;

And oh! how can I love thy Son,

Sweet Mother, if I love not thee. {97}

4. Thus we are brought from the consideration of the sentiments themselves, of which you complain, to the persons who wrote, and the places where they wrote them. I wish you had been led, in this part of your work, to that sort of careful labour which you have employed in so masterly a way in your investigation of the circumstances of the definition of the Immaculate Conception. In the latter case you have catalogued the bishops who wrote to the Holy See, and analyzed their answers. Had you in like manner discriminated and located the Marian writers as you call them, and observed the times, places, and circumstances of their works, I think, they would not, when brought together, have had their present startling effect on the reader. As it is, they inflict a vague alarm upon the mind, as when one hears a noise, and does not know whence it comes and what it means. Some of your authors, I know are Saints; all, I suppose, are spiritual writers and holy men; but the majority are of no great celebrity, even if they have any kind of weight. Suarez has no business among them at all, for, when he says that no one is saved without the Blessed Virgin, he is speaking not of devotion to her, but of her intercession. The greatest name is St. Alfonso Liguori; but it never surprises me to read anything extraordinary in the devotions of a saint. Such men are on a level very different from our own, and we cannot understand them. I hold this to be an important canon in the Lives of the Saints, according to the words of the Apostle, The spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged of no one. But we {98} may refrain from judging, without proceeding to imitate. I hope it is not disrespectful to so great a servant of God to say, that I never have read his Glories of Mary; but here I am speaking generally of all Saints, whether I know them or not;—and I say that they are beyond us, and that we must use them as patterns, not as copies. As to his practical directions, St. Alfonso wrote them for Neapolitans, whom he knew, and we do not know. Other writers whom you quote, as De Salazar, are too ruthlessly logical to be safe or pleasant guides in the delicate matters of devotion. As to De Montford and Oswald, I never even met with their names, till I saw them in your book; the bulk of our laity, not to say of our clergy, perhaps know them little better than I do. Nor did I know till I learnt it from your Volume, that there were two Bernardines. St. Bernardine of Sienna, I knew of course, and knew too that he had a burning love for our Lord. But about the other, Bernardine de Bustis, I was quite at fault. I find from the Protestant Cave, that he, as well as his namesake, made himself also conspicuous for his zeal for the Holy Name, which is much to the point here. With such devotion was he carried away, says Cave, for the bare Name of Jesus, (which, by a new device of Bernardine of Sienna, had lately begun to receive divine honours,) that he was urgent with Innocent VIII. to assign it a day and rite in the Calendar.

One thing, however, is clear about all these writers; that not one of them is an Englishman. I have gone through your book, and do not find one English name among the various authors to whom you refer, except of {99} course the name of the author whose lines I have been quoting, and who, great as are his merits, cannot, for the reasons I have given in the opening of my Letter be considered a representative of English Catholic devotion. Whatever these writers may have said or not said, whatever they may have said harshly, and whatever capable of fair explanation, still they are foreigners; we are not answerable for their particular devotions; and as to themselves, I am glad to be able to quote the beautiful words which you use about them in your letter to the Weekly Register of November 25th last. I do not presume, you say, to prescribe to Italians or Spaniards, what they shall hold, or how they shall express their pious opinions; and least of all did I think of imputing to any of the writers whom I quoted that they took from our Lord any of the love which they gave to His Mother. In these last words too you have supplied one of the omissions in your Volume which I noticed above.

