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2. On the History of Ecclesiastical Law. — The Doctrine of the Church.
“In the fifty years that elapsed between the appearing of the Gratian book of laws (which contains, besides the Isodorian, numerous forgeries of the Gregorian Deusdedit, Anselm and Cardinal Gregorius) and the pontificate of Innocent III., the papal system achieved for itself complete supremacy. In the Roman Courts justice was dispensed according to Gratian’s law, in Bologna the teaching was regulated thereby, even the Emperor Frederick I. already had his son, Henry VI., instructed in the Decretum and in Roman law. The whole decretal legislation from 1159 to 1320 was framed on the basis of Gratian, and presupposes him. The same holds good of the dogmatic of Thomas in the relative material, while the scholastic dogmatic in general was made entirely dependent in questions of Church constitution on the favourite science of the clergy at the time, namely, jurisprudence, as it had been drawn up by Gratian, Raymund, and the other collectors of decretals. The 119theory, as well as the texts and proofs relating thereto, were derived by the theologians from these collections of laws.”189189See Janus, p. 162 f. With regard to the nature of the Church, while the Augustinian definition was firmly retained, that the Church is the community of believers or of the predestinated, the idea was always gaining a fuller acceptance that the hierarchy is the Church, and that the Pope, as successor of Peter, and episcopus universalis, unites in himself all the powers of the Church. The German Kings themselves were in great part to blame for this development, for while they, and, above all, the Hohenstaufens, led the struggle for the rights of the State against the papacy, they left the latter to its own irresponsible action in the ecclesiastical domain. Only when it was now too late did Frederick II. point out in his address to the Kings of the Franks and Angles (ad reges Francorum et Anglorum) that the hierarchy must be restored by an inner reform to its original poverty and humility.190190See the passage in Gieseler II., 2, 4 ed. p. 153. In its development to autocratic supremacy within the Church and the Churches, a check was put upon the papacy from the beginning of the fourteenth century only from France.191191 The “pragmatic sanction” of Louis the Holy is a forgery of the year 1438 (or about this time), as Scheffer-Boichorst has shown in the Kleinere Forsch. z. Gesch. des Mittelalters (Mitth. des Instituts f. österreich. Geschichtsforschung VIII., Bd. 3 part; published separately, 1887). In the first edition of this work I had still treated this sanction as genuine, but my attention was immediately directed to the mistake.
We cannot be required to show here what particular conclusions were drawn by the Popes and their friends from the idea of the Church as a civil organism of law in the thirteenth century and in the first half of the fourteenth, and in what measure these conclusions were practically carried out. The leading thoughts were the following: (1) The hierarchical organisation is essential to the Church, and in all respects the Christianity of the laity is dependent on the mediation of the priests (“properly ordained”), who alone can perform ecclesiastical acts. When we pass from Cyprian to Gregory I., from the latter to Pseudoisidore and Gregory VII., we might conclude on superficial consideration that the principle just stated had long been determinative. But when we enter into detail, and take into 120account the ecclesiastical legislation from the time of Innocent III., we observe how much was still wanting to a strict application of it in theory and practice till the end of the twelfth century. Only from the time of the fourth Lateran Council was full effect given to it, expressly in opposition to the Catharist and Waldensian parties.192192See especially the first and third decrees of the Synod; Mansi XXII., p. 982 sq., Hefele V., p. 879 ff. It was not, however, carried out to its full logical issue, as is shown by the admission of the right of the laity to baptise in case of emergency, by the recognition of absolution by a layman in casu mortis, and by the treatment of the sacrament of marriage. (2) The sacramental and judicial powers of the priests are independent of their personal worthiness. This also was an old principle; but after having been long latent, it was now strongly emphasised, asserted in opposition to all “heretical” parties, and so turned to account that by it the hierarchy protected themselves against all demand for reform, and, above all, evaded the appeal to resume the apostolic life. Whoever returned from the “heretical” parties to the bosom of the Church was required to declare that he recognised the celebration of Sacraments by sinful priests.193193See e.g. the confession of Durandus, Innocent III., ep. XI. 196. (3) The Church is a visible community with a constitution given to it by Christ (even as such it is the body of Christ [corpus Christi]); as a visible, constituted community it has a double power, namely, the potestas spiritualis and the potestas temporalis (spiritual and temporal power). Through both is it, as it shall endure till the end of the world, superior to the transitory states, which are subordinate to it. To it, therefore, must all states and all individuals be obedient de necessitate salutis (as a necessary condition of salvation); nay, the power of the Church extends itself even to heretics194194On the Inquisition, see Janus, p. 254 ff., and Thomas, Summa Sec. Sec. quæst. 11 art. 3 conclusio: “Hæresis est peccatum, per quod meruerunt per mortem a mundo excludi”; art. 4 concl. and heathen.195195Augustinus Triumphus (ob. 1328), Summa de potest. eccl. ad Johannem XXII., Quæst. 23 art. 1: “Pagani jure sunt sub papæ obedientia.” Yet this continued a controverted question in spite of the Bull “Unam sanctam.” Even these principles196196The hierarchy together with the monks are held as properly the Church. have their root in the Augustinian doctrine of the Church;197197There were certainly also passages to be found in Augustine that could be employed against the Gregorian claims of the Church, v. Mirbt. Die Stellung Augustin’s in der Publicistik des Gregor. Kirchenstreits, 1888. but 121from the logical expression and thorough-going application which they received between 1050 and 1300, they present the appearance of an unheard-of innovation. They obtained their complete formulation from Boniface VIII.;198198See note 2 on p. 122. but long before him the Popes acted according to these principles. The worst consequence was not the undervaluing,199199Gregory VII. carried to the furthest extreme the opposition to the evangelical doctrine that the powers that be are ordained of God; see epp. VIII. 21: “Quis nesciat, reges et duces ab iis habuisse principium, qui deum ignorantes, superbia, rapinis, perfidia, homicidiis, postremo universis pæne sceleribus, mundi principe diabolo videlicet agitante, dominari cæca cupiditate et intolerabili præsumptione affectaverunt.” But even according to Innocent III., the State arose “per extorsionem humanam.” On the other hand, even the strictest papalists, indeed Gregory VII. himself, were not clear as to the limits between civil and ecclesiastical power. repression and serious deterioration of civic life (here, on the contrary, there can be discerned also many salutary effects in the interests of popular freedom), but the inevitable profanation of religion, inasmuch as all its aims and benefits were perverted and falsified through the light being foreign to them in which they presented themselves from the standpoint of Church law; and obedience to an external human institution, that was subject to all errors of human passion and sin, was raised to the first condition of Christian life. “It was this Church on which there fell that heaviest responsibility that has ever been incurred in history: by all violent means it applied as pure truth a doctrine that was vitiated and distorted to serve its omnipotence, and under the feeling of its inviolability abandoned itself to the gravest immorality; in order to maintain itself in such a position, it struck deadly blows at the spirit and conscience of the nations, and drove many of the more highly gifted, who had secretly withdrawn from it, into the arms of unbelief and embitterment.”200200Burckhardt, Kultur der Renaissance, 3. ed. 2. vol., p. 228.
