Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Réné-Francois Guettée - The Papacy - part five
It suffices to notice, that this council, convoked without the Bishop of Rome, acted independently, and that it confirmed a sentence of a council of
Rome at which the Pope presided, to be convinced that the papal authority as received at this day in the West, was then unknown.
It thus appears that the Romish theologians are without a show of reason when they cite the appeal of the Donatists as favourable to papal pretensions.
Let us now examine the case of St. John Chrysostom:
This great Bishop of Constantinople drew upon himself the hatred of the Empress Eudoxia and of many bishops and other ecclesiastics, by his firmness in maintaining the rules of the purest discipline.* His enemies were supported by Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria. This bishop had condemned some poor monks as Origenists. They had come to Constantinople to seek for redress. The famous question of Origenism was thus revived. Chrysostom did not think it profitable to examine it. But Eudoxia, who busied herself with theological questions more than was becoming in a woman, took the part of the monks
against Theophilus, who was accordingly commanded to appear at
Constantinople. But before Theophilus arrived there, Chrysostom incurred the hatred of the Empress, and she determined upon using Theophilus to avenge her of that great man, who had not known how to yield a servile submission to her caprices.
It was not long before Theophilus, who had been summoned to Constantinople under accusation of guilt, bore himself as the judge of that innocent archbishop, who out of respect for the canons, had refused to judge him. He conspired with certain bishops who were courtiers; and he corrupted sundry ecclesiastics by money and promises. Sustained by the court, he, with thirty-five other bishops assembled in a place called The Oak, near Chalcedon, (A.D. 403.) These bishops were at once prosecutors, witnesses, and judges. They had not dared to assemble at Constantinople, where the broad light of day would have fallen upon their calumnies, and where they had cause to fear the faithful people who venerated their pastor. Of the thirty-five bishops, twenty-nine were of Egypt. While the enemies of
Chrysostom assembled at The Oak, the faithful bishops, forty in number, had gathered
around Chrysostom, at the call of the Emperor, to judge Theophilus. Chrysostom was conferring with these bishops, when two messengers from the pseudo-council of The Oak came to summon him to appear there. The holy bishop refused to recognize his enemies as judges. They nevertheless proceeded to depose him, and wrote to the Emperor Arcadius, that it was his duty to banish him and even to punish him for the crime of high treason, in having in his sermons insulted the Empress Eudoxia. This amounted to a demand for his death. The whole people rose against the conventicle of The Oak in favour of Chrysostom, who would not leave the city without being forced to do so. The Emperor then commanded one of his counts to expel him, using violence even, if necessary. The saint took advantage of a
moment when his faithful children had somewhat relaxed their vigilance, to leave his house, and give himself up to the soldiers commissioned to arrest him. He was put in ward until evening, and was conveyed by night to the port. But in spite of these precautions, the people found out that their pastor was taken from them. A great crowd followed him weeping. Chrysostom was put on board of a ship, and hurried off before daylight, and he was landed
on the, coast of
Such gross injustice gave universal umbrage. Several of the enemies of the saint repented of their calumnies; the people besieged the churches and filled them with their clamour. A dreadful earthquake at this time filled Eudoxia, the first cause of the crime, with
* The facts we are about to analyze all rest upon the authority of Palladius the historian, a desciple of St. John Chrysostom; the Ecclesiastical Histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret; the works of St. John Chrysostom; and upon the official documents inserted either in the work of Baronius or in the Collection of Councils by Father Labbe.
terror. She attributed it to her injustice, and hastened to recall Chrysostom. The people received him in triumph, and his enemies hid themselves or fled. He asked a council before which to justify himself. Theopililus, afraid to face incorruptible judges, fled to Egypt. But Eudoxia, having recovered from her first fright, renewed her persecutions against Chrysostom, who, with apostolic freedom, preached against her numerous acts of injustice.
Theophilus was written to, to return, that the intrigues of the pseudo-council of The Oak might be carried out. But the Bishop of Alexandria contented himself by sending perfidious counsels from a distance. A new council was assembled; forty-two bishops pronounced in favour of the saint. The others, influenced by the court, accepted as legitimate his deposition by the pseudo-council of The Oak, and decided that Chrysostom, having, been deposed by a council, and having reässumed his see without having been reïnstated by
another council, was guilty and deserved to be deposed.
