Imatges de pÓgina
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question; conscious that, without such rule to guide me, I must be liable, from the very character of mind, to fall into misconceptions and error?"

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6. "I now turn to those scriptures, and, perusing them with respectful caution, I find that, in giving his last instructions to his apostles, Christ bids them Go and teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded; and he promises to be with them all days even to the end of the world. (Matt. xxviii.) In the gospel of St Mark, c. xvi. I find the same injunction repeated, with the threat that he who believeth not the gospel which shall be preached to every creature, shall be condemned."

7. "This is the ordinance or rule which I sought: and by it, I plainly see, two things are established: first an authority which is to point out to me, by teaching, what I am to believe; and secondly a duty-if I will be saved-of listening to and obeying that authority."

8. "But I cannot discover that any command is given-of committing to writing what our Saviour had taught, nor any reference made to books that might be written: Go and teach-is the simple mandate: and as during the lives of the apostles there was no written word that could be a rule, under what new injunction is the rule of teaching set aside, and that of scripture-interpretation substituted?"

9. "The authority then of which I speak, was first lodged with the apostles to whom it was directly committed; but as they, in a few years, would be called away from their labors, and Christ promised that he would be with them to the end of the world, must not this promise include them and their successors in the ministry of the gospel?"

10. Should it be restricted to the few years of the lives of the apostles, would Heaven, I humbly ask, have sufficiently provided for the perpetuity of that faith, the foundations of which had been laid at such a vast expence of supernatural means?"

11. In the successors, then, of the apostles, I conclude, was to be lodged-when they were gone-the same authority of teaching; and to the faithful was to descend-under the same menace of condemnation-the duty of receiving what they should be thus taught."

12. Still, this being allowed me, must it not be provedin order to ascertain the genuine character of these teachers— 'that the line of their succession from the apostles, during eighteen hundred years, has not been broken; and moreover, that nothing at any time has been added to, or taken from that deposit of sacred truths, which was originally committed to the apostles ?"

13. "Doubtless, this must be proved :-First, then, I look to the promise of Christ-that he would be with the pastors of

his church to the end of the world.-Secondly, I turn to the annals of history, in which is recorded the succession of those pastors the object of my research-and I particularly select the succession of the bishops of Rome.-Thirdly, I institute a similar enquiry through a similar research, on the points of belief."

14. The result of this investigation is-That a line of succession in that church may be traced distinctly and incontrovertibly; and that whether I take the whole code of belief, orwhich is more easily accomplished-select any one article; state it as it is now publicly taught; and pursue it through the popular books of instruction, and the writings of those who, in every age, have recorded its doctrine-I am, invariably, brought to one conclusion,-that the catholic belief of the nineteenth century, in no part differs from the belief of the early ages, that is, from the belief of the apostles."

15. "Here I rest in perfect security my reason has led me to a guide, and to that guide I submit my judgment, on all those points which it has pleased God to reveal, and his church proposes to my belief. I have said; why I am a catholic."

"But let it not be imagined that, because the catholic bows in humble submission to the voice of the teaching authority, on such points, and so far, as Christ has commanded,—that his liberty, on other subjects, is abridged, or that, on such subjects, he is not as free to reason, to discuss, to receive, or to reject, as the freest man can wish. So it was of old: Of every tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat, said the Lord to Adam: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. (Gen. ii.) Here was a restriction; and shall the descendants of Adam think it much to be restrained-where the utmost licence of thought could lead them to no certain knowledge? When our first parents did eat, we know who told them, that their eyes should be opened, and that they should be as Gods, knowing good and evil. I was not aware, that the exercise of private judgment had been so early recommended."

Under what misconception, now, has it been made a subject of reproach to catholics, that the use of reason is forbidden to them? I have led the reader through a series of investigation, composed of fifteen members; which investigation, it is plain, to be completed must be carried on to a much greater length. And every catholic, whose circumstances will allow it and whose capacity will bear him through, is invited to pursue a similar enquiry; from which the avenues to his faith will be best secured, and himself be always ready to satisfy every one "that asketh a reason of that hope which is in him."

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Secondly. Much has been written on the use to be made of the fathers, and on their authority in deciding controverted

points of doctrine. Their use regards, chiefly,-their testimony; and may be considered as limited to their being witnesses to the doctrines which they had received.-What their characters may be as writers on general subjects, or what their style of composition, is foreign from my plan to consider.-I observe, when they speak of points of essential belief, that they uniformly hold the same language-the language of St Paul-declaring that—what they received that they deliver. They give nothing new; speak of nothing new but error; and, to every attempt at innovation they as uniformly profess themselves hostile."

"The testimony, then, of these personages-not conspiring to the maintenance of any preconcerted system; often separated by distance of space and time; not speaking the same languagesome being Greeks and others Latins-is irresistible. It is not their reputation for piety, for candour, nor for orthodoxy, that carries conviction to the mind of the reader-for the testimony of Tertullian, when a Montanist, to the fact of his having received such doctrines, is little less than before his defection-but the simple circumstance of united testimony."