(4) To the Church has been given, by Christ, a strictly monarchical constitution in His representative, the successor of Peter, the Roman Bishop. Not only is all that is valid with regard to the hierarchy valid in the first instance of the Pope, but 122to him all powers are committed, and the other members of the hierarchy are only chosen in partem solicitudinis (for purposes of oversight). He is the episcopus universalis (universal bishop); to him belong, therefore, both swords, and as every Christian can attain salvation only in the Church, as the Church, however, is the hierarchy, and the hierarchy the Pope, it follows that de necessitate salutis all the world must be subject to the Pope. In numerous letters these principles had already been maintained by Gregory VII. in a way that could not be out-vied (cf. also the so-called dictatus Gregorii). Yet in his case everything appears as the outflow of a powerful dominating personality, which, in a terrible conflict, grasps at the extremest measures. In the period that followed, however, his principles were not only expressed, but were effectively applied, and, at the same time, as the result of a marvellous series of forgeries, were believingly accepted even by those who felt obliged to combat the papacy. At the time when the papacy saw itself confronted with a weak imperial power in the West, and with a still weaker Latin Empire in the East, this view of things established itself (from the time of Innocent III. onward) in the souls and minds of men. So far as I know, Thomas was the first to state the position roundly in the formula: “(ostenditur etiam), quod subesse Romano pontifici sit de necessitate salutis” (it is also shown that to be subject to the Roman pontiff is essential to salvation).201201Opusc. c. err. Græc. fol. 9. The Roman law was in general paraded in an extravagant way before the weak Greeks in the thirteenth century, and that had a reflex influence on the West. Then the whole theory was summed up in a form not to be surpassed in the Bull “Unam sanctam” of Boniface (1302), after the Popes for a whole century had strictly followed it in hundreds of small and great questions (questions of Church policy, of civil policy, of diocesan administration, etc.), and were in a position for daring to disregard all protests.202202The most important sentences of the Bull ran thus: “Unam sanctam ecclesiam Catholicam et ipsam apostolicam urgente fide credere cogimur et tenere. Nosque hanc firmiter credimus et simpliciter confitemur, extra quam nec salus est nec remissio peccatorum (the Church is now spiritually described with its head, Christ). Igitur ecclesiæ unius et uniæ a unum corpus, unum caput, non duo capita, quasi monstrum, Christus videlicet et Christi vicarius Petrus Petrique successor (there follows John XXI., 16; here the oves universæ were entrusted to Peter). In hac ejusque potestate duos esse gladios, spiritualem videlicet et temporalem, evangelicis dictis instruimur. Nan dicentibus apostolis: ecce gladii duo hic (Luke XXII. 38) in ecclesia scilicet, cum apostoli loquerentur, non respondit dominus nimis esse, sed satis. Certe qui in potestate Petri temporalem gladium esse negat, male verbum attendit domini proferentis; converte gladium tuum in vaginam (Matt. XXVI. 52). Uterque ergo est in potestate ecclesiæ, spiritualis scilicet gladius et materialis. Sed is quidem pro ecclesia, ille vero ab ecclesia exercendus. Ille sacerdotis, ille manu regum et militum, sed ad nutum et patientiam sacerdotis. Oportet autem gladium esse sub gladio et temporalem potestatem spirituali subici potestati, nam cum dicat apostolus (there follows Rom. XIII. 1) . . .non ordinatæ essent, nisi gladius esset sub gladio (the spiritual power trancends in dignity and nobility all earthly power as much as the spiritual the earthly). Nam veritate testante spiritualis potestas terrenam potestatem instituere” (is it literally institute? or institute in the sense of religious consecration ? or instruct? In view of the immediately following “judicare,” and of the sentence of Hugo St. Victor, which is here the source, the first meaning is the most probable; Finke [Rom. Quartalschrift 4. Supplementheft, 1896, p. 40] is inclined to adopt the second) “habet et judicare, si bona non fuerit (there follows Jerem. I. 10). Ergo si deviat terrena potestas, judicabitur a potestate spirituali, sed si deviat spiritualis minor, a suo superiori, si vero suprema, a solo deo, non ab homine poterit judicari, testante apostolo (1 Cor. II. 25). Est autem hæc auctoritas, etsi data sit homini et exerceatur per hominem, non humana sed potius divina, ore divino Petro data sibique suisque successoribus in ipso quem confessus fuit petra firmata, dicente domino ipsi Petro (Matt. XVI. 19). Quicunque igitur huic potestati a deo sic ordinatæ resistit, dei ordinationi resistit, nisi duo sicut Manichæus fingat esse principia, quod falsum et hæreticum judicamus, quia testante Mose non in principiis sed in principio coelum deus creavit et terram. Porro subesse Romano pontifici omni humanæ creaturæ declaramus, dicimus, definimus [et pronuntiamus] omnino esse de necessitate salutis.” As can be understood, the Bull at the present day gives trouble to not a few Catholics, and the attempt is made to strip it to some extent of its dogmatic authoritative character, or to find help in interpretation. A collection of the more important papal pronouncements from the time between Gregory VII. and Alexander VI. is given by Mirbt, Quellen z. Gesch. des Papstthums, 1895, p. 47 f. 123 The setting up of strict monarchical power and the destruction of the old Church constitution is represented in three stages by Pseudo Isidore, Gratian, and the Mendicant Orders; for the latter, through the special rights which they received, completely broke up the local powers (bishops, presbyteries, parish priests), and were subject entirely to papal direction.203203Janus, p. 166: “Ready everywhere to interpose and take action as agents of the papacy, entirely independent of the bishops, and of higher authority than the secular priests and the local clergy, they really formed churches within the Church, laboured for the honour and aggrandisement of their orders, and for the power of the Pope, on which their privileged position rested.” All the premises from which there necessarily followed the infallibility of the 124Pope had been brought together; they were strictly developed, too, by Thomas, after new forgeries had been added.204204There are specially to be considered here the Pseudocyrillian passages; see the valuable inquiry by Reusch, Die Fälschungen in dem. Tractat des Thomas v. Aquin gegen die Griechen, Abhandl. d. k. bay. Akad. der Wissensch. III., Cl. 18, Bd. 3 Abth., 1889. On Thomas as the normal theologian for the doctrine of infallibility, see Langen, Das Vatic. Dogma, 3 Thl., p. 99 ff.; Leitner, Der hl. Thomas über das unfehlbare Lehramt des Papstes, 1872, Delitzsch, Lehrsystem der römischen K., I., p. 194 ff. Thomas, Summa Sec. Sec. qu. 11 art. 2: “Sic ergo aliqui doctores videntur dissensisse vel circa ea quorum nihil interest ad fidem utrum sic vel aliter teneatur, vel etiam in quibusdam ad fidem pertinentibus, quæ nondum erant per ecclesiam determinata. Postquam autem essent auctoritate universalis ecclesiæ determinata, si quis tali ordinationi pertinaciter repugnaret, hæreticus censeretur. Quæ quidem auctoritas principaliter residet in summa pontifce.” Sec. Sec. qu. 1 art. 10 (“utrum ad summum pontificem pertineat fidei symbolum ordinare?”). Here, as usual, the thesis is first denied, then follows: “editio symboli facta est in synodo generali, sed hujusmodi synodus auctoritate solius summi pontificis potest congregari. Ergo editio symboli ad auctoritatem summi pontificis pertinet.” Further: “Nova editio symboli necessaria est ad vitandum insurgentes errores. Ad illius ergo auctoritatem pertinet editio symboli, ad cujus auctoritatem pertinet finaliter determinare ea quæ sunt fidei, ut ab omnibus inconcussa fide teneantur. Hoc autem pertinet ad auctoritatem summi pontificis, ad quem majores et difficiliores ecclesiæ quæstiones referuntur (there follows a passage from the decretals). Unde et dominus (Luke XXII. 32) Petro dixit, quem summum pontificem constituit: ego pro te rogavi, etc. Et hujus ratio est: quia una fides debet esse totius ecclesiæ secundum illud I Cor. I. 10: Id ipsum dicatis omnes, et non sint in vobis schismata. Quod servari non posset nisi quæstio exorta determinetur per eum, qui toti ecclesiæ præest, ut sic ejus sententia a tota ecclesia firmiter teneatur, et ideo ad solam auctoritatem summi pontificis pertinet nova editio symboli, sicut et omnia alia quæ pertinent ad totam ecclesiam, ut congregare synodum generalem et alia hujusmodi.” The tenet, that to every Pope there belongs personal holiness (Gregory VII.), was no longer reasserted, because, as Döllinger (Janus, p. 168) supposes, the danger existed of arguing from the defective holiness of a Pope to the illegality of his