Chrysostom, indeed, had asked for a council immediately after his return to
Constantinople ; the Emperor had granted it; but Eudoxia had given contrary orders, for she did not desire a regular council, but an assembly composed of the enemies of the saintly Archbishop. She carried her point, and caused Chrysostom to be condemned for not having been reïnstated by a council, when she herself had rendered that council impossible.
Renewed persecutions followed this unjust sentence. It was then that Chrysostom addressed himself to the West, represented by the bishops of the most important sees, to set before them the violence and injustice of which he had been the victim. The object of his letter was to warn the Western bishops against the calumnies that his enemies might perhaps already have published against him, and to entreat them not to take from him their charity and their communion. He addressed his letter to the Bishop of Rome, who was then (A.D.
404) Innocent Venerius of
Milan, and to Chromatius of Aquileia. This fact, which is not denied, suffices to prove that he did not appeal to the Pope as a chief having authority over all the Church. He added in his letter, that he was disposed to defend himself, provided his adversaries would give him a fair trial; which is a further proof that he did not carry his case to Rome as to a superior tribunal. It was natural that the Bishop of Constantinople, persecuted in the East by unworthy bishops and by the imperial power, should look to the
These renewed persecutions did not cool the zeal of St. Chrysostom's friends. Several of them took refuge in Rome and brought to Innocent a letter from those of the clergy and people of Constantinople who remained faithful to their bishop. Innocent answered,
consoling them and endeavouring to inspire them with the hope that God would soon deliver them by means of the æcumenical council which he was labouring to have assembled.
It was to a lawful council that Chrysostom and his friends had appealed; and Innocent, far from assuming the right to determine the affair by his own authority, placed all his hopes as well in the council.
These facts speak loudly, and need no comment.
Other bishops of the West were of the same opinion. The Bishop of Aquileia, in particular, joined his efforts to those of Innocent, in order to obtain from Honorius the convocation of a council in the West that should consult upon the means of terminating the affair that so justly engaged their thoughts. The Italian bishops assembled by order of Honorius and gave as their opinion, that an æcumenical council should be assembled at Thessalonica, whither the bishops of the East and West could go with equal facility; and that such a council was necessary in order to close the discussion by a final award.
They prayed him to write to this effect to Arcadius. Honorius wrote to ask Innocent to send him five bishops, two priests and one deacon, to carry the letter which he should write to his brother. It was the third that he wrote him on the same subject.
In view of the difficulties raised by Arcadius against the convocation of a council, this was certainly a proper occasion for the Pope of Rome to settle the question himself, in virtue of his sovereign authority, if he had possessed any. But neither Chrysostom nor his friends of the East, nor the bishops of the West, nor the Pope himself dreamed of this mode, to them unknown. They all were satisfied to ask of the emperors a council, which alone had the authority to give a final decision.
The deputies who bore the letter of Honorius were likewise intrusted with several other letters, from Innocent of Rome, from Chomatius of Aquileia from Venerius of Milan, and other bishops of Italy. Moreover, they were bearers of a note from the council of Italy, to the effect that Chrysostom should in the first place be reinstated in his see and in
communion with the Eastern bishops, before appearing at the œcumenical council, where his cause was to be decided.
Areadius did not even allow the deputies to land at Constantinople, but sent them to Thrace where they were treated as prisoners. The letters they carried were taken from them by force, and they were cast upon a rotten vessel to be returned to the West. Four Eastern bishops who had accompanied them were roughly handled and exiled to the most distant parts of the empire. Many Eastern bishops then became the victims of the most cruel treatment, and Areadius entered upon an organized persecution against all those who had remained faithful to Chrysostom.
Palladius relates that the Roman Church and the Western council resolved thereupon to communicate no longer with the partisans of Atticus and Theophilus, until it should please God to provide the means of assembling the œcumenical council. Theodoret also relates that the bishops of Europe acted thus. Some Eastern churches followed the same rule; but other churches, and that of Africa in particular, did not separate themselves from the communion
of Chrysostom’s adversaries, although taking the part of this holy patriarch, and hoping that justice would be done to him.
This was the state of things when St. John Chrysostom died. From his remote place of exile, a short time before he quitted this life, he had written to Innocent, thanking him for the zeal he had displayed in his cause. He wrote similar letters to the Bishop of Milan and other bishops who had openly declared for him.
