promisee, the debasement of the noblest ideals, are among the commonplaces of history. Christianity cannot be maintained without ample admissions of failure and perversion. But it is one thing to make this admission for Christianity generally, an admission which the New Testament in foretelling its fortunes gives us abundant ground for making; and quite another for those who maintain the superiority of one form of Christianity above all others, to claim that they may leave out of the account its characteristic faults. It is quite true that all sides abundantly need to appeal for considerate judgment to the known infirmity of human nature; but amid the conflicting pretensions which divide Christendom no one side can ask to have for itself the exclusive advantage of this plea. All may claim the benefit of it, but if it is denied to any it must be denied to all. In this confused and imperfect world other great popular systems of religion besides the Roman may use it in behalf of shortcomings, which, though perhaps very different, are yet not worse. It is obvious that the theory of great and living ideas, working with a double edge, and working for mischief at last, holds good for other things besides the special instance on which Dr. Newman comments. It is to be further observed that to claim the benefit of this plea is to make the admission that you come under the common law of human nature as to mistake, perversion, and miscarriage, and this in the matter of religious guidance the Roman theory refuses to do. It claims for its communion as its special privilege an exemption from those causes of corruption of which history is the inexorable witness, and to which others admit themselves to be liable; an immunity from going wrong, a supernatural exception from the common tendency of mankind to be led astray, from the common necessity to correct and reform themselves when they are proved wrong. How far this is realised, not on paper and in argument, but in fact, is indeed one of the most important questions for the world, and it is one to which the world will pay more heed than to the best writing about it There are not wanting signs, among others of a very different character, of an honest and philosophical recognition of this by some of the ablest writers of the Roman communion. The day on which the Roman Church ceases to maintain that what it holds must be truth because it holds it, and admits itself subject to the common condition by which God has given truth to men, will be the first hopeful day for the reunion of Christendom.
NEWMAN’S PAROCHIAL SERMONS