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lar succession, as so many radii from the centre of a circle, or as so many rays constantly emanating from the solar orb.
If there be, then, as we maintain, no primacy conferred on Peter, the ground on which some would rest the unity of the Church is not tenable. For if there be no foundation, there can be no superstructure.
An appeal is made from the authority of Scripture to the opinion of the Fathers-from divine inspiration to the glosses and conceits of fallible men. The authority of Cyprian is pressed into the service, in order to give sanction to this assumed primacy.-But compare Cyprian with Cyprian,' and we shall find, that he perfectly accords with the sentiments of other venerable Fathers of the Church-That the unity of the Church, under its own Head, Christ, was the only unity they ever contemplated. The essential unity of the universal Church consists, in
o “ The supposition of those who claim for St. Peter a primacy over the Apostles. St. Cyprian hath a reason for it somewhat more subtle and mystical, (supposing our Lord did confer on him a preference of this kind to his brethren, who otherwise in power and authority were equal to him)— That he might intimate and recommend unity to us. And the other African doctors, Optatus and St. Austin, do commonly harp on the same notion. I can discern little solidity in this conceit, and as littte harm.”-Dr. Isaac Barrow.
holding the head, from whom the whole body joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying itself in love. As the human body is formed by the union of all members to each other, under the head,-so is the Church formed by the union of its members, under Christ, « The Head.” The essential unity of each several Church consists in unity of doctrine, in unity of discipline, bound closely by the bond of union to its “episcopatus.”
The Catholic church denotes not one particular church; for there were, and are, many true particular churches, as far as they go by right doctrine, which antiquity always taught, in all churches, with one consent: and of which church, Christ is the head. The reformed churches may have a difference of opinion concerning modes and forms; but this does not affect the practice and essential faith of Christianity; nor destroy the unity of the Catholic church. A diversity of opinions existed in the days of the apostles, and yet the churches under their superintendance were the true churches of Christ.
Far be it from the preacher to advocate a sectarian spirit of schism and division. For these evils, whether intra vel extra pomerium, tend to accelerate the downfall of the Church of
England, and the revival of Popery.—But we maintain that harmony in all points of view, in the imperfect state of the Militant Church, is not to be expected more than “absolute perfection in moral excellence.”p I dismiss this branch of my subject, with a question worthy of the notice of those, who, in the abstract, are laying an undue stress on “the unity of the Church.” Is a plea of unity a sufficient argument to induce a person to join a church, that has corrupted the pure word and worship of God? If so, the pen of history must record a verdict of guilt against the Church of England, for separating from that of Rome; and denounce the whole body of our Martyrs, as dying the death of deluded, or of factious men.
The next point in which we detect the fallacy of the Romanist, is, that of tradition. With consumate artifice he puts a question to the unwary disputant.—“What authority have you for asserting that the sacred volumes are the genuine composition of the holy persons whose names they bear, except tradition, and the voice of the Church?” There is a species of tradition, which proves the genuineness of the Scriptures ; this is — tradition of testimony. But this is no way
P See Appendix, E.
whatever connected with tradition of doctrine, but is applied to the written word. Tradition of testimony, and tradition, as a rule of faith, differ as much one from the other, as an uninterrupted chain of evidence in a court of justice, which establishing a fact, differs from an opinion, or saying of a philosopher or divine, handed down from time to time, through the medium of interested followers, unsupported by the three essential properties of valid and unimpeachable testimonyUniversality, antiquity, and consent.
An old Father, speaking of the tradition of the Catholic church, gives the following definition : It consists, he observes, in antiquity, universality, and consent. This was his only rule of expounding Scripture, but not of determining controversies in religion: and those churches only, he asserts to be Catholic, who hold, what hath been believed every where, always, and by all.
When, therefore, observes a most able writer on this subject, we speak of tradition of testimony, tradition of ceremonies, and tradition of interpretation, we must take care not to confound any of them with that sort of tradition, which is to the church of Rome a rule of faith, and which is exclusively applicable to the unwritten word. 'For tradition in this sense must be considered as too deceitful a thing to be relied on for so great a matter as salvation. Well,
therefore, does Bishop Marsh observe, that “it was not probable that an all-wise providence, imparting a new revelation to mankind, would suffer any doctrine, or article of faith, to be transmitted to posterity by so precarious a means as that of oral tradition."
There is no need for me to remind this congregation, that the rejection of tradition, as a rule of faith, constituted the vital principle of the Reformation.' Were tradition to be received among us, as a rule of faith, the pure and reformed religion of
5 “I, for my part, after a long, and as I verily believe and hope, impartial search after the true way of eternal life and happiness, do profess plain, that I cannot find any rest for the sole of my foot, but upon this rock only,—the Bible, the Bible alone. I see plainly, with my own eyes, that there are Popes against Popes, Councils against Councils, some Fathers against others, the same Fathers against themselves, the current of Fathers of one age against the current of Fathers of another age, the Church of one age against the Church of another
Traditive interpretations are pretended, but there are few or none to be found. No tradition, but only of scripture, can derive itself from the fountain, but may be proved to be brought in, in such an age after Cnrist, or that in such an age it was not in. In a word, there is no sufficient certainty, but of scripture, for any considering man to build upon.-Propose to me any thing out of this book (Bible) and require whether I believe or no, and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe it with heart and hand, as knowing, no demonstration can be stronger than this—God hath said so, therefore it is true.' "- Chillingworth.