5. Now then we come to England itself, which after all, in the matter of devotion, alone concerns you and me; for though doctrine is one and the same everywhere, devotions, as I have already said, are matters of the particular time and the particular country. I suppose we owe it to the national good sense, that English Catholics have been protected from the extravagances which are elsewhere to be found. And we owe it also to the wisdom and moderation of the Holy See, which, in giving us the pattern for our devotion, as well as the {100} rule of our faith, has never indulged in those curiosities of thought which are both so attractive to undisciplined imaginations and so dangerous to grovelling hearts. In the case of our own common people I think such a forced style of devotion would be simply unintelligible; as to the educated, I doubt whether it can have more than an occasional or temporary influence. If the Catholic faith spreads in England, these peculiarities will not spread with it. There is a healthy devotion to the Blessed Mary, and there is an artificial; it is possible to love her as a Mother, to honour her as a Virgin, to seek her as a Patron, and to exalt her as a Queen, without any injury to solid piety and Christian good sense:—I cannot help calling this the English style. I wonder whether you find anything to displease you in the Garden of the Soul, the Key of Heaven, the Vade Mecum, the Golden Manual, or the Crown of Jesus. These are the books to which Anglicans ought to appeal, who would be fair to us in this matter. I do not observe anything in them which goes beyond the teaching of the Fathers, except so far as devotion goes beyond doctrine.

There is one collection of Devotions besides, of the highest authority, which has been introduced from abroad of late years. It consists of prayers of very various kinds which have been indulgenced by the Popes; and it commonly goes by the name of the Raccolta. As that word suggests, the language of many of the prayers is Italian, while others are in Latin. This circumstance is unfavourable to a translation, which, however skilful, must ever savour of the words {101} and idioms of the original; but, passing over this necessary disadvantage, I consider there is hardly a clause in the goodsized volume in question which even the sensitiveness of English Catholicism would wish changed. Its anxious observance of doctrinal exactness is almost a fault. It seems afraid of using the words give me, make me, in its addresses to the Blessed Virgin, which are as natural to adopt in speaking to her, as in addressing a parent or friend. Surely we do not disparage Divine Providence when we say that we are indebted to our parents for our life, or when we ask their blessing; we do not show any atheistical leaning, because we say that a mans recovery must be left to nature, or that nature supplies brute animals with instincts. In like manner it seems to me a simple purism, to insist upon minute accuracy of expression in devotional and popular writings. However, the Raccolta, as coming from responsible authority, for the most part observes it. It commonly uses the phrases gain for us by thy prayers, obtain for us, pray to Jesus for me, speak for me, Mary, carry thou our prayers, ask for us grace; intercede for the people of God, and the like, marking thereby with great emphasis that she is nothing more than an Advocate, and not a source of mercy. Nor do I recollect in this book more than one or two ideas to which you would be likely to raise an objection. The strongest of these is found in the Novena before her Nativity, in which, apropos of her Birth, we pray that she would come down again, and be reborn spiritually in our souls;—but it will occur to you that St. Paul speaks of his wish to impart to his converts, {102} not only the gospel, but his own soul; and writing to the Corinthians, he says he has begotten them by the gospel, and to Philemon, that he had begotten Onesimus, in his bonds; whereas St. James, with greater accuracy of expression, says of His own will hath God begotten us with the word of truth. Again, we find the petitioner saying to the Blessed Mary, In thee I place all my hope; but this is explained by another passage, Thou art my best hope after Jesus. Again, we read elsewhere, I would I had a greater love for thee, since to love thee is a great mark of predestination; but the prayer goes on, Thy Son deserves of us an immeasurable love; pray that I may have this grace, a great love for Jesus, and further on, I covet no good of the earth, but to love my God alone.

Then again, as to the lessons which our Catholics receive, whether by catechising or instruction, you would find nothing in our received manuals to which you would not assent, I am quite sure. Again, as to preaching, a standard book was drawn up three centuries ago, to supply matter for the purpose to the parochial clergy. You incidentally mention, p. 153, that the comment of Cornelius à Lapide on Scripture is a repertorium for sermons; but I never heard of this work being so used, nor indeed can it, because of its size. The work provided for the purpose by the Church is the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and nothing extreme about our Blessed Lady is propounded there. On the whole I am sanguine that you will come to the conclusion, that Anglicans may safely trust themselves {103} to us English Catholics, as regards any devotions to the Blessed Virgin which might be required of them over and above the rule of the Council of Trent.

