Imatges de pÓgina
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from the same words different, and absolutely contrary meanings -these contentions would be happily terminated, if that which was held by the church at all times, and in all or most places, were on both sides admitted as true, certain and indispensable.— And I myself have heard you reject--not without indignationthe scriptural interpretations adduced by the Arians and Socinians, for no other reason, than because they are most remote from the sense of the fathers."

"It is proper to add, that many of these fathers, to whose testimony we have recourse, were themselves bishops of the churches which the apostles had founded; to which churches an appeal was always made against the heretics, in favour of the true doctrine. "What the apostles taught," observes Tertullian, "that is, what Christ revealed to them, may best be learned from those churches which the apostles founded." He then adds: "all doctrine that agrees with the faith of those original and mother churches, is to be deemed true: all other is false; not coming from the apostles, nor from Christ, nor from God." This he repeats; and the same-as will be remarked in the perusal of this book-is repeated by others. If then the authority of these churches be such; such also, must be the authority of their teachers; not only when they preached the doctrine which they had received, and their churches preserved; but likewise, when they committed the same to writing, and attested its truth."

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Thirdly. The voice of general councils, in our opinion, is most decisive. They form, in a certain sense, the representative body of the universal church. Yet councils, whether general, or national, or provincial, proceed on the common principle that guides individually the pastors of the church. Having enquired on the controverted point that has assembled them together, by turning to the annals of former times-what was then taught, as confirmed by the scriptures and the testimony of the fathers; and having declared what they themselves-the pastors of the faithful and the guardians of the deposite of faith-have received; they pronounce that to be error, which is not conformable to the truth thus authenticated; and by a new definition, if judged nere-confirm this truth. To remove ambiguity, it may cessary, sometimes appear expedient to adopt a new term; as was done at Nice when the word Consubstantial against the error of Arius was received into the Creed. But nothing new in the doctrine is thereby announced; a more explicit profession alone is brought forward, or, as it has been well expressed, " in consequence of the sophistries of error, a clearness and accuracy are adopted, which the contested articles while uncontested did not stand in need of."

"In councils then, is a greater solemnity, when the pastors of the church with united voice proclaim-what is the doctrine that hath been transmitted to them. This they did in the first gene

rál synod, held at Nice against the errors of Arius; and the same process was followed at Trent at a much more recent period when the innovating spirit of the times called for a like interference. But-let me repeat it-the same principle, on all points of faith, directs the proceedings of councils, that is the guide to each individual prelate, in instructing the flock committed to his charge: What I have received, that I deliver to you.-Discipline which is subject to the alterations of time and place, allows other modes of proceeding."

"Fourthly. During the first eight centuries, there was not a shade of difference in the doctrines of the Greek and Latin churches: their sentiments were precisely the same on every individual article of faith. All were catholics; and so-a few points excepted-have the Greeks continued down to the present day. In the ninth century the schism began, and has never since been completely closed; the points of disunion, principally, beingthe primacy of the Roman bishop over all the churches; the addition made to the creed of Constantinople, usually called the Nicene creed, concerning the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son; and the use of unleavened bread at the altar, by the Latins. The ambition of Photius, patriarch of the imperial city of Constantinople, first fomented the quarrel; which much of the same spirit, I fear, has since upheld."

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Owing to this schism it has been, that many persons not attentive to dates, but attentive to the present difference of opinions, have incautiously fancied, that the Greek and Latin churches at no time thought alike; and that the points on which they differ are many, and not the few which I have mentioned. To obviate this mistake on the first head, it is necessary to notice, as we pass from century to century in our course of reading, and from father to father-with what uniformity they utter the same sentiments, whether members of the Greek, or of the Latin rite."

"This unity of belief, so observable in the early centurieswhich must be viewed as an essential mark of the church of Christ as it rests on the immutable nature of truth, and is secured in its perpetuity by the means so often stated, must-if we reasoned only from moral probabilities-ever continue. The public mind, it will be admitted, has been often agitated, and often divided by discordant opinions, arising from the disputes of theologians on a variety of subjects; though oftener such disputes-at least amongst us in the West-gained not the ear of the multitude. As far as it went, this was an evil; but it is an evil inseparable from that liberty of thought and speech, which cannot be restrained. But, in the heat of the warmest altercations, no discordance was, at any time, discoverable, on the points of general belief, and the authority connected with them. This fact is deserving of notice, and must appear more so, when -through the progress of thirteen centuries-which followed the

times of which I have spoken-we contemplate the earlier events only-that is, the state of the European kingdoms, invaded and occupied by barbarous nations; the monuments of ancient days, in literature and in arts, destroyed; the venerable language of Rome merging in foreign dialects; and-but the picture by too many writers is too deeply coloured-the whole face of the moral world more or less disfigured by ignorance, superstition and indiscriminating credulity. In the last, from the wider spread of heresies, and the portentous conquests of Mahomet and his followers, the case was worse. Yet the faith of the Jeroms and the Chrysostoms was not affected: the number of its professors was curtailed; but--wherever that faith was, there it was-one and entire. Surely the hand of that Being, who promised to be with his church to the end of the world, is in this visible; protecting and upholding, what I called the work of his mercy."

