Thursday, April 10, 2014
Réné-Francois Guettée - The Papacy - part six
St. Epiphanius taught the same doctrine as St. Hilary of Poitiers.* “Peter, prince of Apostles," he says, “has been for us as a solid stone, upon which the faith of the Lord rests as upon a foundation; upon which the Church has been in every way edified. It was chiefly because he confessed the Christ, Son of the living God, that it was said to him, ‘Upon this rock of solid faith I will build my Church.’”
The Apostle Peter is not separated from the dogma he confessed; and it is this dogma itself which is the foundation of the Church.
We do not deny that St. Epiphanius called Peter prince of Apostles; but in what
The Romans cite the following text in their favour:† “Andrew first met the Lord,
because Peter was the younger. But subsequently when they had renounced every thing else, it was Peter who was first; he then takes precedence of his brother. Add to this that God knows the bent of all hearts, and knows who is worthy of the first place. It is for this reason that Peter was chosen to be prince of his disciples, as is very clearly declared."
Did St. Epiphanius mean by this, that Peter was the foundation and chief of the Church, or that the Church was founded upon the objective faith of that Apostle that is to say, the divinity of Christ, to which he had rendered homage? He answers for himself, as we have already seen.
“Upon Peter," he says, “the Church is built, because he confessed Christ as Son of the living God, and because it was said to him, Upon this rock of solid faith I will build my Church."
In the same place St. Epiphanius teaches that the words "feed my sheep" were not said by the Lord to commit to Peter the government of the Church, but to reinstate him in his apostolic dignity, which he had forfeited by denying Christ. "The Lord," he says, "CALLED PETER AGAIN after his denial; and to EFFACE the three denials, he calls upon him thrice to confess him."
Elsewhere‡ he makes St. Paul the equal of St. Peter at Rome, saying of them, "Peter
and Paul, the first of all the Apostles, were equally Bishops of Rome." And he thus speaks of
St. James of Jerusalem:
He (James) first received the see, (of
;) it is to him first that THE LORD INTRUSTED HIS THRONE UPON EARTH."§ Jerusalem
It is clear that he did not believe that it was Peter who bad inherited the throne of the Lord in this world. He believed then that the primacy granted to St. Peter was a mere priority, as Pope Leo** explains it in the following passage: “The disposition of the truth remains: and the blessed Peter has persevered in that strength of the rock which he had received, and has never abandoned the reins of the Church which had been confided to him; he received ordination before the others, in order that when he is called rock (Pierre) and foundation, . . . . we might know, by the mystery of these titles, what union exists between him and Christ."
This text proves that St. Leo saw in St. Peter nothing more than a priority of ordination. He believed that it was by his ordination uniting him to Christ that he was the rock (Pierre) and the foundation of the Church.
* Epiph. Hæres. 59.
† Epiph. Hæres. 51.
‡ Epiph. Hæres. 27.
§ Epiph. Hæres. 78.
** St. Leo, Sermon II., (III in Migne,) upon the anniversary of his elevation to the Pontificate.
He understands the power of binding and loosing committed to Peter in an equally orthodox sense. "This power is confided to him," he says,* “in a special manner, because the type (forma) of Peter is proposed to all the pastors of the church. Therefore the PRIVILEGE
OF PETER DWELLS WHEREVER JUDGMENT IS GIVEN WITH HIS EQUITY." Hence he concludes that only that will be remitted or retained which might be so by a just sentence and one worthy of Peter.
It is difficult to understand how the Romish theologians have dared to quote the two preceding texts in support of the papal autocracy, so evident is it that St. Leo ascribes to St. Peter only a primacy, or rather a priority of ordination, and that instead of ascribing to the Bishop of Rome only, the power of Peter, be regards that Apostle only as the form or figure of the apostolic power, which is exercised in reality wherever it is exercised with equity.
And this also explains these other words of St. Leo:†
"From the whole world is Peter chosen to lead the vocation of all peoples, all the Apostles, and all the Fathers of the Church; so that, though there are many priests and many pastors, nevertheless, Peter governs all those whom also Christ governs in chief.
"The divine condescension gave to this man a great and wondrous participation in His power; whenever He willed there should be something in common between him and the other princes, he never gave save through him what he did not deny to the others."
Such phrases that smack of panegyric should have their doctrinal interpretation according to the positive instruction which we find in the other texts of the same father.
St. Leo does not pretend that St. Peter's power, whatever it was, passed to the Bishops of Rome. His letter to the Council of Chalcedon proves this, as we have seen, sufficiently; and this power of the first Apostle did not make him master of the others ; it has passed to all bishops who exercise it lawfully; Peter was only distinguished by the priority of his ordination.
Romish theologians have misused the eulogiums that St. Leo and other Fathers have addressed to St. Peter, in an oratorical way, without choosing to see that even literally
understood, they do not constitute privileges transmissible to the Bishops of Rome, since none of these Fathers have recognized any in them; but no one who is familiar with the Fathers could take these eulogies literally. We will prove this by the works of St. John Chrysostom, whose writings have been most abused by the Ultramontanes, and whom they most prefer to quote in support of their system. They have accumulated texts to prove that the great Bishop of Constantinople gave to St. Peter the titles of first, of great apostle, of Coryphæus, of prince, of chief, and of mouth of the Apostles.
But if he has given the same titles to the other Apostles, what can we conclude in favour of St. Peter?
Now, in several places in his writings he says of all the Apostles, that they were the
foundations, the columns, the chiefs, the doctors, the pilots, and the pastors of the Church.
