Front Page Titles (by Subject) Lord Acton on Paper respecting Authority - Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone)
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Lord Acton on Paper respecting Authority - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) 
Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, edited with and Introduction by John Neville Figgis and Renald Vere Laurence. Vol. I Correspondence with Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone and Others (London: Longmans, Gree and Co., 1917).
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Lord Acton on Paper respecting Authority1
Thomas’s Hotel,Berkeley Square,
(36) You say without qualification that Lewis proceeded to show that the rule of Vincent is inapplicable. It does not appear that you lay stress on the word literal application—you are too indulgent to an argument which is very far from strong, and comes from a man who never grasped the notion of continuity and fancies that all reformed Churches reject it. Lewis’s statement both of Catholic and Protestant doctrine is so hazy that your indulgence towards him goes much farther than he deserves.
In stating his 3 conclusions (36) you draw a distinction to the disadvantage of the 3rd, but none to the advantage of the first. But the consensus of antiquity that supports Theism adds something to the force of conclusion 1.
(37) The paragraph where you allude to this—“Regarded historically, etc.”—might, I fancy, be stronger or clearer. The Revelations which preceded Christianity are made to supply Christianity with a special treasure. One might object that it was, on that account, not their special treasure; or at least that the word therefore is not quite explained by what goes before it.
Touching Pecock2 : the word Sacramentum was used in mediæval divinity in a much wider sense than now. Hugo Victorinus, for instance, uses it in the title of a book which does not deal with Sacraments in our sense. In the 12th century the number 7 was reached by a process of restriction as much as by a process of increase, in another sense. Also, 2 and 7 are not the only alternatives admitted by modern divines.
(38) In spite of your Caveat, I think you incline to underrate the value and elevation of pre-Christian Ethics. The image of the downward course of paganism is so much more strongly impressed on your mind than that of its upward course, that I fancy you hardly appreciate such an achievement as the Ethics of Seneca, Epictetus, and, from another quarter, Philo, wrought by men who had not the example of Christ’s life before them.
From that point of view I suspect that your argument that a religion is tested by its effects on morality, might give rise to much controversy. If by morality you mean the lives of men, modern society has not much to boast of, compared, for instance, with the practical morality of the Essenes. If you mean the doctrines of men, it would be very difficult indeed to show that the interval between the Ethics of Seneca and the Ethics of S. Ambrose could never have been bridged over by the progress and combination of Stoic, Alexandrian, and Chinese morality, as they stood, apart from the Gospel.
An opponent might say that many influences besides Christ’s teaching contribute to the moral enlightenment of the present world; that Christianity at first, in its outward purity, in its early writers, stood less high in some points than we do, and was not all progress over that which went before it; and that, taking the action of the Church, at times, apart from other influences, it has not always promoted a lofty ideal of duty.
(41) In Newman’s account of his life there is a passage vigorously and aptly confirming what you say about the duty of remaining where one is.
[1 ] Gladstone wrote an article on “The Influence of Authority in Matters of Opinion” in the Nineteenth Century, March 1877.
[2 ]Pecock, Reginald (1395-1460), Bishop of Chichester, author of The Repressor of overmuch blaming of the Clergy.