The entire East rendered justice to the great Archbishop after his death, recognizing him as a saint, which recognition restored the communion between all the Eastern and Western churches.
Such is the exact analysis of facts relating to the affair of St. Chrysostom. It appears from it, that the saint did not appeal to Rome; that he sought in the Western Church a support against his enemies of the East; that the Western bishops only acted collectively to cause his case to be determined; that they only ascribed to a, general council authority to pronounce final sentence; that they only claimed for themselves the right to separate themselves from
the communion of such as they deemed accomplices of injustice; and lastly, that Innocent of Rome acted with no more authority in all these discussions than the Bishop of Milan or of
From these facts, is it not clear that the care of St. John Chrysostom, far from furnishing evidence in favour of the sovereign authority of the Papacy, proves precisely the contrary?
Some Romish theologians having asserted, in the face of all historical documents, that
Chrysostom had appealed to Rome for the purpose of suspending the proceedings against him by the interposition of 'the papal authority, we will remark, that, according to St. Chrysostom himself, he addressed his protest, not only to the Bishop of Rome, but to other bishops. "I have also addressed this same letter,” he says, "to Venerius, Bishop of Milan, and to Chromatius, Bishop of Aquileia.”
Here is what he asks of his colleagues in the West; “I pray you, therefore, to write letters declaring null and void all that has been done against me, granting me inter- communion with you as in the past, since I am condemned without a bearing, and since I am ready to justify myself before any impartial tribunal."
What was the tribunal to which he appealed? The Bishop of Rome affirms that there was no other except a council; he expresses himself substantially to this effect in his letter to the clergy and people of Constantinople: "From the friendly letter that Germanus the priest and Cassianus the deacon have handed to me from you, I have gathered with an anxious
mind the scene of woe you describe, and the afflictions and the trial that the faith has endured among you. This is an evil for which there is no other remedy than patience. . . . . . . .I derive
from the beginning of your affectionate epistle the consolation which I needed. . . . . Innocent bishops are driven from their sees. John, our brother and colleague, and your bishop, has been the first to suffer from this violence, without having been heard, and without our knowing of what he is accused. . . . As regards the canons, we declare that only those made at the Council of Nicea should be recognized......... Nevertheless, what remedy can be applied to so great an evil? There is no other than to convoke a council. . . . Until we are able to obtain the convocation of a council, we cannot do better than to await from the will of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ the remedy of these evils. . . . We are continually devising means to assemble a general council, where all dissensions may be set at rest at the command of God. Let us then wait, entrenched within the bulwark of patience."
We could multiply such texts; but to what purpose, when all the facts demonstrate the errour of these Romish writers?
We will now endeavour to learn, with the aid of doctrinal texts, what has been the teaching of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries respecting the authority of the Bishops of Rome.
After studying profoundly and critically, and without bias or prejudice the historical and dogmatic remains of the first centuries of the Church, we cannot read without pain the works of Romish theologians in favour of the papal authority.
We have had the patience to read most of those regarded as authorities, such as Bellarmin, Rocaberti, André Duval, Zaccaria, and many of the most renowned of the modern theologians who have taken these as their guides--such as Gerdil, Perrone, Passaglia. We have read the principal works of the modern Gallicans--those, namely, of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries--and particularly the works of Bossuet, Nicole, Tournely, and La Chambre. We are convinced that the latter have borrowed from the Ultramontanes those of their texts which appear to have the greatest weight, limiting the sense to a primacy of divine right and a restricted authority of the Pope, while the others extend it to an absolute authority and infallibility. Among them all, we have remarked, first, a crowd of broken and corrupted texts distorted from their true sense, and isolated from the context expressly to give them a false interpretation. We have remarked, secondly, that the texts of each particular Father are isolated from other texts of the same Father touching the same point of doctrine, although the last may modify or absolutely destroy the sense attributed to the first. We have remarked, thirdly, that these writers deduce from these texts, consequences clearly false, and which do not logically follow from them. Of this we shall give two examples, among the many we could point out.
Launoy, as we have already mentioned, has analyzed the Catholic tradition upon the interpretation of the text, “Thou art Peter," etc. He has found but seventeen Fathers or Doctors of the Church who have applied to St. Peter the word the stone, (la pierre ;) he has pointed out more than forty of them, who have understood this expression as applied to the confession of faith made by St. Peter, that is to say, to the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Ultramontanes cannot dispute this, but they pretend that by giving the faith of Peter as the foundation of the Church, the Lord necessarily granted to that Apostle not only an indefectible faith, but also infallibility, and that these gifts have passed to his successors.
