Images de page

plained so loudly of the omission of testimony, had he not felt that every scrap which bears the most distant appearance of plausibility, is necessary to assist his cause.

With respect to another charge of Dr. Bowden, that I have omitted to produce certain testimony from some of the Fathers of the third and fourth centuries, it is scarcely worthy of an answer. entering on this part of the controversy in my former Letters, I made the following explicit declaration:


"In examing the writings of the Fathers, I "shall admit only the testimony of those who "wrote within the FIRST TWO CENTURIES. Im

[ocr errors]

mediately after this period so many corruptions "began to creep into the Church; so many of the most respectable Christian writers are known to "have been heterodox in their opinions; so much "evidence appears, that even before the com

mencement of the third century, the Papacy be46 gan to exhibit its pretensions; and such multi"plied proofs of wide spreading degeneracy crowd "into view, that the testimony of every subsequent "writer is to be received with suspicion. Besides, "if diocesan Episcopacy existed, and were of the "fundamental importance that our Episcopal bre "thren make it to be, we may surely expect to "find some reference to it in the records of two "hundred years; and especially when we consi"der that those were years of the greatest simpli"city and purity ever known to the Church," Af



ter such a declaration, who would have expected to find it imputed to me, as an unfair proceeding, that I had not exhibited the whole testimony of the Fathers of the third and fourth centuries; especially after conceding, in the most unequivocal manner, that clerical imparity had begun to appear in the third, and was established in the fourth century? But I forbear. To take up your time in replying to cavils of this nature, even if one had patience enough for the purpose, would be equally irksome and useless.

In my former Letters, I omitted to examine the testimony of the Apostolical Canons, and the Apostolical Constitutions; and assigned as a reason for the omission that I considered them as spurious and unworthy of credit. With this omission, and the reason for it, Dr. Bowden is much offended. He does not, indeed, attempt to establish the authenticity of the Apostolical Constitutions; but for that of the Canons he contends with ardent zeal. He charges me with having "vilified" them; and thinks, if I had ever read Beveridge's defence of them, I should have been more "cautious" and "modest." I beg leave to inform my "learned" antagonist, that I am not an entire stranger to Beveridge's work, and that after weighing his arguments as impartially as I can, I am still so “incau"tious" and "immodest" as to believe that these Canons are not what they profess to be. Beveridge himself does not contend that they were made by the Apostles; and Dr. Bowden acknowledges the

same thing. They are not, therefore, Apostolical Canons. The learned Daillé is of the opinion that they were not compiled till the fifth century; Blondel dates their compilation towards the close of the third century; and even Beveridge himself, their most partial defender, supposes them to be the decrees of Synods in the second and third centuries, collected at different times, and by dif ferent hands. Now, so far as they belong to the third century, the line which I have drawn excludes them from my notice. When Dr. Bowden can decide which of them were formed in the second century, and which of them are of a later date, I shall consider myself as bound by my plan to examine the former class, and not before.

But, if I do not mistake, some imputations may be brought against both the "caution" and the "modesty" of Dr. Borden himself, in this business. It would be easy to produce a number of Episcopal writers, of the highest reputation for talents and learning, who have, without ceremony, pronounced the Apostolical Canons, as well as the Apostolical Constitutions, to be destitute of authenticity. Dr. B. certainly could not have been acquainted with these writers, of his own. Church; as it is not supposable that he would set up his judgment in opposition to theirs. Among others, Bishop Taylor, who was at least as competent a judge as Dr. B. speaks of the writings in question in the following language:

"Even of the fifty (Canons) which are most "respected, it is evident that there are some things 66 so mixed with them, and no mark of difference "left, that the credit of all is much impaired; in"somuch that Isidore, of Seville, says, "they "were apocryphal, made by hereticks, and pub"lished under the title Apostolical; but neither "the Fathers nor the Church of Rome did give 56 assent to them*."

Dr. Bowden not only charges me with omitting to state the testimony of some Fathers, but also with misrepresenting that of others. Most of the instances which he produces in support of this charge, do not appear to me entitled to any reply. Of a few, however, it may be proper to take a cursory notice.

He asserts that I have misrepresented the testimony of Ignatius; but wherein does this misrepresentation consist? Dr. Bowden will not dare to deny that my quotations from that Father are larger and more numerous than his own; nor will he dare to deny, that I have selected, and fairly exhibited, those very quotations which high churchmen have generally adduced as, in their view, most decisive in favour of Prelacy. In what respect, then, have I been guilty of misrepresentation? He will probably reply that my comments on the testimony of Ignatius are unfair. The best answer to this charge will be a dispassionate review of those comments;

* Liberty of Prophesying, Sect. 5. Art. 9,

and I will venture to say, that no one who takes this trouble, will find any thing in them but what is natural, probable, and abundantly warranted by the strain of the testimony itself.

Ignatius, indeed, speaks much of Bishops. But I have shown that this title furnishes no ground of argument in favour of Prelacy. He speaks much, too, of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, as distinguished from each other: but I have also clearly so that this distinction is perfectly consistent with our doctrine of ministerial parity; and that to represent it in a different light, is a mere begging of the question in dispute. But I will go further, and again venture, with greater confidence than ever, to repeat my former assertion, that the Bishop so often mentioned by Ignatius is evidently

parochial and not a diocesan Bishop. If the Bishop to whom this Father refers, was the only person, in each Church, empowered to baptize, and administer the Lord's Supper; if no marriage could take place without his knowledge and consent; if it was considered as his duty to be personally acquainted with all his flock, to take notice with his own eye of those who were present and absent at the time of public worship, to attend to the widows and the poor of his congregation, to seek out all by name, and not to overlook even the men and maid-servants of the flock committed to his charge; then, surely, no man in his senses can suppose that this officer could have been any other than a parochial Bishop or Pastor. I know that

« PrécédentContinuer »