6. And, now at length coming to the statements, not English, but foreign, which offend you in works written in her honour, I will allow that I like some of those which you quote as little as you do. I will frankly say that, when I read them in your volume, they affected me with grief and almost anger; for they seemed to me to ascribe to the Blessed Virgin a power of searching the reins and hearts, which is the attribute of God alone; and I said to myself, how can we any longer prove our Lords divinity from Scripture, if those cardinal passages which invest Him with divine prerogatives, after all invest Him with nothing beyond what His Mother shares with Him? And how, again, is there anything of incommunicable greatness in His death and passion, if He who was alone in the garden, alone upon the cross, alone in the resurrection, after all is not alone, but shared His solitary work with His Blessed Mother,—with her to whom, when He entered on His ministry, He said for our instruction, not as grudging her her proper glory, Woman, what have I to do with thee? And then again, if I hate those perverse sayings so much, how much more must she, in proportion to her love of Him? and how do we show our love for her, by wounding her in the very apple of her eye? This I felt and feel; but then on the other hand I have to observe that these strange words after all are but few in number, out of the many passages you cite; that most of them exemplify what I said {104} above about the difficulty of determining the exact point where truth passes into error, and that they are allowable in one sense or connection, though false in another. Thus to say that prayer (and the Blessed Virgins prayer) is omnipotent, is a harsh expression in every-day prose; but, if it is explained to mean that there is nothing which prayer may not obtain from God, it is nothing else than the very promise made us in Scripture. Again, to say that Mary is the centre of all being, sounds inflated and profane; yet after all it is only one way, and a natural way, of saying that the Creator and the creature met together, and became one in her womb; and as such, I have used the expression above. Again, it is at first sight a paradox to say that Jesus is obscured, because Mary is kept in the background; yet there is a sense, as I have shown above, in which it is a simple truth.

And so again certain statements may be true, under circumstances and in a particular time and place, which are abstractedly false; and hence it may be very unfair in a controversialist to interpret by an English or a modern rule, whatever may have been asserted by a foreign or medieval author. To say, for instance, dogmatically, that no one can be saved without personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin, would be an untenable proposition; yet it might be true of this man or that, or of this or that country at this or that date; and, if that very statement has ever been made by any writer of consideration (and this has to be ascertained), then perhaps it was made precisely under these exceptional circumstances. If an Italian preacher made it, I should {105} feel no disposition to doubt him, at least if he spoke of Italian youths and Italian maidens.

Next I think you have not always made your quotations with that consideration and kindness which is your rule. At p. 106, you say, It is commonly said that, if any Roman Catholic acknowledges that it is good and useful to pray to the saints, he is not bound himself to do so. Were the above teaching true, it would be cruelty to say so; because, according to it, he would be forfeiting what is morally necessary to his salvation. But now, as to the fact, by whom is it said that to pray to our Lady and the Saints is necessary to salvation? The proposition of St. Alfonso is, that God gives no grace except through Mary; that is through her intercession. But intercession is one thing, devotion is another. And Suarez says, It is the universal sentiment that the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but also in a certain manner necessary; but still it is the question of her intercession, not of our invocation of her, not of devotion to her. If it were so, no Protestant could be saved; if it were so, there would be grave reasons for doubting of the salvation of St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius, or of the primitive Martyrs; nay, I should like to know whether St. Augustine, in all his voluminous writings, invokes her once. Our Lord died for those heathens who did not know Him; and His Mother intercedes for those Christians who do not know her; and she intercedes according to His will, and, when He wills to save a particular soul, she at once prays for it. I say, He wills indeed according to her prayer, but then she prays {106} according to His will. Though then it is natural and prudent for those to have recourse to her, who from the Churchs teaching know her power, yet it cannot be said that devotion to her is a sine-quâ-non of salvation. Some indeed of the authors, whom you quote, go farther; they do speak of devotion; but even then, they do not enunciate the general proposition which I have been disallowing. For instance, they say, It is morally impossible for those to be saved who neglect the devotion to the Blessed Virgin; but a simple omission is one thing, and neglect another. It is impossible for any to be saved who turns away from her, yes; but to turn away is to offer some positive disrespect or insult towards her, and that with sufficient knowledge; and I certainly think it would be a very grave act, if in a Catholic country (and of such the writers were speaking, for they knew of no other), with Ave-Marias sounding in the air, and images of the Madonna in every street and road, a Catholic broke off or gave up a practice that was universal, and in which he was brought up, and deliberately put her name out of his thoughts.

