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būt successfully maintained, the unity and succession of the church in her apostolical ministry. We have, therefore, still among us the ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, conveying it to us through an unbroken series from our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. This is to us the ordinary voice of authority; of authority ally reasonable and equally true, whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear."
Mr. Gladstone's reasoning is not so clear as might be desired. We have among us, he says, ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, and their voice is to us the voice of authority. Undoubtedly, if they are witnesses of the truth, their voice is the voice of author. ity. But this is little more than saying that the truth is the truth. Nor is truth more true because it comes in an unbroken series from the apostles. The Nicene faith is not more true in the mouth of the Archbishop of Canterbury, than in that of a moderator of the Gene. ral Assembly. If our respect for the authority of the church is to be only consequent upon our convictions of the truth of our doctrines, we come at once to that monstrous abuse--the Protestant exercise of private judgment. But if Mr. Gladstone means that we ought to believe that the Church of England speaks the truth, because she has the apostolical succession, we greatly doubt whether such a doctrine can be maintained. In the first place, what proof have we of the fact? We have, indeed, heard it said that Providence would certainly have interfered to preserve the apostolical succession of the true church. But this is an argument fitted for understandings of a different kind from Mr. Gladstone's. He will hardly tell us that the Church of England is the true church because she has the succession; and that she has the succession because she is the true church. What evidence, then, have we for the fact of the apostolical succession? And here we may easily defend the truth against Oxford, with the same arguments with which, in old times, the truth was defended by Oxford against Rome. In this stage of our combat with Mr. Gladstone, we need few weapons, except those which we find in the well-furnished and well-ordered armory of Chillingworth.
The transmission of orders from the apostles to an English clergyman of the present day, must have been through a great number of intermediate persons. Now, it is probable that no clergyman in the Church of England can trace up his spiritual genealogy from bishop to bishop, even so far back as the time of the Reformation. There remains fifteen or sixteen hundred years, during which the history of the transmission of his orders is buried in utter darkness. And whether he be a priest by succession from the apostles, depends on the question, whether, during that long period, some thousands of events took place, any one of which may, without any gross improbability, be supposed not to have taken place. We have not a tittle of evidence to any one of these events. We do not even know the names or countries of the men to whom it was taken for granted that these events happened. We do not know whether the spiritual ancestors of any one of our contemporaries were Spanish or Armenian, Arian or Orthodox. In the utter absence of all particular evidence, we are surely entitled to require that there should be very strong evidence indeed, that the strictest regularity was obser.
ved in every generation; and that episcopal functions were exer. cised by none who were not bishop by succession from the apostles. But we have no such evidence. In the first place, we have not full and accurate information touching the polity of the church during the century that followed the persecution of Nero. That, during this period, the overseers of all the little Christian societies scat. tered through the Roman empire held their spiritual authority by virtue of holy orders derived from the apostles, cannot be proved by contemporary testimony, or by any testimony which can be regarded as decisive. The question, whether the primitive ecclesiastical constitution bore a greater resemblance to the Anglican or to the Calvinistic model, has been fiercely disputed. It is a question on which men of eminent parts, learning and piety, have differed, and do to this day differ very widely. It is a question on which at least a full half of the ability and erudition of Protestant Europe has, ever since the Reformation, been opposed to the Anglican pretensions. Mr. Gladstone himself, we are persuaded, would have the candor to allow that, if no evidence were admitted but that which is furnished by the genuine Christian literature of the first two centuries, judg. ment would not go in favor of prelacy. And if he looked at the subject as calmly as he would look at a controversy respecting the Roman Comitia, or the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemote, he would probably think that the absence of contemporary evidence, during so long a period, was a defect which later attestations, however numerous, could but very imperfectly supply.