decisions. Nevertheless, though the doctrine had long been recognised, that through a special divine protection the Roman Church could not entirely fall from faith, and was the divinely appointed refuge for doctrinal purity and doctrinal unity, beyond the groups that stood under the influence of the Dominican Order, the doctrine of infallibility did not command acceptance. The history of the Popes was still too well known; even in the canonical law-book there were contradictory elements, and205205See the canon in Gratian ascribed to Boniface “Si Papa,” dist. 40, 6. On the whole question see Mirbt, Publicistik im Zeitalter Gregors VII., p. 566 ff. Popes as great as Innocent III. admitted the possibility of a Pope falling into sin 125in matters of faith, and, in that case, acknowledged the competency of the judgment of the entire Church.206206 See the admission in Eymerici Director. Inquis., p. 295 (cited in Janus, p. 295). It was thus possible that at the University of Paris a decided opposition should establish itself, which led, e.g., to the Pope being charged with heresy in connection with a doctrine of John XXII. The indefiniteness in which many Church doctrines (and theories of practice, e.g., in regard to ordination) still stood, and the hesitating attitude which the Popes assumed towards them, also prevented the dogmatic authority of the papacy from being taken as absolute.207207See the question of reordination in connection with “Simonists.” Although the falsification of history, by the publication of historic accounts that painted over in an incredible way the great conflict between the papacy and the Empire, reached its climax about 1300,208208Martin of Troppau and Tolomeo of Lucca. and the principles of the Thomist policy209209Thomas, de regimine principum, continued by Tolomeo. always received a fuller adoption, the decisive question of the infallibility remained unsolved. From about the year 1340, indeed, the literature in which the papal system was delineated in the most extravagant way,210210The most extreme works are those of Augustinus Triumphus, Summa de ecclesiast. potest. (ob. 1328) and of the Franciscan Alvarus Pelagius, De planctu ecclesiæ (ob. 1352). From the Summa de potestate eccl. of the former, and from the work de planctu ecclesia of the latter, Gieseler II., 3, 2 Aufl., p. 42 ff. and 101 ff., gives full extracts, which show that the glorification of the Pope could not be carried further in the nineteenth century. Augustinus asserted generally: “Nulla lex populo christiano est danda, nisi ipsius papæ auctoritate;” for only the papal power is immediately from God, and it embraces the jurisdictio et cura totius mundi. Alvarus carried the identifying of Christ with the Pope to the point of blasphemy, and at the same time declared the Pope to be the rightful possessor of the imperium Romanum from the days of Peter. At bottom, both distinguish the Pope from God only by saying that to the earthly “dominus deus noster papa” (see Finke, l.c., p. 44 ff.; observe that I have placed the word “earthly” before the expression, which indicates the trope here employed, so far as there is one), adoration is due only “ministerialiter.” (Finke, l.c., pp. 40-44, has objected to this last sentence, and believes he has refuted it from the source, Augustinus Triumphus. That, according to Augustinus, there belongs to the Pope the servitus summa [i.e., the Latreia, full divine worship] I have not asserted. But certainly Augustinus teaches that the Pope possesses participative and exercises ministerialiter the summa potestas [the dominatio, the divine power of rule]; in accordance with this therefore must the dulia also he defined which belongs to the Pope. Instead of the somewhat short expression “ministerialiter,” which it would be better not to use, I should have said: “The adoration” belongs in the way in which it is due to him who shares in the divine power of rule, and exercises it as an instrument of God.) ceased entirely to be 126produced. Only after 120 years did it reappear, when it was a question of rescuing and asserting the old claims of the papacy against the Council of Bâsle. It was then that Cardinal Torquemada wrote that defence of the papal system,211211De Pontifice Maximo et generalis concilii auctoritate; see also his Summa de ecclesia and the Apparatus super decreto unionis Græcorum. which, resting on a strict Thomistic foundation, was still regarded at the period of the Reformation as the most important achievement of the papal party. But from the middle of the fifteenth century the papal system, as a whole, was again gathering power, after the storm of the Councils had been happily exorcised by the brilliant but crafty policy of Eugene IV. Only the French nation maintained what ground of freedom was already won in opposition to the Pope (Bourges 1438). The other nations returned, through the Concordats, to their old dependence on the Autocrat in Rome;212212Rome, however, always understood these concordata as acts of grace, by which only the party admitted to partnership was bound. Even at an earlier time this view was maintained by Roman canonists, and was deduced from the supreme lordship of the Pope over all men. indeed, they were, to some extent, betrayed just by their own local rulers, inasmuch as these men saw it to be of advantage in hastening their attainment to full princely power to take shares with the Pope in the Church of the country.213213Think of the development of the territorial-prince system in the fifteenth century. Great rulers (Emperor Frederick III.) and small literally vied with each other, till far on in the sixteenth century, in injuring the independence of their national churches. The local princes derived a passing, but the Pope the permanent, advantage. This fate overtook, in the end, even the French national Church (through the concordat of Dec. 1516), and yet in such a way that the king obtained the chief share of the power over it. While, as the fifteenth century passed into the sixteenth, the Popes were indulging wildly in war, luxury, and the grossest simony, Cajetan and Jacobazzi wrought out the strictest papal theory, the former including in it the doctrine of infallibility.214214In the period of conflict between the Popes and the Councils the question about the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith had retired into the background. At the Union Council at Florence it was not mentioned. Even Torquemada admitted the possibility of a Pope falling into a heresy; from this, however, he did not conclude that the council was superior to him, for a heretical Pope was ipso facto deposed by God. This impracticable, imbecile assumption was first rejected by Cajetan, who reverted to the doctrine of Thomas, which was based on fictitious passages from the Fathers, while he added himself a new falsification by suppressing the proposition laid down at Constance: “error est, si per Romanam ecclesiam intelligat universalem aut concilium generale.” With him also originated the famous proposition, that the Catholic Church is the born hand-maid of the Pope. The hopes of the nations in the Council were 127quenched, the old tyranny was again set up; it was complained, indeed, that the ecclesiastical despotism was worse than that of the Turks, but, nevertheless, men submitted to the inevitable. About the year 1500 the complaints were perhaps more bitter than at any other time; but the falling away was slight, the taking of steps less frequent. Heresy seemed to have become rarer and tamer than in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, especially after the Hussite movement had exhausted itself. The “heretics” — so it appeared — had really become the “silent in the land,” who shunned an open breach with the Church; their piety appeared less aggressive. “It was pretty generally felt that it had happened to the Church with the Reformation, as formerly it had happened to the King of Rome with the Sibylline books; after the seed of corruption sown by the Curia had, for fifty years, borne a much larger harvest, and the Church itself made no more effort to save it, the Reformation had to be purchased at a much heavier price and with still smaller prospect of success.”215215 Janus, p. 365. The Lateran Council at the beginning of the sixteenth century, which treated with scorn all wishes of the nations and promulgated the papal theory in the strictest sense,216216The Pope, it is said in the Bull “Pastor acternus,” has the “auctoritas super omnia concilia”; he alone may convene, transfer, and dissolve them. as if there had never been councils at Constance and Basle, was tacitly recognised. But it was the lull before the storm — a storm which the Pope had yet to experience, who had entered upon his office with the words: “Volo, ut pontificatu isto quam maxime perfruamur.” (It is my wish that we may enjoy the pontificate in the largest measure possible.)217217On the handing down of this saying, see Janus, p. 381, n. 407.
