« 上一頁繼續 »
The great AUGUSTINE, bishop of Hippo, who flourished in the latter part of the fourth, and beginning of the fifth century, has settled this question with equal perspicuity and precision.
“ Concerning the various observances in various places,” says he, “ there is one most wholesome rule to be followed: Wherever we see or know to be instituted customs which are not contrary to the faith, nor to good morals, and have any tendency to promote amendment of life, we ought, instead of disapproving, to commend and imitate them, if the infirmity of some do not oppose such a hindrance as shall produce more harm than our compliance can do good."*
Again: “ I have often perceived, with pain and grief, that weak Christians are exceedingly disturbed by the contentious obstinacy or superstitious timidity of some brethren, who, in matters of this sort, which cannot be certainly determined either by the authority of the Holy Scripture, or tradition of the universal church, or any utility in the reformation of life-led away by some petty reasoning of their own, or because they have been accustomed to see it so in their own country; or because they may have met with it in their travels, and fancy themselves so much the wiser-raise such litigious questions, as to think nothing right but what they do themselves."*
ter hoc ab Ecclesiæ Catholicæ pace atque unitate aliquando discessuna est. Quod nunc Stephanus ausus est facere, rumpens adversum vos pacem quam semper antecessores ejus vobiscum amore et bonore mu. tuo custodierunt.
CYPRIANI OPP. part : II. p. 220. * De iis quæ variè per diversa loca observantur, una in his salubers sima regula tenenda est-ut quæ non sunt contra Fidem, neque contra bonos mores, et habent aliquid ad exhortationem vitæ melioris, ubicunque institui videmus, vel instituta cognoscimus, non solum non impro-. bemus, sed etiam laudando et imitando sectemur, si aliquorum infirmitas non ita impedit, ut majus detrimentum sit.
Aygust. ep. 119. ad Januarium, cap. 18.
, T. II. col. 576.
The venerable father has given us not merely his own judgment, but, indirectly, the judgment of the Catholic church. For he says that they were only “some brethren;" and those either “ obstinate," or “ superstitiously timid,” or “conceited,” who created any contention about difference of rites. With the church at large, then, there was none : but they concurred with him in the opinion, that in all such things there is no course more becoming a dignified and prudent Christian, than to conform to the practice of that particular church which he may heppen to visit."*
* Sensi enim sæpe dolens et gemens multas infirmorum perturbationes fieri, per quorundam fratrum contentiosam obstinationem, vel superstitiosam timiditatem, qui in rebus hujusmodi, quæ neque Scriptüræ sanctæ auctoritate, neque universalis ecclesiæ traditione; neque vitæ corrigendæ utilitate ad certum possunt terminum pervenire (tantum quia subest qualiscunque ratiocinatio cogitantis, aut quia in sua patria sic ipse consuevit, aut quia ibi vidit, ubi peregrinationem suam quo remotiorem a suis eo doctiorem factam putat) tam litigiosas excitant quæstiones, ut nisi quod ipsi faciunt, nibil rectum existiment.
August. ep. 118. ad eund. c. II.
2d. The primitive church did not consider her unity as broken, nor a sufficient cause of interrupting communion as afforded, by imperfection in her moral discipline.
That all the doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatenings of God's word, and all the institutions of his house, are designed and calculated to produce universal purity in heart and life, admits of no more doubt than the existence of the Bible. For this purpose he has invested the governours of the church with authority, and made it their indispensable duty, not only to instruct their people in “ whatsoever things are true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report ;974 but to enforce their instructions by vigilant pastoral inspection, and by moral coercion of delinquents. And for the execution of this, no less than of every other, part of their trust,
* Nec disciplina ulla est in his melior gravi prudentique Christiano, quam ut eo modo agat quo agere viderit Ecclesiam ad quamcunque forte devenerit.
AUGUST. ut sup.
they shall render an account to the Judge of the quick and dead. Yet he has bimself informed them that the complete prevention cr cure of abuses and scandals is beyond their reach—that tares will be so mingled with the wheat as to render their separation, by human hands, impracticable without the hazard of rooting up the wheat also-and that while, in the wise performance of their duty, they are to do the best which their circumstances permit, they must wait for the entire purgation of the church till the second coming of the SON OF MAN, who shall then “ send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them who do iniquity.
Nevertheless there have not been wanting in the church of God attempts to effect what his word pronounces to be impossible. Zeal without knowledge—the generous but untrained ardour of juvenile reformers, who can be taught by experience alone, that “old Adam is too hard for young Melancthon"-the well meant but visionary projects of recluse devotion estranged from real life, and from the world, even the Christian world, as it actually exists—and, not unfrequently, that pragmatical officiousness
* Mat. xiii. 24-043.
which proclaims, with Jeru, “ Come and see my zeal for the Lord !" and offers piles of incense on the altar of its own vanity, for every shred which it strews on the altar of God--all these things have set men at work to find or to erect an immaculate church. The success of the experiment has been worthy of its wit. But though it always has failed, and will forever fail, of accomplishing its professed aim ; it never has failed, and never will fail, of producing one deplorable consequence. It engenders and nourishes a morbid humour, an unhappy fastidiousness, which make the religious temperament extremely irritable; fill tbe mind with disgust, and the mouth with complaint; and finally break up, or forbid, Christian fellowship under the pretence of superior purity; but, in very deed, for faults, if not trivial in themselves, yet too often trivial in comparison with the faults of the complainers.
But such causes of disunion or disaffection between churches ; or of the withdrawing of individuals from communion, provided nothing sinful be imposed on them, receive no countenance from the judgment or example of the primitive Christians.
We know that grievous abuses prevailed in several even of the Apostolic churches-Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Crete, Ephesus, Pergamos, Thy