He calls Peter and John in the same sense, princes of the Apostles.* He says of Peter, James, and John collectively, that they were "first in dignity among the Apostles, the foundations of the Church, the first called, and princes of the disciples.”†
If he says of St. Peter, "Peter so blotted out his denial, that he became the first of the
Apostles, and that the entire universe was confided to him,"‡ he likewise says elsewhere of
* St. Leo, Sermon III., (IV Migne.)
* Upon St. Matthew, Homily 32.
† Upon the First Chapter of Galatians.
‡ Against the Jews. Eighth Discourse.
Peter and John, that the universe was confided to them;§ he says of
St Paul: “Angels often receive the mission of guarding the nations, but none of them ever governed the people confided to him as Paul governed the whole universe. . . .The Hebrew people were confided to Michael the Archangel, and to Paul were committed the earth, the sea, the inhabitants of all the universe--even the desert."** "In the kingdom of heaven," he says, “it is clear that no one will be before Paul."†† He further calls him the pilot of the Church,‡‡ vessel of election, the celestial trumpet, the leader of the spouse of Christ; that is, the Church.§§ In the following passage, he evidently places him above St. Peter: “In the place where the cherubim are covered with glory, and where the seraphim soar, there shall we see Paul with Peter, (Paul) who is the prince and president (prostátis) of the choir of saints."¶
It is most important to observe that St. Chrysostom attributes an equal dignity to these two Apostles when he mentions both of them together. We will give some few examples.
In his second sermon on prayer, he tells us that prayer has such power that it “delivered from great perils both Peter and Paul, the columns of the Church and princes of the Apostles, the most glorious in heaven, the walls of the universe, and guardians of earth and sea.”±
Speaking of the rebuke which Paul gave to Peter at
Antioch, he says: "Is any one troubled to hear that Paul resisted Peter, that the columns of the Church came into collision and fell upon each other? For they are the columns that bear and sustain the roof of faith; and not only the columns, but also the shields and eyes of the body of the Church, the source and treasury of all good things; and if one should say of them all that could be imagined, he
could not sufficiently describe their dignity."% Later he compares these Apostles to two coursers drawing together the chariot of the Church, adding, in allusion to his fall, that one of them, Peter, appears to halt.# He finally adds, “How, O Paul! didst thou, who wast so gentle and good with thy disciples, show thyself cruel, inhuman toward thy fellow-apostle," (Sinapóstolos)• Is it possible to say more distinctly that Paul was equal with Peter in dignity?
We find the same truth in the following passage, which deserves very particular
"Christ confided the Jews to Peter, and set Paul at the head of the Gentiles. I do not say this of myself, but we have Paul himself who says: ‘For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles. (Galat. 2 : 8.) For as a wise king (vasiléfs) who, after having carefully estimated the capacities of each, gives to one the command of the cavalry, and to another that of the infantry, Christ also did certainly divide his army in two parts, and confided the Jews to Peter, and the Gentiles to Paul. The two divisions of the army are indeed several, BUT THE GENERAL IS ONE."*
Here, then, is the true doctrine of St. John Chrysostom: The Apostles were equal in dignity; Peter and Paul were alike first among them, the one for the Jews, the other for the Gentiles; Peter never received any exclusive supremacy over all Christendom; the only chief
§ Upon St. John. Eighty-eighth Homily.
** Panegyric upon St. Paul. Second Homily.
†† Upon St. Mathew. Sixty-fifth Homily.
‡‡ Sermon on the Twelve Apostles.
§§ Homily upon the words, “May it please God that ye be patient awhile.”
¶ Thirty-second Homily upon Epistle to Romans.
± Upon Prayer. Second Discourse.
% Homily on the words, “I withstood him to the face.”
* Homily on the words, “I withstood him to the face.”
of the Church was, is, and ever shall be, Jesus Christ himself. Let us carefully observe these words of St. Chrysostom "I do not say this of myself," which signifies: this is not a mere personal opinion; it is a truth which the Holy Ghost has taught us by the Apostle Paul.
St. John Chrysostom has not recognized in the Church any dignity superior to the
apostolate in general.
Of all spiritual magistratures," says he, "the greatest is the apostolate. How do we know this? Because the apostle precedes all others. As the consul is the first of civil magistrates, so is the apostle the first of spiritual magistrates. St. Paul himself, when he enumerates these dignities, places at their head the prerogatives of the apostolate. What does he say? 'And God has set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers.' Do you observe the summit of these dignities? Do you mark that the apostle is at the apex of the hierarchy--no one before, none above him. For he says: 'First, apostles.' And not only is the apostolate the first of all dignities, but also the root and foundation thereof."†
St. Chrysostom recognized no supremacy in the apostolate. Had he believed that Christ had set one of the Apostles above the rest to be his representative on earth and the visible chief of his Church, he certainly would have said so, for manifestly then or never was the time to speak of it.
We can now appreciate the audacity which the Romish theologians display in asserting that according to St. Chrysostom, the authority of Peter was the most fundamental and essential thing, in the organization of the hierarchy, which the Church has received from Christ. The great and holy Patriarch is his own defense against those who have falsified his doctrine, when he tells them that the apostolate belongs equally to all the Apostles. “THAT IT IS THE FIRST OF ALL DIGNITIES, THAT THE APOSTLE IS AT THE SUMMIT OF THE HIERARCHY,
THAT NONE IS BEFORE AND NONE ABOVE HIM.” The Romish theologians make the most capital of this passage on the election of St. Matthias: "Peter always speaks first, because he is full of zeal; because it is to him that Christ has committed the care of the flock; and
because he is the first among the Apostles." A little further on, asking whether Peter would
not, himself, have designated some one to take the place of Judas, be adds, “Without doubt he could have done this, but be refrained in order not to seem to do a favour to the one he would name."