Before the time of Thomas theology took no part in this imposing 128 development of the papal theory; even after him the share taken by it was small. The development was directed by jurisprudence, which founded simply on external, mostly forged, historic testimonies, and drew its conclusions with dialectic art. The meagre share of theology is to be explained on two grounds. First, Rome alone had a real interest in the whole theory; but in Rome theology never flourished, either in antiquity or in the Middle Ages. There was practical concern in Rome neither with Scripture exposition nor with the dogmatic works of the Fathers. Whoever wished to study theology went to France. For the Curia, only the student of law was of any account; from the time of Innocent IV. a school of law existed in Rome; the great majority of the Cardinals were well-equipped jurists, not theologians, and the greatest Popes of the Middle Ages, Alexander III., Innocents III. and IV., Boniface VIII., etc., came to the papal chair as highly-esteemed legal scholars.218218See Döllinger, Ueber das Studium der deutschen Geschichte (Akad. Vorträge II., pp. 407 ff., 418 f. When it was now much too late, men with clear vision, like Roger Bacon, or pious patriots, like Dante, saw that the ruin of the Church was due to the decretals, which were studied in place of the Church Fathers and Scripture. The former, in particular, demanded very loudly that the Church should be delivered from the secularised Church law which was poisoning it. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there were complaints constantly made about the papacy, and about the corrupted Church law (“Jurists bad Christians”) as being the real source of all evil. It was the spirit of ancient Rome that had settled down on the Mediæval spirit, that Roman spirit of jurisprudence, which had now, however, degenerated into a spirit of tyranny, and used as its means audacious forgeries. But the slight share of theology in the development of the hierarchical conception of the Church is to be explained not merely from the lack of theology, but, second, from the fortunate incapacity of theology (till past the middle of the thirteenth century) to lower itself to this notion of the Church. Anyone who reflected as a theologian on the Church, instituted researches into the works of the Church fathers, especially 129Augustine. But here the spiritual conception of the Church (i.e., the Church as corpus Christi [body of Christ], as multitudo fidelium [multitude of the faithful], as universitas Christianorum [entire mass of Christians]) came so clearly to view that for the time it riveted reflection, and there was failure to force one’s way with any confidence to the hierarchical, not to speak of the papal, conception, or it was only touched on. This explains how all the great theologians before Thomas, from Anselm onwards, even those of Gregorian tendency, achieved as theologians very little in promoting the development of the hierarchical conception of the Church. They taught and wrote like Augustine, indeed they still remained behind him in precise definition of the Church as an external society.219219See Hugo of St. Victor, de Sacr. II., p. II., c. 2 sq. In his Sentences the Lombard made no mention whatever of the papacy! So far as others dealt with the Church at all, even the firmness of Cyprian in apprehending the hierarchical notion of the Church was not reached. Numerous proofs in Langen, Das Vaticanische Dogma, 2. Theil. If Hugo differs from the other earlier theologians in entering more fully into a description of the Church, this has a connection with his interest in the Sacraments. What he says about the hierarchy and the Pope falls behind the Gregorian ideas, and therefore does nothing to advance them. Even about the relation of the Church (the Pope) to the State he has still evangelical ideas. And yet here, as elsewhere also, he must be held as in many respects the precursor of Thomas. Theology did nothing for the development and establishment of the papal system till far on in the thirteenth century, and it may here be said at once in its honour, that with a single, and that even not a perfect, exception (Thomas), it did only half work in the time that followed, leaving the most to be done by the Post-Tridentine theology.220220It is amazing that in Thomasius-Seeberg (p. 196) the sentence: “As in general, so also with regard to the Church, Scholasticism set itself the task of proving that what exists ought to exist,” is followed at once by the other: “It must be emphasised here first of all, that Scholasticism does not know of a dogma of the Church.” So far as I know, there is nothing to be found in the theological writings of the Schoolmen in the shape of rounded off formulæ for, nothing of strictly systematic exposition of, the conception of the Church (as in the case of the doctrine of the Sacraments). On the other hand, both in Hugo St. Victor, and in the later Schoolmen also, not a few fundamental lines of proof with regard to the notion of the Church can be pointed to which were directly and without change taken over by the 130“heretical” parties, and by men like Wyclif.221221The agreement of the “heretics” with the fundamental Catholic notion of the Church was not unfrequently substantiated by their Catholic opponents. These men were still naïve enough to hold the conception of the Church as societas unitatis fidei as their own basis; see correct statement by Gottschick (Zeitschr. f. K.-Gesch. VIII., p. 348 f. ). What most simply explains this is that the patristic, and especially the Augustinian, expositions still determined theology. Yet it is not to be denied, that from the middle of the thirteenth century theology took a certain share in developing the conception of the Church. It was just the Mendicant Monks — to the shame of St. Francis — who, even as theologians, began to be enthusiastic for the papal theory, after there had been conferred upon them such excessive privileges as could only be held legal if the Pope was really the Lord of the Church. There was added to this, that in the thirteenth century, in the course of the negotiations with the Greeks, theology saw that it had to face the task of ingratiating them into the papal system also. It was in connection with this task that there was awakened the interest theology took in the hierarchical conception of the Church which formed the presupposition of the papal system,222222The Council of Lyons in 1274 was of epoch-making importance here. The vigorous re-awakening of interest in the theoretic statement and proof of the papal system in the middle of the fifteenth century likewise finds an explanation in the transactions with the Greeks. In this way the relation of the Greeks to the West came to be of sinister omen. There was a wish to win them for the papacy, and this became the occasion for developing “scientifically” for the first time — mostly by means of forgeries — the papal theory! and the great thinker, Thomas Aquinas, now developed at once the hierarchical and papal theory, together with a bold theory of the state.223223Thomas develops the chief attributes of the Pope (summus pontifex, caput ecclesiæ, cura ecclesiæ universalis, plenitudo potestatis, potestas determinandi novum symbolum). The discussions on the distribution of hierarchical power may here be left aside (on the development of the notion of the Church as a monarchy Aristotle’s influence was at work). We have only to note how entirely the second conception of the Church, i.e., the hierarchical, is dominated by the doctrine of the Sacraments. The particulars of the Thomist conception of the Church were not dogma in his day, but they afterwards became the norm for dogmatic construction. That Thomas, moreover, does not place the hierarchical notion of the Church side by side with the spiritual without indicating a relation has been shown by Gottschick, l.c. pp. 347-357. Yet it must not be forgotten that such tenets as those of Augustine regarding the Church (taken in connection with predestinarian grace) continued to exercise their own influence even when they were subordinated to alien thoughts. Thomas (Explanation of the Apostolic Symbol; see also “Summa” III., qu. 8) begins by representing the Church as a religious community (congregatio fidelium, corpus mysticum) whose head is Christ. But while so describing it — as the community of those who are united to Christ by the love that proceeds from God — he at the same time accentuates the moral character of the community, as an entire whole ruled by the divine law, which embraces the earth, heaven, and purgatory, and which has its end in the vision and enjoyment of God. In more precisely defining the compass of the Church, Thomas’s process of proof is affected by all the uncertainties which we already observed in Augustine, and which were due to regard on the one hand to predestinarian grace (in accordance with which all particulars are determined), and on the other hand to the empirical circumstances. Even the reprobi, according to him, are in the Church de potentia, that is to say, so long as they stand under the influence of the virtus Christi or still through their free will hold a connection with him. Now, so far as the Church imparts to the individual the love of God, and thereby sanctification, it is an external community like the state, is discernible by external marks, is defined by an external limit (excommunication) and requires the hierarchical organisation; for this last is the presupposition of sacramental celebration. If, until felicity is reached, the life of the individual as a believer proceeds by stages of faith (i.e., of holding true upon authority) and is regulated by the several sacraments which contain the saving grace, this implies that it is of the essence of the Church that it is the authority on doctrine and the administrator of the Sacraments. But this it can only be as a community with a strictly legal and hierarchical organisation. In this way the second conception of the Church is brought by Thomas into closest connection with the first, and Gottschick (p. 353) is quite correct in further pointing out that “faith in the objective sense is part of the commands of the law by which (see above) the Church must be guided.” The Church as a legal authority on doctrine, and as a priestly sacramental institution, is therefore the “exclusive organ by which the Ilead of the Church, Christ, forms its members.” One sees then that a very spiritual conception of the Church, nay, even the predestinarian, can be brought into combination with the empirico-hierarchical (Summa III., qu. 64, art. 2: “per sacramenta dicitur esse fabricata ecclesia Christi.”) As salvation is a mystery that cannot be experienced, i.e., as a certainty regarding its possession can never be reached, inasmuch as it consists of forces that mysteriously operate in the human sphere that is inaccessible to reflection, nothing remains but simply to surrender one’s self to the sacramental saving institution, which, again, involves the graded priesthood. In this way the authority of the clergy necessarily became absolute, and the spiritual (predestinarian) notion of the Church, so far from correcting, necessarily aided this advance of view. Hence follows the tenet of the infallibility of the Church, which was bound to issue in the infallibility of the Pope; for some kind of rock to build on must be sought for and found. If this does not lie in an overmastering certainty which the subject-matter itself brings with it, inasmuch as it transforms the absoluteness of the moral imperative into the absolute certainty of the grace of God in Christ, it must be given in something external. This external thing, certainly, the infallibility of the priesthood in teaching and administering the Sacraments, can never guarantee to the individual the possession of salvation, but only its possibility. But he was far 131from surrendering, at the same time, the spiritual conception of the Church, or — as was done in the Post-Tridentine period — from correcting it throughout by means of the hierarchical. With all his logical consistency in the development of the papal system, he certainly did not derive the powers of the bishops and priests entirely from the papal; in his “Summa” he still works to a great extent with the notion of the “Ecclesia” as having the force of a central conception, and in doing so has no thought of monarchy. For him it is no figure of speech that the 132individual bishop “is called specially the bridegroom of the Church as also Christ” (specialiter sponsus ecclesiæ dicitur sicut et Christus).224224Summa, III. suppl. qu. 40 art. 4 fin. But, so far as the influence of Thomas extended, the result was unquestionably a mingling of jurisprudence and theology in this department and the acclimatising of the hierarchico-papal notion of the Church.225225 The attitude to the State was involved in the position that only the priest is able rightly to teach the law of God, but that even the States have no other task than to care for the salvation of the souls of their subjects by promoting the virtus that corresponds to the law of God. Yet his influence must not be over-rated. The Franciscan (Nominalist) dogmatic took little to do, so far as I know, with this development of the conception of the Church. Even at the beginning of the Reformation, the whole hierarchical and papal theory had no sure position in dogmatic — it was Romish decretal law. But it had attained more than a place in dogmatic. From about 1450 it was again energetically acted upon from rome, and the opposition to it appeared no longer so powerful as a century before.226226No good Catholic Christian doubted that in spiritual things the clergy were the divinely-appointed superiors of the laity, that this power proceeded from the right of the priests to celebrate the Sacraments, that the Pope was the real possessor of this power, and was far superior to all secular authority. The question, however, as to the Pope’s power to rule was certainly a subject of controversy.
