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positive evidence to the contrary. And thus, according to his own account, we dispose of the present controversy.

But how does he meet this disproof? Why, by a re-statement of the question, in which he drops his own position and essential assertions, as to the whole early Church, and substitutes instead the more qualified statement, that the writings of the Fathers" embody a system which we must not copy, and which in Scripture is distinctly foreshown 'a departure from the faith: " a statement not true as a whole, (as I shall show in the last part of my "Remarks"); but, whether true or false, a very different thing from that which was " the foundation of the argument" of his first volume. Truly, whatever becomes of the Oxford Tract divines, the Author of "Ancient Christianity" is "not to be trusted as a controvertist."


In short, he has shifted his ground altogether. He has quitted the ground of the entire primitive Church, and confines himself to a particular age; and in so doing, he has himself silently conceded his main position. He has now occupied himself with attacking those, whoever they are, who wish to revive Nicene principles and practices as a whole; and, assuming that they claim "a pre-eminent sanctity" for the Church of that age, and on that ground are wishing us to re-adopt its whole system, he has set himself to work very successfully to prove, that the Christian body was extremely corrupt in morals,

and that very pernicious doctrines and practices, in connexion with asceticism, as well as upon other points, prevailed even in the highest places of the post-Nicene Church. And if there are any persons, who are wishing us to look up to the Church of that age as an authority to be reverently followed in its whole system (as there is, I confess, some reason to think was Mr. Froude's view); if the younger Clergy are, in any part of the kingdom, in danger of being led away by such a delusion; I frankly wish success to any argument which shall fairly tend to dissipate it. But as Mr. Taylor has not confined himself to fair arguments, I cannot, in any sense, or to any degree, wish success to his enterprize. He appears to be incapable of taking up any argument, without exaggerating or caricaturing it; and, therefore, not content with proving the post-Nicene Church corrupt and in error, he must needs prove it absolutely apostate, on which portion of the argument I purpose to meet him in the concluding part of my "Remarks."

And now, a word or two on the subject of the principle which Mr. Taylor has made the great object of his attack. I have stated it nakedly, and in a form which, to many minds, will be very objectionable; because they fancy that consequences must result from it, in which they should be unwilling to acquiesce. They appear to think it may be made use of to prove something contrary to the Scriptures. But surely, it must be in the highest degree impro

bable, that God should so immediately give up his Church to error, after the departure of the Apostles, as that there should instantly spring up, and spread throughout the Churches, and continue for hundreds of years, a system contrary to that established by the Apostles themselves. What motive can be found sufficiently strong, to induce all the Churches every where, immediately, and for centuries, to acquiesce in such a monstrous change? Surely, it is absolutely incredible. It requires the strongest proof the subject is capable of, to establish so extraordinary a position. Whereas, apart from prejudice, nothing appears so simple and natural as to conclude, that what we find prevalent immediately after the death of the Apostles, and continuing universally for centuries, must have been established or taught by them.

But then comes an alarm, as to the setting up a standard of truth, distinct from Scripture. But are not all the truths of natural religion established quite independently of Scripture? And yet does any one quarrel with Paley's "Natural Theology," or with the "Bridgewater Treatises," because they establish the attributes of God, independently of Scripture? Or should we esteem it a mischief, that an infidel Christian had been brought to a conviction of the truths of natural religion by such books as these, instead of learning them from the Bible? Surely not. We feel that the Sacred Writings presuppose a belief in natural religion.


There is again a feeling of alarm, when this principle of the value of early tradition is brought into contact with Scripture, and made to bear upon its interpretation. To us it appears so natural, that the only surprising thing is, that there was no traditional interpretation of texts of Scripture, at least not to any great extent. But as we go to criticism, and Jewish and profane history, and Jewish traditions, and Oriental customs, to ascertain the true meaning of Scripture, surely, if we can find any practices or principles of the nature we are supposing, they must be of much higher value than any of these can be. I cannot comprehend the feelings of a man who knows or supposes that there are such, and yet feels no reverence towards them. It is a thing one cannot require of another; but one does not readily understand, how he can avoid entertaining an affectionate respect towards them, and a disposition to give greater weight to the light they may throw upon Scripture, than to any other of the apparatus we bring to bear upon the letter of Scripture to elicit its spirit. It appears to us the extreme of idleness, to talk of the commentary in this way smothering the text. If it is really contrary to the text, we should of course reject it: but that does not happen. But what can be apparently more directly in contradiction to St. Paul's command not to observe sabbaths, than our present practice and doctrine? The first, and most natural impression undoubtedly is, that we must not observe the Sabbath in any sense:

nor is there any thing in the New Testament to prove the contrary. When, therefore, we get rid of this natural, and (at first sight) obvious meaning, does any rational person talk of the commentary overlaying the text? Does he accuse the commentator of wishing to do away with "the written will of God?" Now, nothing so extreme as this, by many degrees, is attempted by any advocate of primitive tradition belonging to the Church of England. There is not a single text of Scripture to which, by calling in the aid of tradition, we do violence in any degree equal to that which all Protestants do to this text. However, Mr. Taylor grants that the writings of the Fathers are of inestimable advantage for purposes of biblical criticism. That is, probably he would grant that Chrysostom's knowledge of Greek was a considerable inducement to us to believe that his interpretation of the Greek Testament is of some value: but I am afraid he would still shudder at the idea that we should surrender the generally-received meaning of any passage of the Scripture, or even that which to our previous judgment appeared necessarily correct, because the Fathers, down to the Council of Nice, agree to affix one interpretation to it. And yet, apart from prejudice, a universal consent during the period nearer to apostolical times, appears a stronger ground for accepting an interpretation, than the private opinion of an individual, however accurate his knowledge of language, or however good his judgment.


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