Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
of Apostles and martyrs.  We know something about St. Peter and St. Paul.  We know them at any rate from their writings.  In M. Renan’s representation they stand opposed to one another as leaders of factions, to whose fierce hatreds and jealousies there is nothing comparable.  “All the differences,” he is reported to say, “which divide orthodox folks, heretics, schismatics, in our own day, are as nothing compared with the dissension between Peter and Paul.”  It is, as every one knows, no new story; but there it is in M. Renan in all its crudity, as if it were the most manifest and accredited of truths.  M. Renan first brings St. Paul to Rome.  “It was,” he says, “a great event in the world’s history, almost as pregnant with consequences as his conversion.”  How it was so M. Renan does not explain; but he brings St. Peter to Rome also, “following at the heels of St. Paul,” to counteract and neutralise his influence.  And who is this St. Peter?  He represents the Jewish element; and what that element was at Rome M. Renan takes great pains to put before us.  He draws an elaborate picture of the Jews and Jewish quarter of Rome—­a “longshore population” of beggars and pedlars, with a Ghetto resembling the Alsatia of The Fortunes of Nigel, seething with dirt and fanaticism.  These were St. Peter’s congeners at Rome, whose ideas and claims, “timid trimmer” though he was, he came to Rome to support against the Hellenism and Protestantism of St. Paul.  And at Rome they, both of them, probably, perished in Nero’s persecution, and that is the history of the success of Christianity.  “Only fanatics can found anything.  Judaism lives on because of the intense frenzy of its prophets and annalists, Christianity by means of its martyrs.”

But a certain Clement arose after their deaths, to arrange a reconciliation between the fiercely antagonistic factions of St. Peter and St. Paul.  How he harmonised them M. Renan leaves us to imagine; but he did reconcile them; he gathered in his own person the authority of the Roman Church; he lectured the Corinthian Church on its turbulence and insubordination; he anticipated, M. Renan remarked, almost in words, the famous saying of the French Archbishop of Rouen, “My clergy are my regiment, and they are drilled to obey like a regiment.”  On this showing, Clement might almost be described as the real founder of Christianity, of which neither St. Peter nor St. Paul, with their violent oppositions, can claim to be the complete representative; at any rate he was the first Pope, complete in all his attributes.  And in accordance with this beginning M. Renan sees in the Roman Church, first, the centre in which Church authority grew up, and next, the capital of Catholicism.  In Rome the congregation gave up its rights to its elders, and these rights the elders surrendered to the single ruler or Bishop.  The creation of the Episcopate was eminently the work of Rome; and this Bishop of Rome caught the full spirit of the Caesar, on whose decay he became great; and troubling himself little about the deep questions which exercised the minds and wrung the hearts of thinkers and mystics, he made himself the foundation of order, authority, and subordination to all parts of the Imperial world.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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