Now, all the Fathers of the Church, quoted for the latter interpretation, have meant by the confession of St. Peter, only the belief he had confessed, his objective faith, or the object of that faith, and not the subjective faith or the personal adherence that he had given to it.
The belief confessed by St. Peter being the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Fathers quoted have interpreted the text, “Thou art Peter," etc., in this sense, that the divinity of Jesus Christ is the rock upon which the Church rests. All speak in the clearest terms to this effect. Not one of them speaks of any privilege whatever granted to St. Peter personally-and á fortiori, not of any privilege descended to the Bishops of Rome as his successors. Thus, even had St. Peter received any prerogative from Jesus Christ, it would be necessary to prove that this prerogative was not personal; but the Ultramontanes dispose of that difficulty with extreme facility. They simply affirm that the privileges granted to St. Peter belong to his successors; they rest these privileges upon texts which say nothing at all about them; they affirm, on the strength of these falsified texts, that the Bishops of Rome are the only successors of St. Peter, because that Apostle died Bishop of Rome.
What they say upon this last point is the second example that we shall give of their false reasoning. They rely chiefly upon St. Irenæus, Tertullian, and Eusebius
to prove this.
Now, Eusebius expresses himself thus: "After the martyrdom of Paul and Peter, Linus was the first that received the episcopate at Rome."* "Clement also, who was appointed the third Bishop of this Church, (
Rome.)"* “After Anencletus (or Cletus) had been Bishop of Rome twelve years he was succeeded by Clement."† "After Euaristus had completed the eighth year as Bishop of Rome, he was succeeded in the episcopal office by Alexander , the fifth in succession from Peter and Paul."‡ Thus it makes no difference to Eusebius whether
he places Paul before Peter, or Peter before Paul, when he speaks of the foundation of the
Church of Rome. The bishops are the successors of the one as well as of the other, and
* Eccl. Hist. Book III. ch. 2
* Book III. ch. 4.
† Book III. ch. 15.
‡ Book IV. ch. 1.
neither of them is counted among the Bishops of Rome. St. Irenæus has nowhere said that Peter bad been Bishop of Rome; he even asserts the contrary in a most incontestable manner. He expresses himself in substance as follows: "The blessed Apostles, (Peter and Paul,) when they founded and organized the Church of Rome, gave to Linus the episcopate, and the care of governing that Church......... Anencletus succeeded Linus; after Anencletus, Clement was the third, since the Apostles, who had charge of this episcopate."§
St. Peter and St. Paul founded and organized the Church of Rome, but it was Linus who was made the first Bishop, even during the life of the Apostles. Observe that Peter and Paul are here coordinated by the holy doctor. Thus if we prove the episcopate of St. Peter at Rome by the text quoted, we also prove that of St. Paul by the same text. Rome would then have had two Apostle-Bishops at one and the same time.
Tertullian mentions the Bishops of Rome in the same order as St. Irenæus, and designates Linus as the first, and Anencletus as the second.** He only claims for Rome the succession of St. Peter, by ordination, from St. Clement, third bishop of that city. "Let those," he said, “who boast of dating back to apostolic times, show by the succession of their bishops, that they derive their origin from an Apostle or an apostolic man, as the Church of Smyrna proves that Polycarp was ordained by John, or as the Church of Rome shows that
Clement was ordained by Peter."†† We might infer from this, that Linus and Anencletus were ordained by St. Paul, who in that case, had organized the Roman Church before Peter.
When Tertullian says that St. -Peter sat on the chair of Rome, he does not mean that he was Bishop, but that be taught there; for the word chair signifies nothing more than teaching in the writings of the Fathers. If he had meant otherwise, he would have made Linus the second bishop, not the first.
Thus the evidence brought by Romish theologians to prove the episcopate of St. Peter at Rome, tells against them, and only establishes the fact that St. Peter and St. Paul founded the Roman Church, and consequently that this Church is Apostolic in its origin, which no one
denies. Besides these historical evidences which confound them, the Romish theologians
have invoked the letter of Firmilianus, already quoted, and those few texts from St. Cyprian, the true meaning of which we have already explained. As regards the letter of Firmilianus, it is only necessary to read it, in order to understand its true sense, and to wonder that they should have ventured to appeal to its evidence. As to St. Cyprian, we will now in a general way sum up his doctrine, in order to make apparent the abuse that has been made of it.