In the first place, these expressions that "Peter always speaks first, because he is full of zeal and because he is first among the Apostles," are the best evidence that Chrysostom never meant to say, because he was the chief of the Church. And thus the third because, inserted between the other two, "because it is to him that Christ has committed the care of his flock," is no, longer susceptible of the meaning attached to it by the Romanists; unless one would make the good Father contradict himself, not only in this passage, but in all his
writings This is abundantly confirmed by the explanation that the great Patriarch gives of the words, "feed my lambs, feed my sheep," upon which our adversaries most rely when they claim that it was to Peter alone that these words were addressed, and that to him alone was confided the care of the flock. "This," writes St. Chrysostom, "was not said to the Apostles and bishops only, but also to each one of us, however humble, to whom has been committed the care of the flock."* Thus, according to St. Chrysostom, these words were not said to
Peter alone and only for him; they did not confer upon him the dignity of supreme pastor of the Apostles and the Church; but were addressed to all the Apostles in common, and to all bishops and pastors who are equally the successors of the Apostles. Moreover, St. Chrysostom perceived neither honour nor authority in these words, but an exhortation to zeal
† Homily upon the Utility of Reading Holy Scripture.
* Upon St. Matthew, 77th homily.
and carefulness. "Three times," be says, "the Lord questioned Peter, and three times he gave him this command, in order to show him how much care must be taken for the salvation of the sheep."†
St. Chrysostom himself has refuted the conclusions that the Romanists would draw from the remainder of the text.
“Behold," he says, "how Peter does all things by common consent, and decides nothing by his own authority and power. . . ."‡
"It was not Peter who presented them, (Matthias and Joseph,) but all, (the Apostles.) Thus Peter did nothing but give them counsel, showing moreover that it did not come from him, but had been announced of old in the prophecies, and thus he was the interpreter, but not the master. "And again: “Remark the modesty of James, although he had received the Bishopric of Jerusalem, he says nothing on this occasion; consider also the great modesty of the other disciples, who, after unanimously giving the throne to James, no longer disputed among themselves. For that Church was, as it were, in heaven, having nothing of earth- shining not by its walls or its marbles, but by the unanimous and pious fervour of its members." . . .
The Romish theologians quote the first part of this text, but carefully abstain from quoting the last; such, indeed, being their habit,
According to this Father, therefore, the Apostles acted by common consent; they
chose together the candidates for the election; Peter did not speak as master, but as interpreter of the prophecies; James, who was the first in dignity, and the other Apostles, allowed him to speak alone because of their modesty, not because they did not possess the same power as he. If St. Chrysostom recognized a superior dignity in any of the Apostles, we should say it was
in St. James of
. In fact, beside the text already quoted, we find the following amongst his writings: Jerusalem
“Behold, after Peter it is Paul who speaks, and no man objects; James looks on and remains quiet, for the primacy had been committed to him. John and the other Apostles do not speak, but remain silent without the least vexation, because their soul was free from all vainglory. . . . After they (Barnabas and Paul) ceased speaking, James answered and said,
‘Simeon hath declared how God, at the first, did visit the Gentiles.' . . . Peter's language had been more vehement; that of James is more moderate. It is thus those should always act who possess great power. He leaves severity for others, and reserves moderation for himself."
Again, where he analyzes the words of St. James, he reasons thus.
"What means, I judge? It means, I affirm, with authority, that the thing is thus. . . .
James, therefore, decided the whole question."§
This passage may not seem to the Romanists to prove the primacy of James, but it assuredly disproves that of Peter--if by primacy we mean authority.
Romish theologians also quote St. Chrysostom upon the fall of St. Peter as follows:
"God permitted him to yield, because He meant to establish him prince of the entire universe; so that, remembering his own faults, he should pardon those who might fall."
We, have already seen that St. Chrysostom does not use this title of prince of the universe, in the sense that
Rome struggles to give it; and without that interpretation, the passage quoted presents nothing further in favour of the papal theory. As to St. Chrysostom's opinion of Peter's fall, he himself explains it:*
† Upon St. John, 88th homily.
‡ Upon the Acts of the Apostles, 8d hom.
§ Upon the Acts of the Apostles, 33d hom.
* Upon Chapter 1st of Galatians.
“Wishing to correct Peter of this fault of contradiction, Christ permitted that this Apostle should deny Him. . . . Hear what He says to him: 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.' He holds this language to him in order to touch him the more forcibly, and to show him that his fall would be heavier than that of the others, and that it would need a greater aid. For his was a double crime--that of contradiction, and that of exalting himself above the others. There was yet a third, still more serious--that of relying entirely upon his own strength. In order to cure Peter, the Saviour allows him to fall; and, passing by the other disciples, He says to him, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he
may sift you as wheat'--that is, to trouble, to tempt you—‘but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.' Why, if Satan hath desired to sift all the Apostles, does not the Lord here say,' I have prayed for you'? Is it not, evidently, for the reasons I have stated? Is it not in order to touch Peter, and to show him that his fall would be heavier than that of the others, that He speaks to him only? How, then, could Peter deny Christ? Because Christ did not say to him,
‘that thou shouldst not deny me,' but 'that thy faith fail not, that it do not entirely perish.’”†
How is it possible to discover in such language the faintest allusion to a supremacy of authority given to St. Peter upon the occasion of his fall? What singular boldness to maintain that our Lord meant to establish a distinction in favour of Peter, and to notify him of his elevation over the other Apostles, precisely at the moment when He foretold him his fall and denial!