It is surely impolitic to rest the doctrines of the English Church on an historical theory, which, to ninety-nine Protestants out of a hundred, would seem much more questionable than any of those doctrines. Nor is this all. Extreme obscurity overhangs the history of the middle ages; and the facts which are discernible through that obscurity prove that the church was exceedingly ill regulated. We read of sees of the highest dignity openly sold-transferred backwards and forwards by popular tumult-bestowed sometimes by a profligate woman on her paramour--sometimes by a warlike baron on a kinsman, still a stripling. We read of bishops of ten years old-of five years old--of many popes who were mere boys, and who rivalled the frantic dissoluteness of Caligula-nay, of a female pope. And though this last story, once believed throughout all Europe, has been disproved by the strict researches of modern criticism, the most discerning of those who reject it have admitted that it is not intrinsically improbable. In our own island, it was the complaint of Allred that not a single priest south of_the Thames, and very few on the north, could read either Latin or English. And this illiterate clergy exercised their ministry amidst a rude and half heathen popu. lation, in which Danish pirates, unchristened, or christened by the hundred on a field of battle, were mingled with a Saxon peasantry scarcely better instructed in religion. The state of Ireland was still worse. “ Tota illa per universam Hiberniam dissolutio ecclesiasticæ-ilia ubique pro consuetudine Christiana sæva subnitroducta barbaries," are the expressions of St. Bernard. We are, therefore, at a loss to conceive how any clergyman can feel confident that his orders have come down correctly. Whether he be really a succes. SERIES IV.-VOL. I.
sor of the apostles, depends on an immense nutnber of such contin. gencies as these-whether, under King Elthelwolf, a 'stupid priest might not, while baptizing several scores of Danish prisoners, who had just made their option between the font and the gallows, inadvertently omit to perform the rite on one of these graceless proselytes ?-whether, in the seventh century, an imposter, who had never received consecration, might not have passed himself off as a bishop on a rude tribe of Scots ?—whether a lad of twelve did really, by a ceremony huddled over when he was too drunk to know what he was about, convey the episcopal character to a lad of ten?
Since the first century, not less, in' all probability, than a hundred thousand persons have exercised the functions of bishop. That many of these have not been bishops by apostolical succession, is quite certain. Hooker admits that deviations from the general rule have been frequent, and with a boldness worthy of his bigh and statesmanlike intellect, pronounces them to have been often justi. fiable. There may be, says he, sometimes very just and sufficient reason to allow ordination made without a bishop. Where the church must needs have some ordained, and neither hath nor can have possibly a bishop to ordain, in case of such necessity the ordi. nary institution of God hath given oftentimes, and may give place. And therefore, we are not simply without exception to urge a lineal descent of power from the apostles, by continued succession of bishops in every effectual ordination.” There can be but little doubt, we think, that the succession, if it ever existed, has often been interrupted in ways much less respectable. For example, let us suppose _and we are sure that no person will think the supposition by any means improbable—that, in the third century, a man of no principle and some parts, who has, in the course of a roving and discreditable life, been à catechumen at Antioch, and has there become familiar with Christian usages and doctrines, afterwards rambles to Marseilles, where he finds a Christian society, rich, liberal, and simplehearted. He pretends to be a Christian, attracts notice by his abilities and affected zeal, and is raised to the episcopal dignity without having ever been baptized. That such an event might happen, nay, was very likely to happen, cannot well be disputed by any one who has read the life of Peregrinus. The very virtues, indeed, which distinguished the early Christians, seem to have laid them open 10 those arts which deceived
"Uriel, though Regent of the Sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in Heaven.” Now, this unbaptized imposter is evidently no successor of the apostles. He is not even a Christian; and all orders derived through such a pretended bishop are altogether invalid. Do we know enough of the state of the world and of the church in the third century, to be able to say with confidence that there were not at that time twenty such pretended bishops? Every such case makes a break in the apostolic succession.
Now, suppose that a break, such as Hooker admits to have been both common and justifiable, or such as we have supposed to be produced by hypocrisy and cupidity, were found in the chain which connected the apostles with any of the missionaries who first spread Christianity in the wilder parts of Europe—who can say how exten. sive the effect of this single break may be? Suppose that St. Patrick, for example, if ever there was such a man, or Theodore of Tarsus, who is said to have consecrated, in the seventh century, the first bishop of many English sees, had not the true apostolical orders, is it not conceivable that such a circumstance may effect the orders of many clergymen now living ? Even if it were possible, which it assuredly is not, to prove that the church had the apostolical orders in the third century, it would be impossible to prove that those were not in the twelfth century so far lost that no ecclesiastic could be certain of the legitimate descent of his own spiritual character. And if this were so, no subsequent precautions could repair the evil.