"To the other moral causes of the perpetuity of faith, must likewise be added, in the West, the vigilant superintendance of the Roman bishop; which vigilance, as in the darker ages it became more necessary, was more active; while his chair-with which all churches held an intercourse-served throughout as a centre of union to all.-Let me also add, as another preservative of unity in faith, the continued prevalence of the Latin language in the public service of the church. The culture of this language, and also that of Greece, while it prepared the christian minister for the discharge of his public functions, preserved them both from extinction; tended to give some relish for the learning of former days, and with it an anxiety not to let perish the choicest monuments of that learning; and, should a better era arise, it would be at hand to aid the reviving cause of letters."

"The sum of these observations, which I am compelled to close, may be comprised in a few words.-We believe that all the points of catholic faith exclusively, as likewise such other points as are common to us and other christian societies, were origi nally taught by Christ, and by him communicated to his apostles, to whom he gave a commission to go and teach the same to all nations; promising, at the same time, that he would be with them to the end of the world. This body of Divine truths those apostles, we believe, delivered-pure and unaltered, as they had received them-to the nations which they converted; and-to those men particularly, whom they appointed to be their successors in the ministry. The form of teaching, ordained by Christ, was thus established. But, as daily, in the progress of time-let us say, by the end of the first century--men began to recede further from the days of Christ and his apostles, a necessity arose, that every preacher of the christian doctrine should prove to his hearers, that the points which he delivered as divine truths, were really such; that is, were those which Christ

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and his apostles had taught. His own word, it is plain, could not here suffice. He had recourse, therefore, to the aid of testimony:-to the testimony of those who had conversed with the apostles, and had been instructed by them, could any such be found; or to such documents as they might have left: and he had recourse with peculiar confidence to those writings which now began to be circulated, and were received as authentic in the churches. These writings we call the books of the New Testament, which were then carefully preserved; and, in their integrity, have been transmitted down to us."

"Thus is the use of these scriptures at once made manifest; and, as time goes on, their use in the same sense, remains; while to them as an additional testimony, continue to be superadded the works of the fathers. These attest, century after century, what are the points of faith which were received, and were delivered. Through this channel, then, as St Paul expresses it, of receiving and delivering, all the truths taught by our Saviour Christ, are transmitted to us in an uninterrupted series by the pastors of the church; which truths the scriptures confirm, while the writings of the fathers accompany and attest the legitimacy of their descent."

"The following passage from Bossuet will not be foreign from our purpose. Reasoning with the Calvinistic minister Claude in a beautiful strain of eloquence, he thus proceeds :-"There was no time when a visible and speaking authority did not exist, to which submission was due. Before Jesus Christ, that authority, among the Jews, was in the synagogue; when the synagogue was on the point of failing, Jesus Christ himself appeared: when this divine personage withdrew, he left a church, and with it his Holy Spirit. Tell me, that Jesus Christ once more appears upon the earth teaching, preaching and working miracles; I want this church no longer. But if you take her from me, again I must have Jesus Christ in person, speaking, instructing, and deciding by miracles, and with an unerring authority. But has he not left, you say, his written word? He has a word holy and adorable; but it is a word that may be handled and expounded as fancy shall direct; a word that remains silent under every interpretation. When difficulties and doubts arise, then I must have some external guide that shall solve those difficulties, and satisfy my doubts; and that guide must be unerring." Conference avec M. Claude, p. 129.

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"I will close with the character of a catholic, as drawn in the fifth century by Vincent of Lerins:-" He is a true and genuine catholic, who loves the truth of God, his church and its members; who to his religion and his faith prefers nothing -not the authority of any man-not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy; but who looking down upon these things with in

difference, and firmly fixed in his belief resolves to admit and to adhere to that only, which from ancient times he knows to have been universally received." Commonit. c. xx. p. 346.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus charitas.

By this golden rule, the intelligent reader will be enabled to appreciate the principles of the discordant sects enumerated in this Dictionary and the Editor himself is willing to submit to its correction-whatever he may have incautiously advancednot reconcileable with its genuine spirit. If he has, in any instance, exceeded the boundaries of charitable animadversionwhere the erroneous maxims of fellow-christians seemed to him to require unqualified disapprobation, he begs permission to disavow, on such occasions, all personal hostility, and all intentional endeavours unnecessarily to wound their feelings.

ERRATA.

Read-Edinburgh, instead of British, Encyclopedia, art. CULDEES.
Wittenburg, instead of Wirtemberg, art. LUTHER, &c.

NEWCASTLE: PRINTED BY EDW. WALKER, PILGRIM-STREET.

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