Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/31

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

impossible; and even, as we say, the very word Canon, the Canon of Scripture, points to such a use.

But, indeed, there is hardly any great thing perverted by men, which does not in some sort thus indicate its own perversion. The idea of the infallible Church Catholic itself, as I have elsewhere said,[1] is an idea the most fatal of all possible ideas to the concrete, so-called infallible Church of Rome, such as we now see it. The infallible Church Catholic is, really, the prophetic soul of the wide world dreaming of things to come; the whole human race, in its onward progress, discovering truth more complete than the parcel of truth any momentary individual can seize. Nay, and it is with the Pope himself as with the Church Catholic That amiable old pessimist in St. Peter's Chair,[2] whose allocutions we read and call them impotent and vain,—the Pope himself is, in his idea, the very Time-Spirit taking flesh, the incarnate 'Zeit-Geist.' O man, how true are thine instincts, how over-hasty thine interpretations of them!

But to return. Difficult, certainly, is the right reading of the Bible, and true culture, too, is difficult. For true culture implies not only knowledge, but right tact and justness of judgment, forming themselves by and with knowledge; without this tact, it is not true culture. Difficult, however, as true culture is, it is necessary. For, after all, the Bible is not a talisman, to be taken and used literally; neither is any existing Church a talisman, whatever pretensions of the sort it may make, for giving the right interpre-

  1. St. Paul and Protestantism, p. 156.
  2. Pope Pius the Ninth.