by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.
"All the world knows that Catholics hold that the Apostles made over the Divine Revelation to the generation after them, not only in writing, but by word of mouth, and in the ritual of the Church. We consider that the New Testament is not the whole of what they left us; that they left us a number of doctrines, not in writing at all, but living in the minds and mouths of the faithful; Protestants deny this. They have a right to deny it; but they have no right to assume their denial to be true without proof, and to use it as self-evident, and to triumph over us as beaten, merely because we will not admit it. Yet this they actually do; can anything be more preposterous? however, they do this as innocently and naturally as if it were the most logical of processes, and the fairest and most unexceptionable of proceedings. For instance there was a country gentleman in this neighbourhood in the course of last year, who, having made some essays in theology among his tenantry in his walks over his estate, challenged me to prove some point, I am not clear what, but I think it was the infallibility of the Holy See, or of the Church. Were my time my own, I should never shrink from any controversy, having the experience of twenty years, that the more Catholicism and its doctrines are sifted, the more distinct and luminous will its truth ever come out into view; and in the instance in question I did not decline the invitation. However, it soon turned out that it was a new idea to the gentleman in question, that I was not bound to prove the point in debate simply by Scripture; he considered that Scripture was to be the sole basis of the discussion. This was quite another thing. For myself, I firmly believe that in Scripture the Catholic doctrine on the subject is contained; but had I accepted this gratuitous and officious proposition, you see I should have been simply recognising a Protestant principle, which I disown. He would not controvert with me at all, unless I subscribed to a doctrine which I believe to be, not only a dangerous, but an absurd error; and, because I would not allow him to assume what it was his business to prove, before he brought it forward, and because I challenged him to prove that Scripture was, as he assumed, the Rule of Faith, he turned away as happy and self-satisfied as if he had gained a victory. That all truth is contained in Scripture was his first principle; he thought none but an idiot could doubt it; none but a Jesuit could deny it; he thought it axiomatic; he thought that to offer proof was even a profanation of so self-evident a point, and that to demand it was a reductio ad absurdum of the person demanding;—but this, I repeat, was no extraordinary instance of Protestant argumentation; it occurs every other day."