The following words most evidently determine the meaning which Chrysostom gives to Peter's primacy. He says, in the first place, that this Apostle was "first in the church." Now “the first in a society," does not mean "the chief of that society." Again he adds: “When I say Peter (
Pierre) I say the solid rock, (la pierre,) the unshaken base, the great Apostle, the first
of the Apostles, the first called, the first obedient."‡ Evidently he praises Peter for the
solidity of the faith he had confessed; he calls him "first of the Apostles," because he was the first called to the apostolate. He does not say "first in authority," but "the first obedient." St. Peter had, therefore, the glory of being called first to the apostolate, and of being also the first servant of Jesus Christ.
As regards the alleged succession from St. Peter that is claimed for the Roman bishops, the Romish theologians sum up the doctrine of St. Chrysostom as follows:
"The Church of Antioch had the honour of possessing St. Peter for a time. She acknowledges him as her founder, but she did not keep him. It was to Rome that he removed his see; it was at Rome that he received the palm of martyrdom; and Rome has his tomb-- Rome, preëminently the royal city."
What says the Father?
“One of the prerogatives of our city (Antioch) is to have had for her teacher Peter, the leader of the Apostles. It was just that the city which first of all the world was adorned with the name of Christian, should have for her Bishop the first of the Apostles. But having received him as teacher, we did not keep him always; we yielded him to the imperial city of Rome; or rather, we have always kept him; for if we have not the body of 'Peter, we have kept the faith of Peter as our Peter, since holding Peter's faith is as though we held Peter
Peter is therefore nothing except for the sake of the truth to which he testified. St. Chrysostom says this expressly in the same discourse, and adds: "When I mentioned Peter, another Peter was brought to mind, [Flavian, Bishop of Antioch, at the time the discourse was written,] a father and doctor common to us all, who has inherited St. Peter's virtue, and
† Upon St. Matthew, 82d homily.
‡ Upon Almsgiving, 3d homily.
* 2d Homily upon the Title of the Acts of the Apostles.
has received his see in heritage.” Again, in his eulogy of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, we read: "St. Ignatius was the successor of Peter in his principality."† The Latin translation thus renders it: "St. Ignatius succeeded (St. Peter) in the dignity of the episcopate." This is incorrect. The principality in the style of the Fathers is the apostolate, which is indeed the source of the episcopate, but surpasses it in dignity and power. But whether translated principality or episcopate, St. Chrysostom's testimony is equally opposed to the Romish doctrine, that the Bishop of Rome is the sole successor of St. Peter. According to St. Chrysostom, St. Peter cannot in fact have occupied the see of anyone city, being equally and in a general sense the apostle-bishop of all the churches where he preached the Gospel, and where his teachings are preserved.
In this same discourse, St. Chrysostom calls St. Ignatius of Antioch, "teacher of Rome in the faith," and gives the following as the reason why Peter, Paul, and Ignatius died at
Rome: "You [inhabitants of Antioch] have through God's blessing, no further need of instruction, for you have struck root in religion; but the people of Rome, because of the great wickedness that prevailed there, needed more powerful aid; therefore, were Peter and Paul, and Ignatius with them, put to death there.”‡ In developing this subject, he adds : “The death of these Apostles and Ignatius was a visible proof and a preaching in action of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
In another discourse, St. Chrysostom shows just as plainly that he ascribes no right of superiority to the city of Rome, although Peter and Paul died there. He says: "I love Rome for her magnificence, her antiquity, her beauty, for the multitude of her inhabitants, her power, her wealth, her military glory; but, above all, I call that city blessed, because Paul wrote to the Romans during his life, because he loved them, because he spoke with them,
during his sojourn among them, and ended his life in their midst."§ He thus merely expresses a personal sentiment of affection for the city of
Rome. The praises he gives her are earthly and temporal. He merely says, "I love Rome," but he does not say that he recognizes the
Church of that city as the Queen of Churches - the mother and mistress of all others. He
ascribes no privilege to her on account of St. Peter. We see, therefore, that, in seeking to give the sanction of so great a name to their doctrine of papal prerogative, the Romish theologians have distorted the works of this great divine. And no less the doctrine of St. Gregory Nazianzen, which, in respect to St. Peter, may be entirely summed up in this text: "Thou seest," he says, "how among Christ's disciples, all equally great, high, and worthy of election, this one is called the Rock, in order that on his faith he may receive the foundations of the Church."** He does not Say that it was upon the person of St. Peter that the Church was to be built, but upon his faith; nor yet upon his subjective faith, which was to fail so sadly at the moment of his threefold denial; but upon his objective faith--that faith which he had confessed in the divinity of Christ.
Romanists invoke the testimony of St. Gregory of Nyssa,* who says:
“We celebrate the memory of St. Peter, who is the chief of the Apostles; and in him we honour the other members of the Church, for it is on him that the Church of God rests, since, in virtue of the prerogative he holds from the Lord, he is the firm and solid rock on which the Saviour has built his Church."
Such is the translation of Roman theologians. Here is the literal translation from the
† Eulogy of St. Ignatius
‡ Eulogy on Ignatius
§ Homily 22, on the Epistle to Romans.
** S. Greg. Nazian. 26th Discourse.
* Greg. of Nyssa, Panegyric of St. Stephen
“We celebrate the memory of St. Peter, who is the chief of the Apostles; and together with him are glorified the other members of the Church; and the Church of God is strengthened, since, in virtue of the GIFT that the Lord has given him, he is the firm and most solid rock upon which the Saviour has constructed the Church."†
By their translation, the Romish theologians endeavour to convey the idea that Peter received an exceptional gift, that made him the sole foundation of the Church. St. Gregory positively denies the errours they would attribute to him in the following passages, taken from the same discourse they misquote:
" We chiefly commemorate to-day those who have shone with a great and dazzling splendour of piety. I mean Peter, James, and John, who are the princes of the apostolic
order. . . The Apostles of the Lord were stars that brightened all under heaven. Their princes and chiefs--Peter, James, and John--whose martyrdom we celebrate to-day, suffered in various ways. . .
