« 上一頁繼續 »
work. They object that the consecrators of Archbishop Parker, were without sees at the time, and consequently could not convey spiritual jurisdiction. To this it is readily replied, that bishops unjustly deposed or expelled, were always held to be invested with real spiritual power : see p. 162, &c. Again, they may object to the powers of two out of the four consecrators of Archbishop Parker. Allowing this, we can show that the Apostolical Canons declare ordination by two bishops to be sufficient, and that the Romanist of all Christians should not bring forward such an objection, since Pope Pelagius was ordained but by two bishops and a presbyter.
Dr. Wiseman has recourse to a parallel which is a great favourite with the Romanist objectors against our Church. He compares us with the Donatists. We have not room to follow him on this ground, and must therefore refer the reader to Mr. Palmer's work, where he will find the falsehood and injustice of such a comparison very fully and ably exposed, and the charge, which is conveyed in it, retorted upon the Romish communion in England and Ireland. And here he concludes his work.
It is a work of good service to bis church, and all churchmen, on perusing it, will be thankful for it. When the Romanist finds himself so promptly and ably answered from our Church, he will grow afraid to meddle with it more than he can help. He cannot avoid perceiving that discussion of itself is a great detriment to such a system as his Church. It cannot fail to throw light even to the eyes of his own party on many points where darkness is most desirable. When, therefore, it provokes a successful reply from the other side, it is the running of a risk without expectation of any adequate advantage, if not of certain loss. We should not be surprised, therefore, if the ground of argument was shortly abandoned by the Romanist. He has indeed made but a sparing trial of it, just enough to warn him of its insecurity. We shall soon find him exclusively employed in the exercise of his old weapon of reckless assertion and indiscriminate abuse. Meanwhile, however, our champions must not slacken their efforts. Their writings are of the utmost service, not only for the immediate occasion which calls them forth, but also for the attention which they direct to those sources of information, whence alone a sound theology can be derived. They diffuse a taste, inspire a spirit in the rising generation of clergy, which promises great things in store both for the stability and glory of our Zion. Never, we believe, since the Reformation of our Church, (higher we need not go, as every one knows,) has it contained so large a body of well informed and truly devoted clergy as at the present day. And there is every appearance and hope of a continued increase in this genuine prosperity of condition. Only let us never yield to the unfair attempts which some are making to divide us into two distinct parties ; and on account of the extreme views of a few, include all who entertain any respect for antiquity; all who turn over the pages of the fathers, not with the spirit of ridicule, but with the desire of information, as the slaves of tradition and ceremonious observances. In this class are to be found some of our most able and successful champions against the pretensions of Rome. And woe be to our Church if the study of her history from the earliest times shall ever meet with discouragement in her bosom! In that moment her own doom is sealed, and with her the light of the gospel will depart from the land, which will merge once again into the darkness which was dispersed three centuries ago. And above all, let those who have not, from various wants of opportunity, a near acquaintance with the state of the early church, and the works of its writers, beware from what hands they supply their information. Let them not, we beseech them, take it from persons for whose sufficient learning they have no warrant, and for whose fairness they ought to entertain most cautious distrust. Still less, let them not make such information--which may be garbled, whether by ignorance or intention—a ground of accusation against their brethren ; a means of injuring, and even destroying their usefulness, and as far as in them lies, depriving their church of some of its best defenders.
Despite of one or two unfavourable examples, we have confidence in the humility, and in the justice and charity of those to whom we have adverted. We feel sure that they will be the last to pretend to dogmatize in things which they do not know; to testify against their brethren, whether of the third or nineteenth century, to facts of which they have not been eye-witnesses ; and to think evil without careful investigation. They will at least remember, that such as have examined the original documents, have a right to their opinion, and to a respect for their opinion; and they will hardly deny, that such right cannot equally belong to those who have been content to know them but at second hand.
We have only to add an earnest prayer, that Mr. Palmer, whose reputation is too high to need our praise, may be long spared to our Church; and to express to him our gratitude for the good service which he has done to the cause of truth, by the very timely publication of the present work.
Art. II.-An Inquiry into the connected Uses of the principal Means of
attaining Christian Truth. In Eight Sermons. Preached before the University of Oxford, at the Bampton Lecture for the year 1840. By EDWARD HAWKINS, D.D., Provost of Oriel College, and Prebendary of Rochester. Oxford : Parker. London: Fellowes. 8vo.