St. Cyprian‡‡ proves: First, that the Church of Rome was built upon St. Peter as the type and representative of the unity of the Church; secondly, that the Church of Rome is the chair of Peter; thirdly, that the Church of Rome is the principal church from which sacerdotal unity proceeded; fourthly, that treachery and errour cannot gain access to the Roman Church.
From this, the Romish theologians argue that the Popes, as successors of St. Peter, are the centre of unity, and that beyond them and their Church, all is schism.
Such are not the legitimate conclusions from the doctrine of St. Cyprian; for the holy Doctor lays down other principles besides, which clearly determine the sense of the former ones: First, that St. Peter in confessing the divinity of Jesus Christ, answered for all the Apostles, and spoke in the name of them all, and not in his own name personally; secondly, that the other Apostles were equal to St. Peter in power and dignity; thirdly, that all the Bishops who are successors of the Apostles are successors of St. Peter, in the same way as those of Rome.
§ St. Iren. agt. the Heret. Book III ch. 8.
** Tertull. agt. Marcion, Book IV.
†† Tertullian de Prescription. chap. xxxii.
‡‡ St. Cyp. de Unitat. Eccl. Letters 27, 55, 59, 75.
If St. Peter answered Jesus Christ in the name of his colleagues, it was because the question was addressed to them as well as to him. St. Cyprian positively asserts this: "Peter, upon whom the Lord had built the Church, speaking alone, for all, and answering by the voice of the Church." If the personality of that Apostle was not concerned in Christ's question and in Peter's answer, can it be said that his person is the foundation of the Church? It is evident that all the Apostles have been so many foundations of that mystical edifice; as Holy Scripture affirms very plainly, and as we have already endeavoured to show. Peter in
replying alone, was, therefore, but the symbol of the unity which was to govern the Apostolic body, and afterward the episcopate. But in being the symbol or sign, was he necessarily the source and principle of it, so that without him it could not subsist? What if he were? Would the Bishop of Rome inherit this privilege? St. Cyprian was so far from this opinion, that he united with Firmilianus in rebuking Stephen, Bishop of Rome, for breaking this unity and putting himself outside of this unity, when he separated himself from the communion of
those who differed with him in belief concerning rebaptism. The question is not whether Stephen was right or wrong, but what Cyprian thought of his opposition. Now so far from believing that unity with Stephen was necessary to unity with the Church, he affirmed that Stephen had separated himself from that unity. Can it be said after this, that Cyprian placed in the Bishop of Rome the source and principle of the unity of the Church? He did not even attribute that prerogative to the person of St. Peter. He saw in him only the symbol of that unity, which resided in the entire apostolate, as it was subsequently to reside in the episcopate, which is one; which episcopate in its unity, is the see of Peter. He fully develops that reflection in one of his letters.* “Jesus Christ," he says, "in order to determine the
honour due to a 'bishop, and all that concerns the government of the Church, speaks in the Gospel and says to Peter, ‘I say to thee, thou, art Peter,' etc." Thus Christ does not confer upon Peter, by these words, a personal prerogative; he confers upon all the Apostles a power common to them all, and not only upon the Apostles, but upon all the Bishops their
successors, who jointly and severally possess the episcopate, which is one, and which is thus
the foundation of Church unity.
Is it consistent with this doctrine of St. Cyprian to affirm, as do the Romish theologians, that Christ gave to Peter a personal privilege, and that this exclusive privilege has passed to the Bishops of Rome?
The great principle that runs through the remarks of the Bishop of Carthage, is, that in the Church there is but one apostolic see; that is to say, as he himself explains it, but one legitimate episcopate transmitted from the Apostles; let this episcopate be attacked at Rome or elsewhere, it is an attack upon the unity and upon the apostolic see, which must remain one, as Christ has taught us by answering to one for all. It is this episcopate which is the
chair of St. Peter. Therefore when Novatus would establish at Rome, side by side with the legitimate episcopate, another episcopate which does not come from the Apostles, this last episcopate is out of the unity of the apostolic see--the universal see, the unity of which is typified in Peter; he is therefore schismatic, as well as all others who would establish in any place whatsoever, an episcopate separate from the one which constitutes the apostolic inheritance.