7. Though, then, common sense may determine for us, that the line of prudence and propriety has been certainly passed in the instance of certain statements about the Blessed Virgin, it is often not easy to convict them of definite error logically; and in such cases authority, if it attempt to act, would be in the position which so often happens in our courts of law, when the commission of an offence is morally certain, but the government prosecutor cannot find legal evidence sufficient {107} to insure conviction. I am not denying the right of sacred Congregations, at their will, to act peremptorily, and without assigning reasons for the judgment they pass upon writers; but, when they have found it inexpedient to take this severe course, perhaps it may happen from the circumstances of the case, that there is no other that they can take, even if they would. It is wiser then for the most part to leave these excesses to the gradual operation of public opinion, that is, to the opinion of educated and sober Catholics; and this seems to me the healthiest way of putting them down. Yet in matter of fact I believe the Holy See has interfered from time to time, when devotion seemed running into superstition; and not so long ago. I recollect hearing in Gregory the XVI.s time, of books about the Blessed Virgin, which had been suppressed by authority; and in particular of a pictorial representation of the Immaculate Conception which he had forbidden; and of measures taken against the shocking notion that the Blessed Mary is present in the Holy Eucharist, in the sense in which our Lord is present; but I have no means of verifying the information I then received .

Nor have I time, any more than you have had, to ascertain how far great theologians have made protests against those various extravagances of which you so rightly complain. Passages, however, from three well-known Jesuit Fathers have opportunely come in my way, and in one of them is introduced in confirmation, the name of the great Gerson. They are Canisius, Petavius, and Raynaudus; and as they speak very {108} appositely, and you do not seem to know them, I will here make some extracts from them:—

(1.) Canisius:—

We confess that in the cultus of Mary it has been, and is possible for corruptions to creep in; and we have a more than ordinary desire that the Pastors of the Church should be carefully vigilant here, and give no place to Satan, whose characteristic office it has ever been, while men sleep, to sow the cockle amid the Lords wheat ... For this purpose it is his wont gladly to avail himself of the aid of heretics, fanatics, and false Catholics, as may be seen in the instance of this Marianus cultus. This cultus, heretics, suborned by Satan, attack with hostility ... Thus too, certain mad heads are so demented by Satan, as to embrace superstitions and idolatries instead of the true cultus, and neglect altogether the true measures whether in respect to God or to Mary. Such indeed were the Collyridians of old ... Such that German herdsman a hundred years ago, who gave out publicly that he was a new prophet, and had had a vision of the Deipara, and told the people in her name to pay no more tributes and taxes to princes ... Moreover, how many Catholics does one see who, by great and shocking negligence, have neither care nor regard for her cultus; but, given to profane and secular objects, scarce once a year raise their earthly minds to sing her praises or to venerate her.—De Mariâ Deiparâ, p. 518.

(2.) Father Petau says, when discussing the teaching of the Fathers about the Blessed Virgin (de Incarn. xiv. 8):— {109}