This opposition we have still to review. Here it is to be observed, above everything else, that the imperfect public development of the conception of the Church was a matter of little importance, because in the doctrine of the Sacraments all was already acquired as a sure possession which could be expected from a formulation of the conception of the Church in hierarchical interests. From this, again, it followed still further, that the opposition to the hierarchical papal notion of the Church necessarily continued — in spite of all fostering — without danger, 133so long as the doctrine of the Sacraments was not objected to. But the latter again rested on the peculiar view of salvation, as the sanctification that leads to the visio dei, as active holiness (measured by the standard of the law of God). Here we must go back to an earlier point.227227A full understanding of the Catholic conception of the Church can only be reached by starting from the conception of the Sacraments, which, as has been observed, is dependent on the view taken of salvation. But from this point of view it can also be said that the Catholic notion of the Church forms the necessary supplement to the imperfect idea of faith. That which is lacking to faith, taken in the Catholic sense, namely, the certitudo salutis, is supplied by the doctrinal authority of the Church on the one side and by the Sacramental Church institution on the other, and yet in such a way that it is obtained only approximately..
Augustine combined the old Catholic notion of salvation, as the visio et fruitio dei (vision and enjoyment of God), with the doctrine of predestination on the one hand and with the doctrine of the regnum Christi (kingdom of Christ) and the process of justification on the other. As contrasted with the Greek view, both combinations were new; but the union of the idea of salvation with the process of justification and sanctification was easily effected, because this process was taken as regulated entirely by the Sacraments, while the Sacraments, as the Greek development shows, formed the necessary correlate to the idea of salvation. If in salvation, that is to say, the supramundane condition in which one is to find himself is mainly emphasised, then there answer to the production of this condition, means that operate as holy natural forces. When Augustine conceived of these natural forces as forces of love working for righteousness, a very great step of progress was taken; but no difference was made thereby in the general scheme, since love was regarded as infused. But certainly he made it possible that there should also be given to the whole process a very decided tendency towards morality — which had dropped out of the Greek view as held within the lines of dogma. The forces of love, that is to say, bring it about that here on earth the law of Christ, which is summed up in the commandment to love, can be fulfilled. In this way there arises from the forces of love, which are transmitted through the Sacraments as channels, the kingdom of Christ, in which righteousness reigns according to the 134example and law of Christ. The Sacraments have therefore the double effect, that of preparing for, and conducting gradually to the visio et fruitio dei, and that of producing on earth the Church in which the law of Christ reigns and by which the “bene vivere” (right-living) is produced. By the latter of these two views the position of the State is determined — as the bene vivere is its end, it must submit itself to the sacramental institution. But by the whole idea the priesthood as the teaching and sanctifying corporation is legitimised; for the administration of the Sacraments is tied to a particular order, whom Christ has appointed, and this order, at the same time, is alone empowered to interpret the law of Christ with binding authority. To them, therefore, there must be subjection.
This whole view, which, certainly, had not received a clear and precise expression from Augustine, obtained clearness and precision in the period that followed — less through the labours of the theologians than by the force of the resolute Roman policy. Because this policy aimed, above all, at monarchy in the Church, it had, as the result of its victorious exercise, brought out clearly for the first time, and at the same time created, the general hierarchical conditions requisite for the existence of such a monarchy. Yet, in spite of many forgeries, it could not bring it about that the factor of hierarchical gradation, comparatively insignificant from a dogmatic point of view, but extremely important from the point of view of practice, should obtain the support of an imposing tradition; for from Augustine and the Fathers in general it was as good as absent. But still further, Augustine, as we have noted above, combined with the dogma of salvation as the visio dei the doctrine of predestination, and developed from the latter a doctrine of the Church that held a neutral relation to hierarchy and sacrament. No doubt it can easily be shown that the predestinarian and the sacramental hierarchical notions of the Church are not necessarily mutually exclusive, nay, that in a certain sense they require each other, inasmuch as the individual’s uncertainty of his own election, affirmed by Augustine, necessarily forces him to make a diligent use of all the means furnished by the Church, and the explanation very naturally occurs that God effectuates the fulfilment 135of the predestinating decree only through the empirical Church with its Sacraments. But Augustine himself did not assert that; and although in the time that came after, this mode of adjusting things came to be very much in favour, yet, as there was no allowing the doctrine of predestination to drop out, there was involved in this doctrine an element that threatened, like an overhanging mass of rock, to destroy the existence of the structure beneath. Finally, Augustine had no doubt carried on a victorious conflict with Donatism; but there was still one point at which it was not easy to deny entirely the correctness of the Donatist thesis, and that was the sacrament of penance. It could certainly be made credible that baptism, the Lord’s supper, confirmation, ordination were valid, even when an unworthy priest dispensed them; but how was such a man to be able to sit in judgment upon the holy and the unholy, to apply the law of Christ, to bind and loose, if the load rested on himself of ignorance of sin? It was surely more than paradoxical, it was an inconceivable thought, that the blind should be able to judge aright as to light and darkness. Was excommunication by such a man to be held valid before God? Was his absolution to have force? There was no doubt an escape sought for here, also, by saying that it is Christ who binds and looses, not the priest, who is only a minister; but when flagrant unrighteousness was practised by the priest, when such cases increased in number, what was then to be done?228228Let it be distinctly noted here that it was just the strict papal system that had widely given rise in the period of the great conflicts (eleventh and twelfth centuries) to the greatest uncertainty about ordinations, seeing that the Popes cancelled without hesitation “simonistic” orders, and likewise orders of the imperial bishops, nay, even ordinations at which a single simonist had been present. Innocent II., indeed, at the second Lateran Council, pronounced invalid all ordinations of the schismatics, i.e., of the bishops who adhered to Pope Anaclete II. (“From him whom he hath ordained we take away the orders” [evacuamus et irritas esse consemus]; the curialist theologians are disposed to see in this only a suspension of the exercise of office; Hefele, Concil. Gesch. V.2, p. 438 f., leaves the passage unexplained; Friedrich [in his edition of Janus, 2 Aufl., pp. 143, 456] holds to the cancelling of the orders.) Thus it was the Popes who were the instructors of those sects that spread the greatest uncertainty as to the most important Catholic question, the question regarding the validity of orders. At the time of the Schism it was laid down by the papal Secretary, Coluccio Salutato, that as all Church power emanates from the Pope, and as a wrongly elected Pope has himself no power, such an one can give none; consequently the bishops and priests ordained since the death of Gregory XI. were incompetent to dispense the Sacraments. If, accordingly, says Coluccio, a believer adores the Eucharist that has been consecrated by a bishop ordained in the Schism, he worships an idol (in a letter to Jost of Moravia in Martene, Thes. Anecd. II., p. 1159, quoted by Janus, p. 318).136
In a way indicating the greatest acuteness, Thomas combined the predestinarian (spiritual) and the hierarchical conceptions of the Church, and tried to eliminate the points from which a “heretical” conception could develop itself; but it is apparent from what has been stated that one could accept substantially the Augustinian-Thomist notion of the Church with its premises (doctrines of salvation and the Sacraments), and yet, when tested by the claims which the Mediæval Church set up at the time of its greatest power, could become “heretical,” in the event, namely, of his either (1) contesting the hierarchical gradation of the priestly order; or (2) giving to the religious idea of the Church implied in the thought of predestination a place superior to the conception of the empirical Church; or (3) applying to the priests, and thereby to the authorities of the Church, the test of the law of God, before admitting their right to exercise, as holding the keys, the power of binding and loosing.
