« PoprzedniaDalej »
tive unwritten system of which we yet enjoy the benefit. If any one ask, how we ascertain them, we answer, by the application of the wellknown rule, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus." (Keble's Serm. p. 32.) "Without its aid [i. e. primitive tradition'] humanly speaking, I do not see how we could now retain either real inward communion with our Lord through his Apostles, or the very outward face of God's Church and kingdom among us. Not to dwell on disputable cases, how but by the tradition and practice of the early Church can we demonstrate the observance of Sunday as the holiest day, or the permanent separation of the clergy from the people as a distinct order? Or where, except in the primitive liturgies, a main branch of that tradition, can we find assurance, that in the Holy Eucharist, we consecrate as the Apostles did, and consequently, that the cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break the communion of the body of Christ." (Ib. p. 38.) "The points of Catholic consent, known by tradition, constitute the knots and ties of the whole system; being such as these: the canon of Scripture, the full doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, the oblation and consecration of the Eucharist, the Apostolical succession." (Ib. pp. 41, 2.) "To which, perhaps, it might have been well to add the doctrine of baptismal regeneration." (Ib. p. 75.) How else could we know, with tolerable certainty, that Melchizedek's feast is a type of the blessed eucharist? or that the book of Canticles is an allegory, representing the mystical union betwixt Christ and his Church? or that Wisdom, in the Book of Proverbs, is a name of the Second Person in the Most Holy Trinity? All which interpretations, the moment they are heard, approve themselves to an unprejudiced mind." (Ib. p. 36.) To which he adds (p. 78) the doctrine "that consecration by Apostolical authority is essential to the participation of the Eucharist," which he thinks was "universally received in the primitive Church," and may be accepted by us on the evidence of a passage in Ignatius, even if it could not be "at all proved from Scripture," which, however, he thinks it may, "in a great measure, to the satisfaction of unprejudiced minds."
To these may be added the following, from the 85th of the "Tracts for the Times." "Even though Scripture be considered to be altogether silent as to the intermediate state, and to pass from the mention of death to that of the judgment, there is nothing in this circumstance to disprove the Church's doctrine (if there be other grounds for it), that there is an intermediate state, and that it is important, that in it the souls of the faithful are purified, and grow in grace, that they pray for us, and that our prayers benefit them." (p. 48.) This doctrine, therefore,
the author of the tract would evidently class among those which we are now considering, either as one about which Scripture spoke indistinctly and obscurely, or might be considered by some as altogether silent. And we may observe from this passage, that there are, in the view of our opponents, important Church doctrines, about which, if Scripture "be considered to be altogether silent," it matters not. There are "other grounds" of proof in patristical tradition. And if patristical tradition be what our opponents represent it to be, it is sufficient for the proof of such doctrines. And so speaks the author of Tract 79, entitled, "On Purgatory." "It can only," he says, "be an article of faith, supposing it is held by antiquity, and that unanimously. For such things only are we allowed to maintain as come to us from the Apostles; and that only, ordinarily speaking, has evidence of so originating, which is witnessed by a number of independent witnesses in the early Church. We must have the unanimous consent of Doctors as an assurance that the Apostles have spoken." (p. 25.) And they are only consistent in making these statements, that is, consistent as far as their system is concerned, not with themselves, because out of regard,
suppose, to the prejudices of Protestants, they every now and then introduced statements of a very different complexion. I do not, of course, mean with any intention to mislead, but their position involuntary leads them to do so. They are committed to two opposite systems. Having embraced the great principles upon which Popery is founded, though perhaps not quite satisfied with the whole superstructure which Rome has built upon them, while, partly from personal attachment, and partly from dislike of some parts of Romanism, they remain members of the Church of England, and are consequently obliged to explain their tenets so as to make them apppear consistent with the authorized documents of our Church, they are continually uttering contradictory
The cases here enumerated (which I need hardly say are precisely the examples adduced by the Romanists) are of various
1 In the same tract, pp. 9 & seq., the author enumerates various ordinances and doctrines about which "little is said in Scripture," in order to meet a supposed argument that little is said there as to some of their favourite notions, and he accordingly mentions various points as either not taught in so many words in Scripture, or having only so many texts relating to them. This list I do not notice here, because it is beside the question as far as our arguments are concerned. We do not ask whether every doctrine is taught in so many words in Scripture, but whether virtually it is clearly there, nor how many texts support a doctrine, but whether the doctrine is clearly in those texts. And when he asks us," what doctrines would be left to us if we demanded the clearest and fullest evidence," (p. 12.) we reply, all those which either follow immediately by just and necessary inference from Scripture, or are supported by even one clear passage of Scripture.
kinds, and not all to be met in the same way. Some of them rest, or are supposed to rest, on Scripture and tradition together, others on tradition alone; though there is by no means a universal agreement in the classification of them in this respect, some writers referring to Scripture and tradition together what others make to rest on tradition alone. Moreover, some of these doctrines we reject, others, as dependent on tradition only, we look upon as uncertain, and not to be authoritatively propounded as of divine revelation or obligation. For others we want nothing but Scripture, though we may appeal to the writings of the Fa thers in confirmation of the correctness of our deductions, and in matters relating to the practice of the Church with respect to facts and practices of which the senses of the writers were cognizant, we may use those writings as conclusive evidence that they took place in the Church in their times. And further, as to the subject matter of these examples, they are of diverse kinds, referring partly and principally to points relating to the practice of the Church, that is, ecclesiastical ordinances, rites, and usages, partly also to points purely doctrinal, and partly to points which concern matters of fact and things somewhat different to both the former. In our consideration of them we shall classify them according to this last arrangement.