“It is just to celebrate on the same day the memory of these men, not only because they were unanimous in their preaching, but because of the EQUALITY OF THEIR DIGNITY, protosthátis The one (Peter) who held the first place, ton omótimon and who is the chief of the Apostolic college, received the favour of a glory suitable to his dignity, being honoured with a passion similar to that of the Saviour. But James was beheaded, aspiring to the possession of Christ, who is TRULY óntos HIS HEAD, for the head of man is the Christ, who is at the same time HEAD OF ALL THE CHURCH.". . .
"They (the Apostles) are the foundations of the Church, the columns and pillars of truth. They are never-failing springs of salvation, from which flow abundant torrents of divine doctrine."
After again giving the same titles to Peter, James, and, John, St. Gregory adds: “Nevertheless, we have not said this to debase the other Apostles, but to bear witness
to the virtue of those of whom we speak; or, better still, in order to speak the common praise of all the Apostles.
All these titles, all this praise, given by St. Gregory to Peter, James, and John, refer
not to the dignity of their apostolate--that dignity was the same in all--but merely to their personal virtue. He is at particular pains to leave no doubt as to the true value of these encomiums, and upon the doctrine of the real equality of the Apostles, for he adds:
"As REGARDS THE TRUTH OF THE DOGMAS, they, (the Apostles,) like members, represent one and the same body; and whether one member be honoured, as the Apostle says, (1 Cor. 12: 26,) all the members rejoice with it. As their labours for religion were in
common, so also the honours deserved for their preaching of the faith are in common. Why,” he continues, "should we be so bold as to endeavour to express what is above our power, and to strive worthily to celebrate the virtues of the Apostles? Our encomiums are not for Simon, (Peter,) known as having been a fisherman, but for his firm FAITH, THAT SUPPORTS THE CHURCH. Neither do we exalt the sons of Zebedee, (James and John,) but the Boanerges, which means the sons of the thunder."
It is, therefore, not the person of Peter that is the rock of the Church, but the faith he confessed; that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, or the divinity of Christ, to which he bore witness.
Among the Greek Fathers there is not one who has taught a different doctrine from that of Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa. St. Cyril of Alexandria says expressly, "The word rock has only a denominative value--it signifies nothing but the steadfast and firm faith of the
† Mnimoné Pétros kefalí ton Apostólon Ke sindoxázete men aftó ta lipá méri tis Ekklisías, Epistrízete de I Ekklisia Tov Theoú. Oútos gar estí Katá tin dóthisan aftó pará tov Kiríov doreán I arrayis Ke Schirotáti pétra ef in Tin Ekklisian O Sotíe okodómise (Greg. of Nyssa.)
Apostle."* This forbids us to ascribe to Cyril the opinion that founds so great privileges upon that word, and yet this text has been quoted in favour of the modern Papacy by its
champions. They quote yet another passage: “He (Christ) teaches his disciple (Peter) that it was He that knew all things before they were created; He announces to him that his name shall be no more Simon, but Peter; giving, him to understand by this word that He would build his Church upon him as upon a stone and a very solid rock."†
Has he taught that Peter should be exclusively the foundation of the Church? No; for he teaches elsewhere‡ that “Peter and .John were equal in dignity and honour." In another place § he teaches that “Christ is the foundation of all--the unshaken base upon which we
,all are built as a spiritual edifice.” Has he in this taught that the privileges of Peter would pass to the Bishops of Rome?
He nowhere makes the least mention of such a thing. Why, then, do Romish theologians call him to witness? For we have seen that the application of the word rock to Peter does not prove that this Apostle enjoyed any exceptional prerogatives; much less does it prove that the Bishops of Rome have inherited any from that Apostle.
St. Cyril had, touching the prerogatives of St. Peter, no other teaching than that of the learned school of Alexandria. Clement, one of the great luminaries of that school, taught distinctly that no primacy--in the sense of authority--ever existed among the Apostles.
The disciples," he says,§ "disputing for primacy, Christ made a law of equality, Saying, 'Ye must become as little children.’”
Origen taught no other doctrine. Romish theologians quote some texts in which he seems to apply to the person of St. Peter the title of the rock, but they omit this passage, in which he clearly explains himself: “If you believe,” he says,** “that God has raised the whole building of his Church on Peter alone, what will you say of John, the son of the Thunder? What will you say of each of the Apostles? Will you venture to say that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Peter in particular, but shall prevail against the others? Are
not the words, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, addressed to them all? Have not
these words had their fulfillment in each one of the Apostles?" And such also is the teaching of Cyril of Alexandria, ever faithful to the traditions of his fathers.
The same is true of that of St. Basil of Cæsarea. Romanists have in vain sought to use him as an authority. It is sufficient to read him to be assured that he has nowhere made the Apostle Peter the rock of the Church, as they pretend. "The house of the Lord," he says,†† "built in the top of the mountains," is the Church--according to the Apostle who says that one should know how to conduct one’s self in the House of God, which is the Church of the living
God. Its foundations are in the holy mountains, for it is built upon the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets. One of these mountains was Peter, upon which rock the Lord promised to build his Church. It is just that sublime souls, lifted above terrestrial things, should be called mountains. Now, the soul of the blessed Peter was called a sublime rock, because he was firmly grounded in faith, and that it bore constantly and courageously the blows that were laid upon it in the day of trial. St. Basil concludes that by imitating that faith and courage we shall also become mountains upon which the house of God may be raised.