Certainly during the whole of the Middle Ages there were sects who attacked the Catholic notion of the Church at the root; but however important they may be for the history of culture, they play no part in the history of dogma; for as their opposition, as a rule, developed itself from dualistic or pantheistic premises (surviving effects of old Gnostic or Manichæan views), they stood outside of ordinary Christendom, and, while no doubt affecting many individual members within it, had no influence on Church doctrine.229229There are referred to here sects like the Catharists and Albigenses, “Patarenes,” “Bulgarians,” as also the adherents of Amalrich of Bena, the Ortliebists (allied to the Waldensians), the sect of the New Spirit, the sect of the Free Spirit, and many similar movements; see Hahn, Gesch. der Ketzer ins Mittelalter, 3 Bdd., Reuter, Aufklärung Bd. II., the different works of Ch. Schmidt, Jundt, Preger, Haupt; Staude, Urspr. d. Katharer (Ztschr. f. K.-Gesch. V. I); Döllinger, Beiträge z. Sectengesch. des Mittelalters, 1890. On the other hand, it may be asserted that all the movements which are described as “reformations anticipating the Reformation,” and which for a time resisted not unsuccessfully the introduction of the Romish 137conception of the Church, set out from the Augustinian conception of the Church, but took exception to the development of this conception, from the three points that have been defined above. Now whether we look at the Waldensian, the Lombard, the Apocalyptico-Joachimic, the Franciscan opposition to the new conception of the Church, whether at that of the Empire or the Councils, of Wyclif or Huss, or even, indeed, at the humanist, we have always the same spectacle. On the first view the opposition seems radical, nay, expressly antagonistic. Angry curses — Anti-Christ, Babylon, Church of the devil, priests of the devil, etc. — catch the ear everywhere. But if we look a little more closely, the opposition is really much tamer. That fundamental Catholic conception of the Church, as a sacramental institution, is not objected to, because the fundamental conception of salvation and of blessedness remains unassailed. Although all hierarchical gradation may be rejected, the conception of the hierarchical priesthood is allowed to stand; although the Church may be conceived of as the community of the predestinated, every Christian must place himself under the influence of the Sacraments dispensed by the Church, and must use them most diligently, for by means of these his election is effected; although the sacramental acts of unworthy priests may be invalid, still priests are needed, but they must live according to the law of Christ; although the Church as the community of the predestinated may be known only to God, yet the empirical Church is the true Church, if the apostolic life prevails in it, and a true empirical Church of the kind is absolutely necessary, and can be restored by reforms; although, finally, all secular rights may have to be denied to the Pope and the priesthood, yet secular right in general is something that has gradually to disappear. The criticism of the Romish conception of the Church is therefore entirely a criticism from within.
The criticism must not on that account be under-estimated; it certainly accomplished great things; in it the spiritual and moral gained supremacy over the legal and empirical, and Luther was fortunate when he came to know Huss’s doctrine of the Church. Yet we must not be deceived by this as to the 138fact that the conception of the Church held by all the opposing parties was only a form of the Augustinian conception of the Church, modified by the Waldensian-Franciscan ideal of the apostolic life (according to the law of Christ). The ways in which the elements were mingled in the programmes of the opposition parties were very different; at one time the predestinarian element preponderated, at another time an apocalyptic-legal, at another the Franciscan, at another the biblical (the lex Christi), at another they were all present in equipoise. Especially on the ground that these opposition parties, starting from the doctrine of predestination, enforced the conception of the “invisible Church,” and applied the standard of Scripture to everything, they are praised as evangelical. But attention has very rightly been drawn of late to the fact230230See Gottschick in the dissertation cited above and K. Müller, Bericht, etc., p. 37 f. that they by no means renounced the conception of an empirical, true Church, a conception to which they were driven by individual uncertainty about election, and that their stand-point on the ground of Scripture is the Catholic-legal, as it had been adopted by Augustine, Bernard, and Francis.
Under such circumstances it is enough to delineate in a few of their features the conceptions of the Church held by the several parties. The Waldensians contested neither the Catholic cultus nor the Sacraments and the hierarchical constitution in themselves, but they protested (1) as against a mortal sin, against the Catholic clergy exercising the rights of the successors of the Apostles without adopting the apostolic life; and (2) against the comprehensive power of government on the part of the Pope and the bishops, hence against the Romish hierarchy with its graded ranks. But the French Waldensians did not, nevertheless, contest the validity of the Sacraments dispensed by unworthy priests, though this certainly was done by those of Lombardy.231231See above, p. 90, and Müller, Waldesier, p. 93 ff. and passim. Among the Waldensians, then, the conception of the law of Christ, as set forth in Scripture and as prescribing to the priests the apostolic life, rises above all other marks of the Church (among those in Italy the Donatist 139element developed itself from this). The same applies to a part of the Franciscans, who passed over to the opposition. In the sharp polemic against Rome on the part of the Joachimites, the apocalyptic element takes its place side by side with the legal: clergy and hierarchy are judged from the standpoint of emancipated monachism and of the approaching end of time.232232See Reuter., 1.c. II., p. 191 if., and Archiv. f. Litt.-und K.-Gesch. des Mittelalters I., p. 105 ff. No wonder that just this view gained favour with not a few Franciscans, that it extended itself to far in the North among all sections of the people,233233In greater numbers than before protocols of processes against heretics have been published in recent years; see Wattenbach in the Sitzungsberichten der Berliner Academie, 1886, IV., and Döllinger, l.c., Bd. 2. We can very easily understand how, above all, the charge was brought against the heretics that they did away with the Sacraments. and that it came to take up a friendly (Ghibelline) attitude towards the State. As thus modified it freed itself up to a certain point from the wild apocalyptic elements, and passed over to be merged in the imperialist opposition. Here also they were again Franciscans who passed over also, and to some extent, indeed, conducted the resistance to the papal power (Occam). In this opposition the dispute was by no means about the Church as a sacramental institution and as a priesthood, but simply about the legitimacy of the hierarchical gradation of rank (including the Pope, whose divine appointment Occam contested), and about the governing powers of the hierarchy, which were denied. But these powers were denied on the ground of the Franciscan view, that the Church admits of no secular constitution, and that the hierarchy must be poor and without rights. The assigning of the entire legal sphere to the State was at bottom an expression of contempt for that sphere, not indeed on the part of all literary opponents of the papacy in the fourteenth century, but yet on the part of not a few of them.234234Besides Occam, Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun are specially to he named here; cf. Riezler, Die lit. Widersacher der Päpste z. Z. Ludwig’s des Bayern, 1874, K. Müller, der Kampf Ludwig’s d. B. mit der röm. Curie, 2 Bdd., 1879 f., Friedberg, Die Grenzen zwischen Staat und Kirche, 1882, the same author, Die mittelalterlichen Lehren über d. Verh. v. St. u. K., 1874 Dorner, Das Verhältniss von K. u. St. nach Occam (Stud. u. Krit. 1885, IV.). How powerfully the idea of the State asserted itself in the fourteenth century (cf. even Dante earlier) is well known. The imperialist opposition was 140dissolved by that of the Councils. Reform of the Church in its head and members was the watchword — but the professors of Paris, who, like the German professors in the fifth and sixth decades of the present century, gave themselves up to the illusion that they sat at the loom of history, understood by this reform merely a national-liberal reform of the ecclesiastical constitution (after the pattern of the constitution of the University of Paris), the restriction of the tyrannical and speculative papal rights, the giving to the Council supremacy over the papacy,235235Cf. the famous decrees of the fourth and fifth Sessions of the Council of Constance: “Every legally-convened œcumenical Council representing the Church has its authority directly from Christ, and in matters of faith, in the settlement of disputes and the reformation of the Church in its head and members, every one, even the Pope, is subject to it.” Even the cardinals did not venture to refuse their assent. The Thomist conception of the Church was as yet no dogma; by the decisions of Constance it was tacitly — unfortunately only tacitly — described as error; but at the Council, so far as is known, no voice was raised on its behalf, and though Martin V. took his stand at the beginning on the newly acquired ground, it was only for a minute. That the Council of Bâsle, on an understanding with the Pope, gave a fresh declaration of the decrees of Constance, is well known. But thereafter Eugene IV. himself, and wisely, brought about the breach. On the Council of Constance we shall shortly be able to judge much better than before, when the great publication of Finke, Acta concilii Constanciensis will be before us, of which the first volume (Acten z. Vorgeschichte) has already appeared (1896). and the liberating of the national Churches from papal oppression, with a view to their possessing independence, either perfect or relative. The importance of these ideas from the point of view of ecclesiastical policy, and the sympathy we must extend to the idealism of these professors, must not lead to our being deceived as to the futility of their efforts for reform, which were supported by the approval of peoples and princes. They attacked at the root the Gregorian (Pseudo-Isidorian) development of the ecclesiastical constitution and of the papacy; but they did not say to themselves, that this development must always again repeat itself if the root, the doctrines of the Sacraments and of the priesthood, be left untouched. But how could these doctrines be assailed when there was agreement with the Curialists in the view taken of salvation and of the law of Christ? In face of the actual condition of 141things, which had developed throughout many centuries in the Church, the idea that the Church’s disorders could be healed by paralysing the papal system of finance, and declaring the Council the divinely instituted court of appeal in the Church, was a Utopia, the realisation of which during a few decades was only apparent. It is somewhat touching to observe with what tenacity in the fifteenth, and beginning of the sixteenth, centuries, men clung to the hope that a Council could heal the hurt of Israel, and deliver the Church from the tyranny of the Pope. The healing indeed came, but in a way in which it was not expected, while it was certainly the only healing which a Council could permanently bestow — it came at the Councils of Trent and the Vatican.236236On the conception of the Church held by the Paris theologians and their friends — they thought of themselves, not without reason, as restoring the old Catholic view, yet under quite changed circumstances the old thing became a new — see Schwab, Gerson, 1858, Tschackert, d’Ailly, 1877, Hartwig, Henricus de Langenstein, 1858, Brockhaus, Nicolai Cusani de concilii univ. potest. sentent., 1867. Also the works on Clemange and the Italian and Spanish Episcopalists. In particular matters the representatives of the conciliar ideas, at that time and later, widely diverged from each other, and more especially, each one defined differently the relation of the Pope to the Council and to the Church: there were some who held the papacy to be entirely superfluous, and some who only wished for it, so to speak, a slight letting of blood. The great majority interfered in no way with its existence, but aimed merely at purifying and restricting it; see the good review of the Episcopal system in Delitzsch, Lehrsystem der rom. K., p. 165 ff. Janus, p. 314 ff. No doubt it only needs to be recalled here that the Episcopal system arose from the frightful trouble created by the Schism, when the Italians wished to wrest back the papacy from the French. The termination of the Schism was a real, but it was also the only permanent, result of the Councils. Yet it must not be overlooked that in the definitions of the Church which the Episcopalists had furnished, Reformation elements were included, though these certainly were derived almost entirely from Augustine; for Augustine reiterated the position that the keys are given, not to an individual, but to the Church, and in his dogmatic expositions he always subordinated the constitutional to the spiritual unity of the Church.