Of points relating to the practice of the Church, then, we find the following.
Relating to points disused,
(1) The non-literal acceptation of our Lord's words respecting washing one another's feet."
(2) The non-observance of the seventh day as a day of religious rest.
Relating to ordinances and observances in use among us,-(1) Infant baptism.
(2) The sanctification of the first day of the week.
(3) The perpetual obligation of the Eucharist.
(4) The identity of our mode of consecration in the Eucharist with the Apostolical.
(5) That consecration by Apostolical authority is essential to the participation of the Eucharist.
(6) The separation of the clergy from the people as a distinct order.
(7) The threefold order of the priesthood.
(8) The Government of the Church by Bishops.
(9) The Apostolical succession.
Of points purely doctrinal,—
(1) Baptismal regeneration.
(2) The virtue of the Eucharist as a commemorative sacrifice.
(3) That there is an intermediate state, in which the souls of the faithful are purified, and grow in grace; that they pray for us, and that our prayers benefit them.
Of points concerning matters of fact, and things that do not immediately belong either to the doctrines or rites of Christianity,
(1) The Canon of Scripture.
(2) That Melchizedek's feast is a type of the Eucharist. (3) That the Book of Canticles represents the union between Christ and his Church.
(4) That Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs refers to the Second Person of the Trinity.
(5) The alleged perpetual virginity of the Mother of our Lord.
To the doctrines above mentioned Romanists add, among others, the doctrine of Christ's descent into hell, and that of the validity of baptism administered by heretics.
It is impossible not to see that, among all these points, the stress is laid upon those that concern the government and the sacraments of the Church; and our opponents being persuaded that patristical tradition delivers their system on these points, (and it would be wonderful if in all the volumes of the Fathers they could not find some passages in favour of a system so zealously patronized by those in whose hands these works were for centuries deposited, and through whom they have come down to us, though we deny that it is to be found there upon any full and consentient testimony,) are very anxious that this tradition should be recognized as a divine informant; and in the zealous prosecution of this enterprize, are desirous further of impressing it upon our minds, that almost all the other points relating either to doctrine or practice, yea even the fundamentals of the faith, must stand or fall according as this recognition takes place or not.
Let us first consider the points relating to the practice of the Church; and before we proceed to consider them individually, we would premise a few general remarks as to the principles which guide us in the consideration of such cases.
In the first place it must be remembered, that we are far from maintaining here, with the early Puritans, that all the rites and usages of the Church must have Scripture authority, so that no Church can appoint and require from her members an observance of any rites or ceremonies but what are ordained in Scripture; but we assert this only of points for which is claimed the authority of divine revelation, or the obligation of a divine or apostolical precept, binding Churches as well as individuals.
In the second place, though we deny that the testimony of a few Fathers can be taken as such sufficient evidence of the doc
trine orally taught by the Apostles, or the universal Church, in matters of faith or practice, as to be considered a divine informant supplementary to Scripture, we do not deny, but on the contrary maintain, that the testimony of the early Fathers respecting facts and practices of which their senses were cognizant, is sufficient to assure us that such facts and practices took place in their time in the primitive Church, just as we might receive the testimony of our opponents as quite sufficient respecting facts and practices of our Church, of which their senses had been cognizant, while we took leave altogether to deny its sufficiency as a witness of the doctrines of our Church.
And, thirdly, we maintain that the usage of the primitive orthodox Church from Apostolical times (as far as it can be ascer tained) may justly be taken as a guide to show us how rites and practices enjoined in Scripture are to be carried into effect; and also as a guide to a certain extent in its general rites and practices, that is, so far as to recommend them to our attention, and perhaps to justify modern Churches in following them, inasmuch as it is not probable that, from the very first, the orthodox Church should have adopted a superstitious or improper usage. It is on this ground that our Church defends her use of the sign of the cross, as-not necessary, but-justifiable. And, consequently, we receive with respect the traditions of the primitive Church on such points," meaning by traditions," as Hooker says, "ordinances made in the prime of Christian religion, established with that authority which Christ hath left to his Church for matters indifferent, and in that consideration requisite to be observed till like authority see just and reasonable cause to alter them. So that traditions ecclesiastical are not rudely and in gross to be shaken off, because the inventors of them were
And thus, as it respects rites and usages, the practice of the primitive Church, ascertained to us by the testimony of its writings, may be a useful guide to us, both where Scripture is silent, and where it does not enter so fully into particulars as to show how the rites and ceremonies mentioned in it are to be carried out in all cases.
But we maintain, with our Church, that those rites and ordinances only are essentially binding upon all Churches and individuals that are required by Scripture authority; because no others can be proved to have been established by the Apostles; and we shall show hereafter, that all the moderns who profess to hold a contrary opinion are convicted by their own conduct of inconsistency; for they who maintain, that a few patristical as