Some Western fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries seem, more than those of the
East, to favour the papal authority. But it is not so in fact. We have already given the
* St. Cyril of Alexandria, Of the Trinity, Fourth Book.
† St. Cyril of Alexandria upon St. John Book II. ch. xii.
‡ St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter to Nestorius.
§ St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromat. Fifth Book, fifth section.
** Origen, Commentary on St. Matt.
†† St. Basil on second chapter of Isaiah.
doctrine of Tertullian, of St. Cyprian, of St. Hilary of Poitiers, and of St. Leo. That of
Ambrose, Augustine, Optatus, and Jerome is the same.
According to St. Augustine, St. Ambrose had made the word rock in his hymns relate to the person of St. Peter, and this had at first led him to adopt this construction. St. Ambrose, however, explains himself in other writings, as in the following:* “Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was not of the person but of the faith of St. Peter that it was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it; it is the confession of faith that has vanquished hell." The truth confessed by St. Peter is, therefore, the foundation of the
Church, and no promise was made to his person, nor, consequently, to his subjective faith.
Among the texts of St. Ambrose, Rome relies chiefly upon this:† “The Lord, who questioned, did not doubt; he questioned, not to learn, but, in order to teach which one he would leave, as the vicar of his love, before ascending to heaven ... Because, alone of them all, be confessed Him, he is preferred to all ... The Lord does not ask the third time, likest thou me,‡ but lovest thou me; and then He does not commit to him, as the first time, the lambs that must be nourished with milk, nor, as at the second time, the young sheep; but he commands him to pasture all, that, being more perfect, he may govern the most perfect."
Now, say with much gravity the Romish theologians, after quoting this text, who are these most perfect sheep if not the other Apostles? Then they go one step further, and suppose that the Pope takes Peter's place, and the Bishops that of the other Apostles; and thus they arrive at the conclusion that the Bishops are the sheep as regards their relation to the Pope.
St. Ambrose never said a word that would sustain such inferences. He gives no dogmatic character to what he says of St. Peter. He proposes a mystic and devout interpretation-he has no intention to confound the Apostles, who are the, shepherds, with the sheep. Much less does he dream of any privileges of the Bishops of Rome, whom he does not even mention. A tottering foundation, indeed, for so lofty an edifice! St. Ambrose, like
Hilary of Poitiers, ascribes sometimes to the person of Peter, sometimes to his faith, or rather
to the object of his faith, the title of the rock. To his person he only attributes the title in a figurative manner, and by extension. "Jesus Christ," he says, "is the rock. He did not deny the grace of this name to his disciple when he called him Peter, because he borrowed from the rock the constancy and solidity of his faith. Endeavour, then, thyself to be a rock--thy rock is thy faith, and faith is the foundation of the Church. If thou art a rock, thou shalt be in the Church, for the Church is built upon the rock."
This explanation leaves no shadow of doubt upon the sense in which St. Ambrose took this famous saying, upon which Romanists rear the prodigious monument of papal prerogatives. Why was this name given to Peter? "Because," adds St. Ambrose, “the Church was built on Peter's faith." But what faith? His personal belief, or the truth he believed? St. Ambrose replies in the same place, “Peter was thus named because he was the first who laid the foundation of faith among the nations." What did he preach? Certainly not his personal assent. What he taught is, then, the truth that he believed; and that truth is the foundation of the Church.
The works of St. Ambrose are full of proofs against papal pretensions. But why multiply texts? One only needs to glance over his works to be convinced that he is no
* St. Ambrose, On the Incarnation.
† St. Ambrose on St. Luke, and passim.
‡ thus only can we do justice to the text. In fact agapás and filís are both properly translated “lovest,” as in our common English version; but in the Greek the two words indicate different degrees or loving—agapán being
stronger than filín)—ED.
authority in favour of the Ultramontane system. We shall therefore be content to quote only the following texts, in which he sets forth his belief concerning Peter's primacy.
In explaining these words in the epistle to the Galatians, "I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter," he says: “It was proper that Paul should go to see Peter. Why? was Peter superiour to him and to the other Apostles? No; but because, of all the Apostles, he was the first to be intrusted by the Lord with the care of the churches. Had he need to be taught, or to receive a commission from Peter? No; but that Peter might know that Paul had received “the power which had also been given to himself."
St. Ambrose also explains these other words: “When they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me:" "He (Paul) names only Peter, and only compares himself with him, because as Peter had received the primacy to found the Church of the Jews, he, Paul, had been chosen in like manner to have the primacy in founding the Church of the Gentiles." Then he enlarges upon this idea, which completely demolishes the papal pretensions. In fact, according to St. Ambrose, Rome, which confessedly did not belong to the Jews, should not glory in the primacy of St. Peter, but in that of St. Paul. Besides, she would then come closer to historic truth: for it is demonstrated that Paul evangelized Rome before Peter; that her first two bishops were ordained by Paul; and that her succession through Peter only dates from Clement, her third Bishop.
Finally, what does St. Ambrose mean by the word primacy? He attached no idea of honour or authority to it, for he says positively: "As soon as Peter heard these words, 'Whom say ye that I am?’ remembering his place, he exercised this primacy, a primacy of confession, not of honour ; a primacy of faith, not of rank."* Is not this to reject all idea of primacy as taught by the Romanists? It is clear, then that they wrong St. Ambrose in making him their authority.