I will venture to give this advice to all who would be devout and panegyrical towards the Holy Virgin, viz., not to exceed in their piety and devotion to her, but to be content with true and solid praises, and to cast aside what is otherwise. This kind of idolatry, lurking, as St. Augustine says, nay implanted in human hearts, is greatly abhorrent from Theology, that is, from the gravity of heavenly wisdom, which never thinks or asserts anything, but what is measured by certain and accurate rules. What that rule should be, and what caution is to be used in our present subject, I will not determine of myself; but according to the mind of a most weighty and most learned theologian, John Gerson, who in one of his Epistles proposes certain canons, which he calls truths, by means of which are to be measured the assertions of theologians concerning the Incarnation ... By these truly golden precepts Gerson brings within bounds the immoderate licence of praising the Blessed Virgin, and restrains it within the measure of sober and healthy piety. And from these it is evident that that sort of reasoning is frivolous and nugatory, in which so many indulge, in order to assign any sort of grace they please, however unusual, to the Blessed Virgin. For they argue thus; Whatever the Son of God could bestow for the glory of His Mother, that it became Him in fact to furnish; or again, Whatever honours or ornaments He has poured out on other saints, those altogether hath He heaped upon His Mother; whence they draw their chain of reasoning to their desired conclusion; a mode of argumentation which Gerson treats with contempt as captious and sophistical. {110}

He adds, what of course we all should say, that, in thus speaking, he has no intention to curtail the liberty of pious persons in such meditations and conjectures, on the mysteries of faith, sacred histories, and the Scripture text, as are of the nature of comments, supplements, and the like.

(3.) Raynaud is an author, full of devotion, if any one is so, to the Blessed Virgin; yet in the work which he has composed in her honour (Diptycha Mariana), he says more than I can quote here, to the same purpose as Petau. I abridge some portions of his text:—

Let this be taken for granted, that no praises of ours can come up to the praises due to the Virgin Mother. But we must not make up for our inability to reach her true praise, by a supply of lying embellishment and false honours. For there are some whose affection for religious objects is so imprudent and lawless, that they transgress the due limits even towards the saints. This Origen has excellently observed upon in the case of the Baptist, for very many, instead of observing the measure of charity, considered whether he might not be the Christ, p. 9. ... St. Anselm, the first, or one of the first champions of the public celebration of the Blessed Virgins Immaculate Conception, says, de Excell. Virg., that the Church considers it indecent, that anything that admits of doubt should be said in her praise, when the things which are certainly true of her supply such large materials for laudation. It is right so to interpret St. Epiphanius also, when he says that human tongues should not pronounce anything lightly of the Deipara; and who is more justly to be charged with {111} speaking lightly of the most Holy Mother of God, than he, who, as if what is certain and evident did not suffice for her full investiture, is wiser than the aged, and obtrudes on us the toadstools of his own mind, and devotions unheard of by those Holy Fathers who loved her best? Plainly, as St. Anselm says, that she is the Mother of God, this by itself exceeds every elevation which can be named or imagined, short of God. About so sublime a majesty we should not speak hastily from prurience of wit, or flimsy pretext of promoting piety; but with great maturity of thought; and whenever the maxims of the Church and the oracles of faith do not suffice, then not without the suffrages of the Doctors ... Those who are subject to this prurience of innovation, do not perceive how broad is the difference between subjects of human science, and heavenly things. All novelty concerning the objects of our faith is to be put far away; except so far as by diligent investigation of Gods Word, written and unwritten, and a well-founded inference from what is thence to be elicited, something is brought to light which though already indeed there, has not hitherto been recognized. The innovations which we condemn are those which rest neither on the written nor unwritten Word, nor on conclusions from it, nor on the judgment of ancient sages, nor sufficient basis of reason, but on the sole colour and pretext of doing more honour to the Deipara, p. 10.

In another portion of the same work, he speaks in particular of one of those imaginations to which you especially refer, and for which, without strict necessity (as it seems to me) you allege the authority of à Lapide. {112}