Instead of thus comparing the several points of the doctrine of St. Cyprian upon the Church, the Romish theologians have only consented to notice some few words standing alone, such as see of Peter, source of unity, for the sake of applying them without reason to the particular church of Rome, while they might so easily have convinced themselves that the holy Father understood by these words nothing more than the apostolic Church, or the
* St. Cyp. 27th Letter.
legitimate episcopacy in general. It is thus that he speaks of the lawful episcopate of Carthage as the see of Peter, as well as of that of Rome;* that he speaks of the early bishops of Rome, as the predecessors of himself, the Bishop of Carthage, which obviously means that he possessed the same legitimate episcopate that they had;† and accordingly, in the famous letter to Pope Cornelius, which has been so much abused by the Romans, because in it the holy Doctor calls the Church of Rome the principal church, from which sacerdotal unity proceeded‡ in this letter, St. Cyprian exclaims with indignation against a handful of unprincipled men, who sought an appeal to Rome, as if the bishops of Africa were not possessed of the same authority.
If, contrary to all evidence, we should accept the construction given by some Romish theologians to a few isolated words of St. Cyprian, we must conclude that the good Father
was wanting in common-sense. For on the one hand he would make Peter the foundation and chief of the Church, while on the other he would teach that all the Apostles had the same honour and power as Peter; he would make the Bishop of Rome sole inheritor of St. Peter's prerogatives, while maintaining that all lawful bishops are his heirs in the like manner; he would teach that the episcopate is but one, possessed jointly and severally by all legitimate bishops and at the same time he would make the Roman episcopate a separate and superior authority; he would regard the Pope as the source of unity, and in the same breath reprove the Pope for seceding from unity; he would recognize a superior jurisdiction in the see of Rome, while he would call those men unprincipled who did not see in Africa the same episcopal authority as in Rome.
We have already seen that St. Cyprian blamed Pope Stephen for pretending to be bishop of bishops, which, according to his real teaching, was in fact monstrous; but he had taught the doctrine that
Rome ascribes to him, he could not have blamed him, for it would have been legitimate.
Is it just, then, for the sake of favouring the papal system, to make of St. Cyprian a writer wanting in good sense and logic, and to isolate out of his writings a few words that may be interpreted in favour of this system, without noticing the rest?
We think it more proper to compare the several parts of the doctrine of one to whose genius and holiness all Christian ages have rendered homage. In this manner we find in his works a broad, logical, and catholic doctrine, but one opposed to the papal system. Whence it follows that the champions of the modern Papacy cannot rest upon his evidence, without falsifying his works, without insulting his memory, without denying by implication both his genius and his sincerity, which alone can give any authority to his words.
It follows from all this, that Rome cannot establish her pretended rights upon the testimony of either St. Irenæus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Firmilianus, nor of Eusebius of Cæsarea, without resorting to such subterfuges as are unworthy of an honest cause.
Such is also their practice with respect to numerous testimonies that prove the falsity of their interpretation of the famous text, "Thou art Peter." The Fathers, who understand it to refer to the person of St. Peter, are the most ancient, say these theologians; they were nearer
to the apostolic times, and understood the text better than those of later centuries. Upon that point they emphatically quote Tertullian, who, in fact, says:* “Could any thing have been hidden from Peter, who was called the rock of the church which was to be built ?"
At first sight, one might indeed think that Tertullian had applied the word rock (la pierre) to the person of Peter, but he explains himself in another of his works, where he
* St. Cyprian, 40th Letter.
† St. Cyprian, 67th Letter.
‡ St. Cyprian, 55th Letter. We have already explained these words.
* Tertul. De Prescriptions, cap. xxii.
says:† “If Christ changes the name of Simon to that of Peter, it is not only to signify the strength and firmness of his faith, for then he would have given him the name of such solid substances as are strengthened and made more durable by admixture and cohesion; but he gives him the name of Peter (the stone) because, in Scripture, the stone typifies and
represents Christ, who is the stone of which we read that it is laid to be a stumbling-stone and rock of offence.‡ Since, then, he thus changes his name, it is to express the change he is
going to make in the world, by transforming idolatrous nations into stones similar to him, and fit for the building of his Church."
