Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/294

This page needs to be proofread.


The Council could have joined with this same Dante in proclaim- ing, *Te have the Old and the New Testament, and also the Shepherd of the Church to lead ye; and surely these should suffice unto your salvation."

This development, or possibly rather this making plain, of the Church's teaching is effected by. the collaboration of God and man in the movement of history. Error, heresy too, become (as St. Paul said) something that spurs truth into manifesting itself. There are no new dogmas; there are merely new definitions. The Word of revelation makes use of the thought, the conscience and the inner lives of men rich in grace. But the definition of teaching is not arrived at, as it were, by volcanic eruption, but is the result of long effort presided over and scrutinized by sovereign authority. The new is measured by the stable, the living by the traditional, the intuition of a pious soul by the old rule, the personally experienced by common sense, and the right of the manifold by the logic of unity. Thus the Roman Church lives between the immobile stability of the Eastern Churches and the anarchy of opinion that characterizes modern Protestantism* Boundary, dam, support, form, permanent value, the rights of history, the binding authority of what is reasonable and tested by experience, legitimacy, authoritativeness all these are Catholic ideas employed in the battle against the borderless, the shoreless, the moving for movement's sake, the radically doubting mind of Descartes, the arbi- trary, the independence of the individual, the "God in the human breast," and everything else that constitutes a definition of modernity.

The Catholic world could not ignore the fact that times had changed. It saw great entities arise owing their origin to heresy. The Church could not surrender to the new spirit, because she could not believe in this chaos even though it bore splendid fruit, and be- cause she had also seen the splendid fruit of order. Nevertheless for a thousand reasons she dared not fail the new world. To look at the cosmos from the human point of view alone, to leave God out of the picture at least hypothetically this became the great temptation even for believing mankind. The certitude of mysticism, which the sixteenth century had brought forth in Catholic life, could not become everybody's certitude. Doubtless men would wish to believe every- thing they had believed before, if the science of those who delved and