Chillingworth states the conclusion at which he had arrived in these very remarkable words : “ That of ten thousand probables, no one should be false; that of ten thousand requisites, whereof any one may fail, not one should be wanting: this to me is extremely improbable, and even cousin-german to impossible. So that the assurance hereof is like a machine composed of several parts, of which it is strangely unlikely but some will be out of order; and yet if any piece be so, the whole fabric falls of necessity to the ground; and he that shall put them together, and maturely consider all the possible ways of lapsing and nullifying a priesthood in the Church of Rome, will be very inclinable to think that it is a hundred to one, that among a hundred seeming priests, there is not one true one; nay, that it is not a thing very improbable that, amongst the many millions which make up the Romish hierarchy, there are not twenty true.” We do not pretend to know to what precise extent the canonists of Oxford agree with those of Rome as to the circumstances which nullify orders. We will not, therefore, go so far as Chilling. worth. We only say that we see no satisfactory proof of the fact that the Church of England possesses the apostolical succession. And, after all, if Mr. Gladstone could prove the apostolical succession, what would the apostolical succession prove? He says that
we have among us the ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, conveying it to us through an unbroken series from our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles." Is this the fact? Is there any doubt that the orders of the Church of England are generally derived from the Church of Rome? Does not the Church of England declare, does not Mr. Gladstone admit, that the Church of Rome teaches much error, and condemns much truth? And is it not quite clear, that as far as the doctrines of the Church of England differ from those of the Church of Rome, so far the Church of England conveys the truth through a broken series?
No stream can rise higher than its fountain. The succession of ministers in the Church of England, derived as it is through the Church of Rome, can never prove more for the Church of England than it proves for the Church of Rome. But
this is not all. The Arian churches which once predominated the kingdoms of the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Burgundians, the Vandals, and the Sombards, were all Episcopal Churches, and all had a fairer claim than that of England, to the apostolical-suceession, ås being much nearer to the apostolical
times. In the East, the Greek Church, which is at variance on points of faith with all the Western churches, has an equal claim to this succession. The Nestorian, the Eutychian, the Jacobite Churches-all heretical, all condemned by councils of which even Protestant divines have generally spoken with respect--has an equal claim to the apostolical succession. Now if, of teachers hav. ing apostolical orders, a vast majority have taught much error-if a large proportion have laught deadly heresy--if, on the other hand, as Mr. Gladstone himself admits, churches not having a postolical orders-that of Scotland, for example-have been nearer to the standard of orthodoxy than the majority of teachers who have had apostolical orders-how can he possibly call upon us to submit our private judgment to the authority of a church, on the ground that she has these orders?
My thanks, in the name of my readers, to Bro. Shepard, for calling my attention to this valuable document. I am sorry that I cannot yet say when I will see the brethren in New York or in North Eastern Pennsylvania. I much desire such an interview; but my time and my ways are not at my own disposal. The Lord bless all the holy brethren!
WHAT IS A SECT?_WHO IS A SECTARY?-ARE THE
BAPTISTS A SECT?-No. II.
MR. ALEXANDER CAMPBELL-Dear Sir: For the most part, I am much pleased with your response to my interrogatories, so far as it is published. As you promise to gratify me with a few farther remarks in your next number, these lines may be thought uncalled for; but as I am seeking instruction, not controversy, I think it proper to let you know on what point you have failed to edify me.
You speak of “the scripture sense of Baptist.” It is impossible for me to conceive of the scripture sense of a word or phrase not occurring in the scriptures. The translation of the Bible with which King James has furnished us, contains, it is true, the word Baptist; but the Bible which God has given to man does not. I am told that you have a translation of the New Testament of your own, and I am curious to know whether the term Baptist is to be found in that. If it is, I must conclude with you, that "we all live too much in the nineteenth century to know ourselves, and the truth as it was taught, believed, and practised 1800 years ago." I have a copy of the New Testament printed not quite 150 years ago, in which the words Baptist, baptize, and baptism, are all wanting. Let me know, if you please, whether your Testament states that “in those days came John the