No less St. Augustine. This Father indeed said,† "Peter, who a short time before had confessed that Christ was the Son of God, and who in return for that confession, had been
called the rock upon which the Church should be built, etc.;" but he explains his meaning in several other works. Let us give a few specimens:‡ “Peter received this name from the Lord to, Signify the Church; for it is Christ who is THE ROCK, and Peter is the CHRISTIAN PEOPLE. THE ROCK is the principal word; this is why Peter is derived from the Rock, and not the rock from Peter; precisely as the word Christ is not from Christian, but Christian from Christ.
‘Thou art therefore Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. I will build thee on myself—I will not be built on thee.’”
“The Church," he says again,§ “is built on the rock after which Peter was named. That rock was Christ, and it is on this foundation that Peter himself was to be raised."
In his book of the Retractations, the same Father says:* In that book, I said in one place, in speaking of St. Peter, that the Church had been built on him as on the rock. This thought is sung by many in the verses of the blessed Ambrose, who says of the cock, that “when it crew the Rock of the Church deplored his fault.’ But I know that subsequently I very frequently adopted this sense, that when the Lord said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,' he meant by this rock, the one which Peter had confessed in saying, ‘Thou art the Christ, the son, of the living God;' so that Peter, called by the name of this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon that rock, and which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it was not said to him, Thou art the
* St. Ambrose on the Incarnation.
† St. Augustine on 69th Psalm.
‡ St. Augustine, 18th Sermon
§ St. Augustine, 124th Tract.
* St. Augustine Retractions, Book I. ch. 21.
rock; but thou art Peter. The rock was Christ. Peter having confessed him as all the Church confesses him, he was called Peter. Between these two sentiments, let the reader choose the most probable."
Thus St. Augustine condemns neither of the interpretations given to the text, Thou art Peter, etc. But he evidently regards as the better the one which he most frequently used. Yet this does not prevent the Romish theologians from quoting this Father in favour of the first interpretation, which he admitted but once, and renounced, though without formally condemning it.
St. Augustine teaches, like St. Cyprian, that Peter represented the Church--that he was the type of the Church. He does not infer from this that the whole Church was summed up in him; but, on the contrary, that he received nothing personally, and all that was granted to him was granted to the Church.† Such is the true commentary upon the belief of the Fathers-that Peter typified the church whenever he addressed Christ, or the Lord spoke to him. St. Augustine, it is true, admits that Peter enjoyed the primacy, but he explains what
he means by that word. “He had not,” he says, “the primacy over the disciples (in discipulos) but among the disciples, (in discipulos.) His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons.” He calls Peter the first (primus) as he calls Paul the
last, (novissimus,) which conveys only an idea of time. And that this was indeed St. Augustine’s idea, appears from the fact that,‡ in this same text, so much abused by Romanists, because in it Augustine grants Peter the primacy, he distinctly asserts that Peter and Paul, the first and the last, were equal in the honour of the apostleship. Therefore, according to St. Augustine, Peter received only the high favour of being called first to the Apostleship. This distinction with which the Lord honoured him, is his glory, but gave him no authority.
According to Romish theologians, St. Augustine recognized the supreme authority of the Roman Church when he said that, the principality of the Apostolic chair has always been in vigour there;"§ but what did he mean by these words? It is certain that the Church of Africa, under the inspiration of St. Augustine himself, who was her oracle, wrote vigorously to the Bishop of Rome, warning him not to receive to his communion thereafter, those whom she had excommunicated, as he had done in the case of a certain Appiarius,** because he could not do so without violating the canons of the Council of Nicea. Far from recognizing the supreme authority of Rome, the Church of Africa, in accord with St. Augustine, refused
to that Bishop the title of summus sacerdos. St. Augustine did not, therefore, recognize the superior jurisdiction of the Roman Church.. What, then, does he mean by principality of the Apostleship? He leaves no doubt upon the subject. After having ascribed this principality of the Apostleship to St. Paul as well as to St. Peter, he observes that it is something higher than the episcopate. "Who does not know," says he, “that the principality of the Apostleship is to be preferred to every episcopate?”* The Bishops were considered, indeed, as successors of the Apostles; but while they inherited from them the apostolic ministry, they had no share in certain superiour prerogatives, which only belonged to the first Apostles of Christ. These prerogatives constitute the principality of the Apostleship, which thus belongs equally to all the first Apostles. And in fact, the title of Apostle-prince is given to them all indifferently by the Fathers of the Church. Every Apostolic Church, therefore--that is, every Church that has preserved the legitimate Apostolic succession--has preserved this principality of the see, that
† Sermons 118 and 316, Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul, Tract 124 on John et alibi.
‡ Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.
§ St. Aug. Ep. to the Donatist Bishops.
** Epist. Episcop. Afric. ad Celestin. et Cone Carth. III.
* St. Augustine’s 10th Sermon on Peter and Paul.
is, of Apostolic teaching. St. Augustine merely says that, in his time, the Church of Rome had preserved this succession of Apostolic teaching. Does that prove that he recognizes in
her a superiour authority, and one universal in the government of the Church? Assuredly not. So far was he from recognizing any such authority, that by preference, he sends the Donatists to the Apostolic churches of the East, to be convinced of their errour; not because he did not believe Rome to have inherited the Apostolic teaching-for we have seen to the contrary--but because Rome, mixed up as she was already with their discussions, did not offer equal guarantees of impartiality as the Apostolic churches of the East.