Even before the beginning of the great opposition movement of the Councils against the papal system, the most important mediæval effort towards reform had been initiated — the Wyclifite, which continued itself in the Hussite. In spite of wild extravagances, the movement under Wyclif and Huss, in which many of the earlier lines of effort converged, must be regarded as the ripest development of mediæval reform-agitation. Yet it will 142appear, that while doing much in the way of loosening and preparing, it gave expression to no Reformation thought; it, too, confined itself to the ground that was Augustinian-Franciscan, with which there was associated only a powerful national element. Yet to Wyclif’s theory, which Huss simply transcribed,237237Wyclif’s works are only now being made fully accessible; cf. the Trialogues edited by Lechler, the controversial writings published by Buddensieg, and especially the treatise de ecclesia edited by Loserth (Wyclif Society from 1882). Monographs by Lechler, 2 vols., 1872 (and in Herzog’s R.-E.) and by Buddensieg, 1885. The discovery that Huss simply, and to a large extent verbally, adopted the Wyclifite doctrine, we owe to Loserth (Hus und Wiclif, 1884), see also the same author’s Introduction to the treatise de ecclesia. The results of Gottschick’s discussion of Huss’s doctrine of the Church (Ztschr. f. K.-Gesch. VIII., p. 345 ff.) apply therefore throughout to Wyclif. I do not venture an opinion as to how far Wesel and Wessel were influenced by Huss. Savonarola continued the opposition of the Mendicant Monks in the old style. a high value is to be attached, as being the only coherent theological theory which the Middle Ages opposed to the Thomist. All the other mediæval opponents of the Romish Church system work with mere measuring-lines or with fragments.
When we look at what Wyclif and Huss challenged or rejected, we might suppose that here a radical criticism of the Catholic conception of the Church was carried through, and a new idea of the Church presented. Everything must be determined by Holy Scripture; the practice in regard to worship and the Sacraments is everywhere represented as perverted and as encumbered by the traditions of men; the doctrine of indulgence, the practice of auricular confession, the doctrine of transubstantiation (Wyclif), the manducatio infidelium (communicating of unbelievers), the priests’ absolute power of the keys, are as zealously opposed as the worship of saints, images, and relics, private masses, and the many sacramentalia. For the worship of God there are demanded plainness, simplicity, and intelligibility; the people must receive what will be inwardly and spiritually edifying (hence the preference for the vernacular).238238The translation of the Bible was a great achievement of Wyclif; but it must not be forgotten that the Church also of the fifteenth century concerned itself with Bible translation, as more recent investigations have shown. With the thorough reform of worship and of sacrament celebration 143there must be a corresponding reform of the hierarchy. Here also there must be a reverting to the original simplicity. The papacy, as it existed, was regarded as a part of Anti-Christ, and this was not less true of the secularised Mendicant Monk system (as Lechler has shown, it was only towards the end of his life that Wyclif entered upon a vigorous conflict with both; his original attitude towards the Mendicant Monks was more friendly). The Pope, who contravenes the law of Christ, is the Anti-Christ, and in the controversial treatise “de Christo et suo adversario Anti-Christo,” it is proved that in twelve matters the Pope has apostatised from the law and doctrine of Christ. The head of the Church is Christ, not the Pope; only through Constantine has the latter, as the bishop of Rome, become great. Therefore the Roman bishop must return to a life of apostolic service. He is not the direct and proximate vicar of Christ, but is a servant of Christ, as are the other bishops as well. The entire priestly order exists to serve in humility and love; the State alone has to rule. The indispensable condition of priestly service is imitation of the suffering man Jesus. If a priest disregards this and serves sin, he is no priest, and all his sacred acts are in vain.
But behind all these positions, which were for the most part already made familiar by older reform parties, there lies a distinctly defined conception of the Church, which is not new, however, but is rather only a variety of the Thomist. Wyclif’s conception of the Church can be wholly derived from the Augustinian (influence on Wyclif of Thomas of Bradwardine, the Augustinian), when the peculiar national and political conditions are kept in view under which he stood,239239This has been observed especially by Buddensieg, l.c. In dealing with Wyclif, as with all the opposition movements from the thirteenth century to the fifteenth, the great national economical revolution in Europe must be remembered. At the same time the Anglo-Saxon type in Wyclif, as contrasted with the Romanic, must not be overlooked. and also the impression which the Franciscan ideal — even to the length of communism indeed — made upon him. Huss stood under quite similar conditions, and could therefore simply adopt Wyclifism.
Wyclif sets out from the Augustinian definition of the Church 144as the entire sum of the predestinated in heaven and on earth. To this Church the merely præsciti (foreknown) do not belong; they do not belong to it even at the time when they are righteous; while, on the other hand, every predestinated one is a member of it, even if at the time he is still not under grace, or, say, is a heathen or Jew. No one can say of himself without special revelation (revelatio specialis) that he belongs to this Church. This momentous proposition, which dominates the whole of the further discussion, is a clear proof that Wyclif and Huss stood on Catholic ground, i.e., that the significance of faith was entirely ignored. As a fact, the definition of the Church as congregatio fidelium was a mere title; for, as we shall immediately see, faith was not what is decisive; it comes to view rather within the conception of the Church as merely an empirical mark (equivalent to community of the baptized). Further, as it is an established fact that no one can be certain of his election — for how can one surrender himself here on earth to the constant feeling of felicity which springs from the vision and enjoyment of God after all other feelings have been quenched? how is it possible to attain to this state of heart even now? — then there is either no mark at all by which the existence of the Church may be determined, or we may rest assured that the Church of Christ exists where the legacy of Christ is in force — the Sacraments and the law of Christ. The latter, not the former, is the opinion of Wyclif and Huss. The true Church of Christ is where the law of Christ reigns,240240“Lex Christi” and “lex evangelica” were the terms constantly applied to the contents of the New Testament even by the Reformers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, see Otto Clemen, Pupper von Goch (Leipzig, 1896), p. 120 ff.; but at the same time it is in some way to hold good that that law is a “lex perfectæ libertatis.” i.e., the law of love, humility, and poverty, which means the apostolic life in imitation of Christ, and where, accordingly, the Sacraments also, which prepare for the life beyond, are administered in the Spirit of Christ. The predestination doctrine is not brought into service therefore with the view of making room for faith over against the Sacraments, or in order to construct a purely invisible Church — what interest would Wyclif and Huss have then had in the reform of the empirical Church?241241See Gottschick, 1.c., p. 360 ff. — but it is brought into 145service that it may be possible to oppose the claims of the hierarchy as godless pretensions and to set up the law of Christ as the true nota ecclesiæ catholica. For from what has been shown it follows that there can be no rights in the Church which do not Originate from the acknowledged supremacy of the law of Christ. The question is entirely one of establishing this law. A leap is taken over faith. The important matter is fides caritate formata (faith deriving form from love), i.e., caritas, i.e., the law of the Sermon on the Mount (consilia).242242See Ritschl, Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, 2 ed. I., p. 134. What is contested is not only the hierarchical gradation, but the alleged independent right of the clergy to represent the Church and administer the means of grace without observing the law of Christ.243243Huss adhered firmly to the Catholic distinction between clergy and laity. Wyclif regarded laymen called directly by Christ as capable of priestly acts. But that a direct appointment by Christ is valid could scarcely be contested even by a Romish opponent of Wyclif. The only question, therefore, must be as to whether such an appointment can be established. Hence the assertion that Wyclif and Huss opposed the universal priesthood to the priestly order is incorrect. How can such a right exist, if the Church is nothing but the community of the predestinated, and as such can have no other mark save the law of Christ? How, again, can acts of priests be valid, when the presupposition of all action in the Church, and for the Church, is lacking to them — obedience to the law of Christ? But this law has its quintessence in the Sermon on the Mount and in the example of the poor life of Jesus; nevertheless (this feature is genuinely Augustinian) the whole of Scripture is at the same time the law of Christ. This standard then must be applied to all ecclesiastical practice. And yet in its application, which of course must become entirely arbitrary as soon as the attempt is really made to follow the thousand directions literally, everything is to be subordinated to the law of love that ministers in poverty and — to the reigning dogma. With the exception of the transubstantiation doctrine, which Wyclif alone objected to, both Reformers left dogma entirely untouched, nay, they strengthened it. What they aimed at reforming, and did reform, were the ordinances relating to worship and Sacraments, which had originated in the immediately preceding centuries, and were justly felt by them to be restrictions on the 146full and direct efficacy of word and Sacrament. At the same time they did not renounce the view that the numerus predestinatorum (number of the predestinated) may find its earthly embodiment in a true, empirical Church. It certainly could not but come about, that in the Hussite movement, when once the watchword had again been emphatically given forth that everything must be reformed according to the law of holy Scripture, there should be introduced into the Church the disorder and terror connected with Old Testament socialist and apocalyptic ideas; but such things seldom last beyond the third generation, nor did they last longer then. There was a falling back upon patience, and the once aggressive enthusiasm became changed into silent mistrust and reserve.