In the second and third centuries the authorities are less numerous, from the obvious reason that fewer works on religion were then written; or that-which to us is much the samefewer have come down to our times. But it has often excited my surprise, that all our doctrines can even from them be so distinctly traced--when no opposition to their truth called for any direct testimony. On these occasions, however, that is, before the subtlety of error made it necessary to be more accurate, it was very natural, that teachers of the people and writers should be more loose and unguarded in their expressions. And so it was. St Jerom, I recollect, remarks-speaking of some fathers who wrote before the Arian controversy-that their words might not have been always accurate; and the same apology on other subjects has been made for Lactantius and other writers. They spoke without fear of being misunderstood; using such phrases as were in common use. But when that heresy and those arising from it-the errors of Nestorius and Eutyches--had made it necessary to adopt a language of more precision, writers of inferior talents and acquirements became more guarded and more correct."

"A man, of common candour, being aware of this, will know how to judge as he investigates the opinions of those early days. Before any controversy had arisen on a particular point of doctrine, he will not look for the same precision as after Arius and Nestorius had caused litigation; and he will be disposed to make allowances for the case."

"It may be expected" continues Mr Berington, "that I shall claim this allowance on the subject of Christ's presence in the eucharist; a point which, during the centuries of which I

am speaking, had experienced no contradiction: but I shall not; -with such fulness and decision is the doctrine every where announced. Still, I will not deny, that a captious controvertist may, on this and other points, extract some few passages, not always so full and explicit,-which he may think himself at liberty to make use of, should the candour of his mind not incline him to compare passage with passage; to explain what may seem ambiguous or loosely worded, by what is clear and precise; and finally to decide-not from detached clauses but from the united evidence of those who, during the period of the century, wrote incidentally or purposely on the subject."

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Having mentioned the subject of the real presence, and observed-how full and decisive on it are the sentiments of the early fathers, I may be allowed, perhaps, to introduce the analogous declaration of the great innovator, Luther. He is defending his own opinion against those who-making use of the liberty which he had promulgated of expounding the scriptures by their own judgment-denied the real or corporeal presence." "That no one among the fathers," he says, they are, should have spoken of the eucharist as these men do, is truly astonishing. Not one of them speaks thus: There is only bread and wine; or-the body and blood of Christ are not present. And when we reflect how often the subject is treated and repeated by them, it ceases to be credible-it is not even possible—that, not so much as once, such words as these should have dropt from some of them. Surely, it was of moment that men should not be drawn into error. Still, they all speak with such precision, evincing that they entertained no doubt of the presence of the body and blood! Had not this been their conviction, can it be imagined that, among so many, the negative opinion should not have been uttered on a single occasion? On other points this was not the case. But our Sacramentarians, on the other hand, can proclaim only the negative or contrary opinion. These men, then, to say all in one word, have drawn their notions, neither from the scriptures, nor the fathers."-Defensio Verborum Cana, T. viii. p. 391. Edit. Witenberga, 1557.

"These authorities so chained his mind, that no effort could release him. He blushes not to add: This I cannot nor am I willing to deny, that had any one, five years ago, been able to persuade me, that in the sacrament were only bread and wine, he would have laid me under great obligations to him. In the discussion of this point, studiously anxious, I laboured much : every nerve was stretched to extricate myself, if possible; for I was clearly sensible, that nothing would have given so much pain to the Roman bishop."-Ibid. p. 502. What will our friend Peter Plymley say to this? For more upon the subject I would

refer him to the article BERENGARIUS.

Mr Berington proceeds: "This extraordinary man (Luther) could shew some respect for the fathers, when their opinions served to strengthen his own; but when they differed, all respect ceased. Our Henry the VIII. had entered the lists with him, in defence of the sacrifice of the mass; the friar replied: To establish this sacrifice Henry has recourse at last to the words of the fathers.-Heaven well knows, that I care not if a thousand Austins, a thousand Cyprians, or a thousand others like them were against me. God cannot err and deceive; Austin and Cyprian, and all the vessels of election, might, and did err.” -Contra Regem. Angl. T. ii. p. 334.

"This may pass with Luther: but the more humble man will ask-If the testimony of the fathers may be disregarded-by what other means shall that chain of evidence be supported, which, through the lapse of ages, unites, and has united, the successive generations of believers, in one faith-with Christ and his apostles? I adduce therefore with pleasure the testimony of two divines of the established church, whose least praise it was, that they professed themselves the disciples of this arrogant and inconsistent reformer."

"Dr Cave thus speaks: "In this are all protestant divines, with few exceptions, agreed-that the scripture is the first and only infallible rule of faith and morals: and that the next place is due to the fathers, as far as they accord with, and approve and confirm by their testimony, the truth contained in the scripture. We revere the fathers; not indeed as judges of the faith, but as witnesses, who deliver to us with fidelity what was, in every age, done and believed. They hand down to us the sacred deposite of faith; and clearly point out what, and when, heresies arose, and the article of faith which they opposed. The more ancient those witnesses, the stronger is their testimony, and our reliance on them the more firm. Thus did those champions of old, Tertullian, Augustine and others, proceed in their defence of the christian religion-unceasingly appealing to their forefathers ;—and among them no one has treated this argument more successfully than Vincent of Lerins, in his Commonitorium against heretics."-Ep. Apolog. in append. T. ii. Hist. Lit. p. 68. Oxonii,

1743.

"The same is the language of Dr Mills, in his dedication of the works of St Cyril of Jerusalem to the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery: " Although you do not allow, that the authority of the fathers is sufficiently strong to establish a new dogma of faith; yet it is usual with you to adduce them as witnesses of the faith once delivered to the saints, and as most faithful interpreters of the word of God. For since the many controversies, with which the church in our days is harassed, have arisen from the contending parties not admitting any certain rule whereby to interpret the scripture-different authors drawing

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