Nor is that honour of the Deipara to be offered, viz. that the elements of the body of Christ, which the Blessed Virgin supplied to it, remain perpetually unaltered in Christ, and thereby are found also in the Eucharist ... This solicitude for the Virgins glory must, I consider, be discarded; since, if rightly considered, it involves an injury towards Christ, and such honour the Virgin loveth not. And first, dismissing philosophical bagatelles about the animation of blood, milk, &c., who can endure the proposition that a good portion of the substance of Christ in the Eucharist should be worshipped with a cultus less than latria? viz. by the inferior cultus of hyperdulia? The preferable class of theologians contend that not even the humanity of Christ, is to be materially abstracted from the Word of God, and worshipped by itself; how then shall we introduce a cultus of the Deipara in Christ, which is inferior to the cultus proper to Him? How is this other than a casting down of the substance of Christ from His Royal Throne, and a degradation of it to some inferior sitting place? It is nothing to the purpose to refer to such Fathers, as say that the flesh of Christ is the flesh of Mary, for they speak of its origin. What will hinder, if this doctrine be admitted, our also admitting that there is something in Christ which is detestable? for, as the first elements of a body which were communicated by the Virgin to Christ, have (as these authors say) remained perpetually in Christ, so the same materia, at least in part, which belonged originally to the ancestors of Christ, came down to the Virgin from her father, unchanged, and taken from her grandfather, and so on. {113} And thus, since it is not unlikely that some of these ancestors were reprobate, there would now be something actually in Christ, which had belonged to a reprobate, and worthy of detestation.—p. 237.

8. After such explanation, and with such authorities, to clear my path, I put away from me, as you would wish, without any hesitation, as matters in which my heart and reason have no part, (when taken in their literal and absolute sense, as any Protestant would naturally take them, and as the writers doubtless did not use them), such sentences, and phrases, as these:—that the mercy of Mary is infinite; that God has resigned into her hands His omnipotence; that it is safer to seek her than to seek her Son; that the Blessed Virgin is superior to God; that our Lord is subject to her command; that His present disposition towards sinners, as well as His Fathers, is to reject them, while the Blessed Mary takes His place as an Advocate with Father and Son; that the Saints are more ready to intercede with Jesus than Jesus with the Father; that Mary is the only refuge of those with whom God is angry; that Mary alone can obtain a Protestants conversion; that it would have sufficed for the salvation of men if our Lord had died, not in order to obey His Father, but to defer to the decree of His Mother; that she rivals our Lord in being Gods daughter, not by adoption, but by a kind of nature; that Christ fulfilled the office of Saviour by imitating her virtues; that, as the Incarnate God bore the image of His Father, so He bore the image of His Mother; that {114} redemption derived from Christ indeed its sufficiency, but from Mary its beauty and loveliness; that, as we are clothed with the merits of Christ, so we are clothed with the merits of Mary; that, as He is Priest, in a like sense is she Priestess; that His Body and Blood in the Eucharist are truly hers and appertain to her; that as He is present and received therein, so is she present and received therein; that Priests are ministers as of Christ, so of Mary; that elect souls are born of God and Mary; that the Holy Ghost brings into fruitfulness His action by her, producing in her and by her Jesus Christ in His members; that the kingdom of God in our souls, as our Lord speaks, is really the kingdom of Mary in the soul; that she and the Holy Ghost produce in the soul extraordinary things; and that when the Holy Ghost finds Mary in a soul He flies there.

Sentiments such as these I freely surrender to your animadversion; I never knew of them till I read your book, nor, as I think, do the vast majority of English Catholics know them. They seem to me like a bad dream. I could not have conceived them to be said. I know not to what authority to go for them, to Scripture, or to the Fathers, or to the decrees of Councils, or to the consent of schools, or to the tradition of the faithful, or to the Holy See, or to Reason. They defy all the loci theologici. There is nothing of them in the Missal, in the Roman Catechism, in the Roman Raccolta, in the Imitation of Christ, in Gother, Challoner, Milner or Wiseman, as far as I am aware. They do but scare and confuse me. I should not be holier, more spiritual, more sure of perseverance, if I twisted my moral being {115} into the reception of them; I should but be guilty of fulsome frigid flattery towards the most upright and noble of Gods creatures, if I professed them,—and of stupid flattery too; for it would be like the compliment of painting up a young and beautiful princess with the brow of a Plato and the muscle of an Achilles. And I should expect her to tell one of her people in waiting to turn me off her service without warning. Whether thus to feel be the scandalum parvulorum in my case, or the scandalum Pharisæorum, I leave others to decide; but I will say plainly that I had rather believe (which is impossible) that there is no God at all, than that Mary is greater than God. I will have nothing to do with statements, which can only be explained, by being explained away. I do not, however, speak of these statements, as they are found in their authors, for I know nothing of the originals, and cannot believe that they have meant what you say; but I take them as they lie in your pages. Were any of them the sayings of Saints in ecstasy, I should know they had a good meaning; still I should not repeat them myself; but I am looking at them, not as spoken by the tongues of Angels, but according to that literal sense which they bear in the mouths of English men and English women. And, as spoken by man to man, in England, in the nineteenth century, I consider them calculated to prejudice inquirers, to frighten the unlearned, to unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemy, and to work the loss of souls.