How this Wyclifite conception of the Church, which really came into conflict with the Romish only about the Pope and the sacrament of penance, and arose from an over-straining of the good Catholic principle of the lex Christi (law of Christ), can be called evangelical, is difficult to understand. Equally with Thomas’s conception of the Church it leaves faith aside, as Luther understood it; and it has as its presuppositions, in addition to the predestinarian doctrine, the Catholic conception of salvation, the Catholic conception of the Sacraments, and the Catholic ideal of poverty. It puts an end to the priests who govern the world; but it does not put an end to the priests who dispense the Sacraments, who expound the law of God, and who alone — by the apostolic life — perfectly fulfil it. Will these world-ruling priests not return, if it must really be the highest interest of man to prepare himself for the life beyond by means of the Sacraments, seeing that that life is not attainable by faith alone, and a clear, certain and perfect faith does not fall to the lot of every man?244244See Gottschtck, l.c., p. 364 f.: “Huss has no other view of salvation than the ordinary Catholic one. Man’s goal is union with God through visio dei and the love dependent thereon. There is preparation on earth for this by means of faith and the meritorious fulfilment of the law of love. By faith is understood throughout the theoretic assent to a quantum of doctrines; there suffices for a good part of this quantum the fides implicita. Faith having value only as fides caritate formata, it follows that the chief matter is fulfilment of the law. But the qualification for this is dependent on the infusion of grace on the ground of the merit of Christ, a grace whereby sin is abolished. And Huss never mentions any other way in which this takes place than by preaching and the Sacraments, more particularly baptism and the Eucharist or the sacrifice of the mass.” Cf. the passages quoted by Gottschick, l.c., from the treatise de ecclesia, among which those upon fides implicita are specially instructive. I. 38: “Christianus debet fidem aliqualiter cognoscere.” 62: “Quantum oporteat fidelem de necessitate salutis explicite credere, non est meum pro nunc discutere, cum deus omnipotens suos electos secundum gradum fidei multiplicem ad se trahit.” 259: “Quicunque habuerit fidem caritate formatam . . .in communi sufficit cum virtute perseverantiæ ad salutem. . . . Non exigit deus, ut omnes filii sui sint continue pro viatione sua in actu cogitanti particulari de qualibet fidei particula (so always quantitatively estimated), sed satis est, quod post posita desidia habeant fidem in habitu formatam.” Wyclif had a similar opinion (“omnia sacramenta sensibilia rite administrata [but for this there is requisite also, and above all, the priest who lives like the apostles] habent efficaciam salutarem”). But however certain it is that this question 147 can only be answered in the affirmative (as long as the Sacraments play the chief part in the Church, the priest will be a man of power on earth, and as long as the letter of scripture is regarded as the law of Christ, the official interpreters will be the ruling authorities in the Church) it is equally certain that the Wyclifite conception of the Church represented a great advance. The attempt was here made to separate the religious from the secular; moreover, the value of the law of Christ, as something spiritual, was placed on a level with the value of the Sacraments, nay, the efficacy of all ecclesiastical acts was derived from inward Christian disposition; the whole “objective” right of a hierarchy in the Church was shaken;245245The Council of Constance contested the Wyclifite-Hussite propositions that were adverse to the Pope, as also the exclusive definition of the Church as universitas prædestinatorum. Christians were most urgently reminded that the gospel has to do with life. And this did not take place outside theology, as if these were personally-formed notions, but on the ground and in the name of the truly ecclesiastical theology.
About the year 1500 Hussitism, as a great movement, had run its course. But it exerted an incalculable influence: it loosened the hold of the hierarchical papal conception of the Church on the hearts and minds of men, and helped to prepare the way for the great revolution. No doubt at the beginning of the Reformation the greatest vagueness of view prevailed among the really pious in the land: there was no wish to part with the Pope, but episcopalist (conciliar) and 148Waldensian-Hussite ideas were widely disseminated.246246Besides the works on the history of the spread of Hussitism (especially von Bezold, Zur Gesch. des Husitenthums 1874, and the Studies of Haupt), see the works of Keller, which, however, must be used with caution. A distinct settlement was necessary: either the establishment of the papal system, or a new view of the Church that should be able to furnish a firm basis for the numerous and heavy assaults upon that system. The empirico-monarchical conception of the Church was challenged by the Episcopalists, the juristic by Wyclif and Huss — in this lies the chief importance of these men. But for the juristic conception they substituted a moralistic. From the latter the former will always develop itself again. What was lacking was the conception of a Church to which one belongs through living faith. The mere criticising of the hierarchy, however much courage that might imply, was not all that was needed. Nor was it enough that the legal ordinances of the Church should be traced back to their moral conditions. For having done this Wyclif and Huss cannot be too highly praised. But it must not be forgotten that the Church of Christ has to take the criteria for judging what she is from Romans V.-VIII. One thing, however, and for our purposes the most important, will be made apparent from this whole review, namely, that the manifold development of the conception of the Church in this period, so far from threatening the old dogma, gave it an always firmer lodgment — not, indeed, as a living authority, but as a basis and boundary line. Where would the Waldensians and the Hussites, with their appeals to the lex Christi, to Scripture and the Apocalypse, have arrived at, if they had not been held fast by the quiet but powerful force of the ancient dogma?
But at this point we may extend our observations still a step further. Is it the case, then, that the so-called “Reformers before the Reformation” were the only reformers before the Reformation, or is it not apparent rather that this designation has only a proper meaning when it is applied, not to any one phenomenon in the Medieval Church, but to the Mediæval Church as a whole? For the highest level of observation, there lies between the Christianity of the Ancient Church and the 149Christianity of the Reformation, the Christianity of the Middle Ages as the intermediate stage, i.e., as the Pre-Reformation. None of its leading tendencies can be dispensed with in the picture, not even the hierarchical. The very conception of the Church shows that. For those opposing the “Pre-Reformers” represented with their Church ideal the certainty that Christ has left behind Him on earth a kingdom, in which He, as the exalted One, is present, and the holiness of which does not depend on the moral goodness of its members, but on the grace which God gives them. This thought they no doubt disfigured and secularised, yet it must not be said that it had value for them only in its disfigured form. No, even it was for many really an expression of Christian piety. They thought of the living and reigning Christ when they thought of the Pope and his power, of the bishops and the Church, who reduced the whole world to their rule. In this form their faith was a necessary complement to the individualistic Christianity of the Mystics, and the Reformation with its thesis of the holy community and the kingdom of God, which have Christ in their midst, connected itself directly with the Catholic thoughts of Augustine and the Middle Ages, after it had learned from Paul and Augustine to judge spiritual things spiritually.
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