St. Augustine, who did not even recognize the right of Rome to interfere with the discussion of mere matters of discipline in the African Church, was still further removed from recognizing her doctrinal authority. In many of his writings he sets forth the rule of faith, and never in that connection does be mention the doctrinal authority of the Church of Rome. In his eyes, the rule of faith is the constant and unanimous consent of all the Apostolic churches. His doctrine is the same as that of Tertullian, and it has been copied, so to speak, by Vincent Lirinensis, whose admirable Commonitorium sums up perfectly the doctrine of the first five centuries upon this fundamental question. In view of this great doctrine so clearly stated by the Fathers, and in which not the faintest foreshadowing of Roman authority is to be found--a doctrine, on the contrary, diametrically opposed to this pretended authority--it is difficult to understand how the partisans of the Papacy have ventured to invent their system; for they must have known that they were thus putting themselves in direct opposition to all Catholic tradition.
Romish theologians quote with much pomp and circumstance two other passages from St. Augustine. In the first, this Father, speaking to the Pelagians,† says: “As regards your cause two councils have been sent to the Apostolic See. Rescripts have returned the case is finished--may it please God that also the errour be so!” The advocates of the Papacy thus translate this passage: “Rome, has spoken--the case is finished; Roma locuta
est—causa finita est." This expression, Rome has spoken--Roma locuta est, is a mere
invention. It does not occur in St. Augustine. The other--the case is finished--is there. We shall presently see what it means.
The second passage, similar to the first, is thus conceived: "Your cause is finished," he said to the Pelagians,‡ “by a competent judgment of the bishops in general; there is nothing for you to do except to submit to the sentence that has been given; or to repress your restless turbulence if you cannot submit !”
The first text dates back to the year 419, when the Pelagians had been condemned by two African councils and by Pope Innocent I. The second is of the year 421, when eighteen Pelagian bishops had appealed from this sentence to a general council. According to this text, say the Romish theologians, the condemnation of the Pope, confirming that of the African councils, had a doctrinal authority from which there was no appeal to a general council, and therefore Rome enjoyed a superiour and final authority in dogmatic questions.
These inferences are not just. In the first place, St. Augustine did not regard a sentence of Rome as final. Thus, speaking of the question of rebaptism, he asserts that St. Cyprian had a right to oppose his belief to that of Pope Stephen; and be says that he himself would not give so positive an opinion on that point if a general council had not settled it.* At the same time be admits that Stephen had with him the majority. He says to the Donatists, that after having been condemned by the council of Rome, they had one resource left--an
† St. Aug. Serm. 131. De Verb. Evang.
‡ St. Aug. adv. Julian, Lib. III.
* St. Aug. de Baptismate adv. Donat. de Baptismate ad. Petil.
appeal to the plenary or œcumenical council.† It thus appears that he did not regard the sentence of the Pope, even given in council, as final and without appeal.
It must be remarked, moreover, that in the case of the Pelagians, St. Augustine only once mentioned a sentence from Rome—in the first text quoted. In the second text, and everywhere else, he only speaks of a judgment given by all the bishops; particularly those of the East.‡ This, then, is St. Augustine's argument: “You have been condemned everywhere-- in the East and in the West--why then appeal to the Church in council, when all the churches unanimously condemn you?" The Pelagians relied on a sentence in their favour given by Pope Zosimus, Innocent's successor. How does Augustine answer them? “If I Should concede (what is not true) that the Roman Church passed this judgment upon Celestius and Pelagius, and that she approved their doctrines, it would only follow that the Roman clergy were prevaricators.§ This answer of St. Augustine overthrows the whole theory that the Ultramontanes would build upon this enlarged and distorted text. He did not exclude Rome in the judgment given against the Pelagians, because that church is Apostolic and a part of
the Church Catholic; yet his argument is wholly summed up in the following words: "Where will you go?” he says to the Pelagians. “Do you not see, wherever you turn, the army of Jesus Christ arrayed against you the world over; at Constantinople quite as much as in Africa and in the most remote lands ?"**
Beside all this, another proof that even at Rome as well as elsewhere in the church, the sentence of Innocent I. was not regarded as terminating the case is found in the fact that, after his sentence, the case was reexamined at Rome itself by Zosimus, the successor of Innocent, by the several churches in a great number of synods; and finally†† by the Œcumenical Council of Ephesus, which judged the case and confirmed the sentence given at Rome and in all other places where it had been examined.
When we are told how Pope Innocent I. happened to be called upon to give an opinion in the case of Pelagius, we see very clearly that the Romish theologians have
misapplied the text.
The African bishops had condemned the errours of Pelagius in two councils, without a thought of Rome or its doctrine. The Pelagians then set up, to oppose them, the alleged faith of Rome, which they said harmonized with their own. Then the African bishops wrote to Innocent to ask him whether this assertion of the Pelagians was true. They were the rather moved to this that the Pelagians had great influence at Rome.‡‡ They did not write to the Pope to ask of him a sentence that should guide them, but that they might silence those who claimed that heresy was maintained at Rome. Innocent condemned it, and therefore Augustine says: "You pretended that Rome was for you; Rome condemns you; you have
also been condemned by all the other churches; hence the case is finished." Instead of asking a decision from Rome, the African bishops pointed out to the Pope the course he should pursue in this affair.*
Here then again have the Romish theologians not only abused the text of St. Augustine, but also invented a part of it to suit the necessities of their cause.
† Aug. Epist. 4.
‡ St. Aug. Lib. I. adv. Julian
§ Ib. Lib. II.
†† Epist. Conc. Ephes. ad Cælest. v. et St. Prosp. Opera, Phot. Biblioth. Cardinal Noris. Hist. Pelag. Lib. II. cap. ix. Rom. ed.
‡‡ Epist. Snyod Carthag. ad Innocent int. St. Aug. Op. Aug., Ep. 191 and 194, Possid., int. Op. Aug. St. Prosp. Charon. Ad ann. 418.
* Epist. Quinque Episcop. int. Aug. Op.
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