9. And now, after having said so much as this, bear with me, my dear Friend, if I end with an expostulation. {116} Have you not been touching us on a very tender point in a very rude way? is it not the effect of what you have said to expose her to scorn and obloquy, who is dearer to us than any other creature? Have you even hinted that our love for her is anything else than an abuse? Have you thrown her one kind word yourself all through your book? I trust so, but I have not lighted upon one. And yet I know you love her well. Can you wonder, then,—can I complain much, much as I grieve,—that men should utterly misconceive of you, and are blind to the fact that you have put the whole argument between you and us on a new footing; and that, whereas it was said twenty-five years ago in the British Critic, Till Rome ceases to be what practically she is, union is impossible between her and England, you declare on the contrary, Union is possible, as soon as Italy and England, having the same faith and the same centre of unity, are allowed to hold severally their own theological opinions? They have not done you justice here; because in truth, the honour of our Lady is dearer to them than the conversion of England.

Take a parallel case, and consider how you would decide it yourself. Supposing an opponent of a doctrine for which you so earnestly contend, the eternity of punishment, instead of meeting you with direct arguments against it, heaped together a number of extravagant descriptions of the place, mode, and circumstances of its infliction, quoted Tertullian as a witness for the primitive Fathers, and the Covenanters and Ranters for these last centuries; brought passages from the Inferno of Dante, {117} and from the Sermons of Wesley and Whitfield; nay, supposing he confined himself to the chapter on the subject in the work, which has the sanction of Jeremy Taylor, on The State of Man, or to his Sermon on The Foolish Exchange, or to particular passages in Leighton, South, Beveridge, and Barrow, would you think this a fair and becoming method of reasoning? and if he avowed that he should ever consider the Anglican Church committed to all these accessories of the doctrine, till its authorities formally denounced Beveridge, and Whitfield, and a hundred others, would you think this an equitable determination, or the procedure of a theologian?

So far concerning the Blessed Virgin; the chief but not the only subject of your Volume. And now, when I could wish to proceed , she seems to stop all controversy, for the Feast of her Immaculate Conception is upon us; and close upon its Octave, which is kept with special solemnities in the Churches of this town, come the great Antiphons, the heralds of Christmas. That joyful season, joyful for all of us, while it centres in Him who then came on earth, also brings before us in peculiar prominence that Virgin Mother, who bore and nursed Him. Here she is not in the background, as at Easter-tide, but she brings Him to us in her arms. Two great Festivals, dedicated to her honour, tomorrows and the Purification, mark out and keep the {118} ground, and, like the towers of David, open the way to and fro, for the high holiday season of the Prince of Peace. And all along it her image is upon it, such as we see it in the typical representation of the Catacombs. May the sacred influences of this tide bring us all together in unity! May it destroy all bitterness on your side and ours! May it quench all jealous, sour, proud, fierce antagonism on our side; and dissipate all captious, carping, fastidious refinements of reasoning on yours! May that bright and gentle Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, overcome you with her sweetness, and revenge herself on her foes by interceding effectually for their conversion!

I am,

Yours, most affectionately,

JOHN H. NEWMAN.

THE ORATORY, BIRMINGHAM,

Dec. 7, 1865.








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