Pp. xi. 365. Almost every day contributes something to assure us that good must eventually result from the discussions arising out of the publicat the celebrated Tracts for the Times. The writers of those papers may be assailed, from one quarter, by the courteous title of the Malignants of Oxford; and, from another, with the equally benevolent imputation that they are no better than Jesuits, and secret emissaries of the Papacy. These “wild and whirling words” will soon be heard no more. The hail-storm of obloquy will pass gradually away. And, in the meantime, men possessed with “the spirit of love, and of power, and of a sound and sober mind,” will sit them down, calmly, to an honest examination of all that looks like novelty, or eccentricity, in the notions which are now raising such awful commotion in the bowels of the ultra-Protestant. And, the issue will probably be, that the church will recover some things which were well nigh lost, and "ready to die ;" and that she will utterly refuse certain other things which have in them no element of life ;
that, whatever may be truly valuable in the Oxford theory-we so term it, purely for the sake of brevity-will survive the conflict; that whatever is unsound will perish in the collision; and, that the Oxford Divines will appear, at last, in their true character-namely, that of virtuous, devoted, and profoundly learned men, more eminently gifted, perhaps, with piety and zeal than they are with wisdom or discrimination.
It has been said, indeed, that the disciples of this school are much more to be dreaded than their masters: young men having more of the crudi pericula succi in their blood, than those who are mellowed down by the influences of time and study. And we have, accordingly, heard it somewhat gravely and solemnly hinted, that a secession church is likely enough to be the end of all this extravagant mysticism. We confess that our apprehensions, on this score, are by no means very trouble
But, let us for a moment, admit the alarm to be not altogether groundless. Still, there is nothing in it to shake our confidence in the stability of our church. The schism of the non-jurors was, doubtless, an evil. But, we are far from believing that it has inflicted any permanent or serious damage on the Anglican communion. Neither are we certain that it may not, in some respects, have been graciously overruled for good. And, in the course of time, it quietly gave up the ghost. In the same manner, the schism of the Oxford school—if such should ever, unhappily, be formed-would create much agitation, and, perhaps, no ordinary confusion. It might seem to threaten, for a time, a dissolution of that strength, the whole of which is needed, in its closest concentration, for the death-grapple between the powers of this world, and the powers of the world to come. But, some how or other, we are deeply persuaded that the mischief would be transient, and, by no means so widely spread, as many may be disposed to fear. But, be this as it may, it must, at all events, be allowed, that the spirit which has gone forth from the cloisters of Oxford, can never work one thousandth part of the evil, which must have resulted from a continuance of the spirit of slumber, which came down upon the church in the course of the eighteenth century. A passing commotion in the atmosphere is much less to be dreaded than the deadly stagnation which engenders pestilence.
Among the beneficial effects of the pending controversy, we may very safely reckon the volume now before us; which is, evidently, the work of a thoughtful, candid, and charitable mind. The object of the author, in the selection of his subject-as he informs us in his preface-was to meet the difficulty inflicted on many religious inquirers by the indirect teaching, and unsystematic form, of the christian Scriptures. The difficulty is one which we believe to be all but insuperable, upon the principles, contended for in words, but virtually abandoned in practice, by those who are pleased to call themselves Bible Christians. On the face of the matter, the christian Scriptures were compiled, not for the purpose of teaching the christian faith to those who were ignorant of its first rudiments, but for the purpose of inculcating and illustrating those vital truths, which must have been, already, more or less familiar to those who had before been orally instructed. The very object for which they were written conclusively negatives the supposition that systematic instruction entered into the design of the inspired writers. just as reasonably look for system in a series of familiar letters addressed
We might by a parent to his child, with a view to confirm him in those virtuous and honourable principles, which, day by day, and line upon line, had been impressed upon him, from the earliest dawn of reason, in the course of personal and domestic training. The letters might chance to embrace the whole compass of morality. They might, perhaps, leave not a single precept or maxim untouched. But yet, it might be a vain thing to expect that any one, who had not undergone the previous discipline, should be able to build up, for himself, a regular fabric of moral truth, from the scattered materials before him. In order to enable him to estimate duly, and rightly to interpret, the collection, it would be needful, or at least highly expedient, that he should have a scheme, or plan, provided for him, by the help of which he might be in a condition to put the fragments together, and to assign to each its proper place and bearing. And, so it is with the christian Scriptures. They were addressed to certain christian societies, in order to meet occasional emergencies—to correct, as they were creeping in, a multitude of errors, in doctrine, in practice, and in discipline—to confirm the faith which might be wavering before the sword of persecution. And, assuredly, the last thing to be looked for, in writings of this description, was a formal institute, or a regular syllabus, of the christian faith. That faith had, already, been delivered to the saints. And, if we can be certain of anything, we may be certain of this—that the apostles and evangelists never expected of their disciples, that each of them should extract, for himself, the whole scheme of his belief, from historical memoirs, and hortatory or argumentative epistles. These writings, undoubtedly, were good for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. But, we hope, there is nothing rash, or irreverent, in the surmise, that they could not have been so good, or so sufficient, for these purposes, if they had not been preceded by a course of oral communication.