With this explanation of Tertullian himself before us, where are the deductions that it is sought to draw from his first text?
And further, when we see Tertullian, in the work from which we have quoted, maintaining that in addressing Peter, Christ addressed all the Apostles; teaching, moreover, that the twelve Apostles were equal among themselves, like the twelve wells of Elim, the twelve precious stones of Aaron's breast-plate, and Joshua's twelve stones from Jordan; can it be said in good faith that he acknowledged in St. Peter any exceptional or superior prerogative? Above all, can he be said to have acknowledged these prerogatives in the Bishops of Rome?
One thing is certain, that the Fathers who seem to have understood the words “upon this rock " to apply to the person of St. Peter, really meant to apply it only to the object of his Faith, namely, Jesus Christ, the Man-God. We will give as an example St. Hilary of Poitiers.
This Father, in his commentary upon St. Matthew and upon the Psalms, applies to St. Peter the word rock of the Church, and regards him as its foundation.§
But in his work upon the Trinity he acknowledges that it is upon the rock of his confession--that is to say, upon the divinity of Jesus Christ--that the Church is built.** "There is," he adds, "but one unchangeable foundation†† that only rock confessed by the mouth of St. Peter, ‘Thou art the Son of the living God.' Upon that are based as many arguments for the truth as perversity can suggest doubts, or infidelity calumnies."
It is evident that in this place the holy Father means only the object of St. Peter's confession of faith--that is, the divinity of Jesus Christ. If it should be claimed that he meant his subjective faith--that is to say, his adherence--and that the Bishops of Rome have inherited that unfailing faith, it suffices to recall the anathema of the same Father against
Pope Liberius, who had grown weak in the confession of the divinity of Christ: "I say to thee anathema, O Liberius, to thee and to thine accomplices. I repeat, anathema. And again I say it to thee a third time; to thee, Liberius, then prevaricator."‡‡
According to St. Hilary of Poitiers, therefore, if St. Peter may be considered as the rock of the Church, it is only because of the confession of faith that be made in the name of the whole Apostolic College, and through the very object of that faith, which is the divinity of Christ. His doctrine thus agrees with that of Tertullian and the other Fathers, who have only in this sense applied to Peter himself the title of rock of the Church. If we add that this Father and the others nowhere imply that this title belongs to the Bishops of Rome, and further, that their teaching is even altogether opposed to that opinion, it will be admitted that it is only by a strange abuse of some of their words, taken alone and misconstrued, that the Romish theologians have sought to prop the papal authority upon their testimony.
† Tertul. adv. Marc. Lib. IV.
‡ Rom. 9 : 33.
§ St. Hil. of Poit. Commentary upon the 16th chap. of St. Matt., and upon the 181st psalm, § 4.
** St. Hil. of Poit. on the Trinity, Book VI. chap. 36.
†† St. Hil. of Poit. on the Trinity, Book II. chap. 23.
‡‡ St. Hil. de Poit. Fragm.
I ARISE TODAY IN A HYMN OF PRAISE TO THE LORD OF CREATION IN ALL HOLY Blessing and brightness, Wisdom, thanksgiving, Great power and might T...
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel + In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Most glorious Prince ...
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Father all powerful, Have mercy on us. Jesus,...
The Modern Papacy - an invention, Leo IX, the Schism that wasn't, Sedevacantism and its twin Recognize and Resist, 2 Esdras and its Jew False Messiah, the Antichrist announced by the False ProphetTimeline of the Schism that wasn't and the beginning of the Cardinalate that had never been. The Modern Papacy - an invention. In the...
Terse Open our hearts, O Lord and enlighten us by the grace of the Holy Spirit that we may seek what is pleasing to your will and so order...
5:38 We Three Kings of Orient Are (Sacred Rendition)
Vladimir Borovikovsky - Nativity of Christ (19th Century) The little child Jesus is already here The Kings and the shepherds adore without ...
Prayer for the Nativity Jesus Christ, radiant centre of glory, image of our God, the invisible Father, revealer of his eternal design...
It was the ancient Gnostic heretics which were the chief coming of Antichrist fakirs that the Early Church Fathers warned against and fore...
Christ will return, first: the Coming of Antichrist
The Parousia of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - The Nuzul i Isa (descent from heaven) of 'Isa al-Maseeh and Qiyamah, judgment of all men, at the Resurrection.