But, here, a serious question may arise ; if the writings of the New Testament were of this occasional nature, dictated, entirely or principally, by the exigency of times and seasons ; how can we be sure that they have touched upon every essential point, or embraced the whole compass of necessary christian truth? How can we be quite confident that the curriculum of evangelical doctrine is complete ? It is, by no means, of the nature of occasional compositions to exhibit any such completeness. On the contrary, we are rather apt to expect that various important matters will be omitted, in such writings, unless there should be some manifest necessity for their introduction. At all events, it can never be an easy matter to ascertain, beyond all dispute, that no such omission has actually taken place. How, then, are we to satisfy ourselves that the various pieces, which, together, form the christian Scriptures, do positively contain within themselves all things needful to make us wise unto salvation ?
Now, this is a question which, --like most other questions beyond the pale of the exact sciences--admits of no answer which carries with it the force of absolute demonstration. We must, after all, be content with very strong presumption. The presumption, however, in this case, is all but overpowering. In the first place, it was, clearly, the will of God, that the first teachers of the Gospel should leave behind them a variety of records, relative to the faith which they had been commissioned to proclaim. And, besides these records, we have no extant documents, touching that same faith, which can claim the plenary submission and obedience of the christian world. And, this being so, is it credible that the Spirit, which guided those teachers, would fail to secure the insertion, in some form or other, of every thing " which a Christian ought to know and believe, to his soul's health.” Whether or not the first teachers, themselves, deliberately contemplated a full, perfect, and comprehensive exhibition of the truth, in all its details, is a matter which may well be left uncertain. But, it scarcely can be questioned, that it must have been the determinate counsel of God so to influence, and overrule, the emergencies of the church, and the minds of her original rulers and instructors, as to guard her effectually against the loss of any one element of necessary christian knowledge. The form, in which this knowledge was to be perpetuated, might be direct and systematic; or, it might be irregular, unstudied, and indirect. But, in either case, the omission of any thing essential, in these, the only authoritative records, is a thought which inflicts insufferable violence on any mind, accustomed to regard Christianity as the light and life of man.
But, this is not all. The voice of the church is in harmony with this indelible persuasion. All Christendom has been pervaded, from the first, with the belief, that the Scriptures bear testimony to every truth, without exception, which can be necessary to the peace and safety of man's immortal soul. At all times, and in all places, the worthies and luminaries of the church have searched in the Scriptures for the words of eternal life, and have taught their people that the Scriptures, and these only, form the grand armoury, in which weapons are to be found fitly and duly tempered for the warfare of the church. This, at least, is a tradition, which will be confidently trusted, by all, save those who delight in the very wantonness of scepticism.
These, then, are the grounds on which we may be assured of the entire sufficiency of the canonical Scriptures;- first, an unconquerable persuasion of their sufficiency, arising out of the nature of the case ; and, secondly, the confirmation of that impression by the universal belief of the christian world. Should any one be in possession of surer grounds than these, we shall very gladly become his disciples, if he will but disclose them, and make them good. In the mean time, we are satisfied to rest on this sort of presumptive evidence. If they who reject it were boldly to follow out their own principles to extremity, we suspect that they would very soon find themselves grievously at fault, even in the most ordinary transactions of the scene which is daily passing before their eyes.
But, we now come to another question ; the question with which Dr. Hawkins is more immediately engaged ;-how are we to get at the sense of writings so artlessly and unsystematically put together? We often find, there, truths dropped upon the ground at random, rather than regularly planted. The most important matters are sometimes presented to us, rather in the way of cursory intimation and suggestion, than of dry, deliberate, and dogmatical statement. And, then, there is little or no attention to order: nothing like a regular progression from simple rudiments to high and transcendent results. If any one were left, with