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subject. Our Episcopalian friends regard it as unanswerable. They have provided amply for its circulation, and rely on its making converts wherever it is perused; and, in a tone which cannot be misunderstood, they are exulting in the fact that, to this day, it has been left entirely unnoticed by the opponents of prelacy.* And we wonder, too, that it has not been noticed. There are men among us who seem to consider the external defence of the church as intrusted to their peculiar care; who delight to be seen with the accoutrements of the ecclesiastical military order, patrolling the walls of Zion; who parade with much self-complacency, as sentinels in front of the temple of God; who are quick to detect the movements of external enemies; and who are admirably adapted to this species of warfare. They seem to have little heart for the interior operations of the church, and seldom notice them, except to suggest doubts of the expediency of some new measure proposed, or to promote discord and strife, by laying down rules for the conduct of those who are labouring in the direct work of saving souls. Much do we marvel that these men have suffered this tract to lie so long unnoticed.
We have never regarded the Episcopal controversy with any very special interest. Our feelings lead us to dwell on subjects more directly connected with the salvation of the soul. We have no taste for the species of warfare which is often waged in guarding the outposts of religion. Christianity, we have supposed, is designed to act directly on the hearts of men; and we regard it as a matter of very little moment in what particular church the spirit is prepared for its eternal rest, provided the great object be accomplished of bringing it fairly under the influence of the gospel.
"Has the tract Episcopacy tested by Scripture,' been answered? This, we believe, is neither the first time of asking, nor the second, nor the third."-Protestant Episcopalian.
But, we propose, for the reasons already suggested, to examine the arguments of this tract. We do it with the highest respect for the author; with a full conviction that he has done ample justice to his cause; that he has urged on his side of the question all that can be advanced; and we enter on the task with sincere pleasure at meeting an argument conducted with entire candour, without misrepresentation, and with a manifest love of truth. Our wish is to reciprocate this candour; and our highest desire is to imitate the chastened spirit, the sober argumentation, and the Christian temper evinced in this tract. It is firm in its principles, but not illiberal; decided in its views, but not censorious; settled in its aims, but not resorting to sophism, or ridicule, to carry its points. There is, evidently, in the author's mind too clear a conviction of the truth of what he advances, to justify a resort to the mere art of the logician; too manifest a love of the cause in which he is engaged, to expose himself to the retort which might arise from lofty declamation, or the expression of angry passions towards his opponents.
One object which we have in view, in noticing this tract, is to express our gratification that the controversy is, at last, put where it should have been at first-on an appeal to the Bible alone. Never have we been more digusted than at the mode in which the Episcopal controversy has usually been conducted. By common consent, almost, the writers, on both sides, have turned from the New Testament, where the controversy might have been brought to a speedy issue, to listen to the decisions of the Fathers; and, as might have been expected, have
"Found no end, in wandering mazes lost."
It was the policy of the friends of prelacy to do so; and it was the folly of their opponents to suffer them to choose the field of debate, and to weary themselves in an effort to fix the
meaning, to secure the consistency, and obtain the suffrages of the Fathers. Full well was it known, we believe, by the friends of Episcopacy in other times, that the New Testament could furnish a most slender support for their claims. In the times of the Papacy, it had always been defended by an appeal to the Fathers. The system had risen, sustained, not even professedly, by the authority of the Bible, but by the traditions of the elders. The ranks and orders of the papal priesthood could be defended only by the authority of a church which claimed infallibility, and which might dispense, therefore, with the New Testament. The Reformers came forth from the bosom of the Papacy with much of this feeling. They approached this subject with high reverence for the opinions of past times; with a deference for the Fathers, nourished by all the forms of their education, by all existing institutions, and by the reluctance of the human mind to break away from the established customs of ages. On the one hand, the advocates of Episcopacy found their proofs in the common law of the church, the institutions which had existed "time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary;" and, on the other hand, the opponents of prelacy were equally anxious to show that they had not departed from the customs of the fathers, and that the defence of their institutions might be found in times far remote, and in records which received the veneration, and commanded the confidence, of the Christian world. Into this abyss both parties plunged. In this immense chaos of opinions and interpretations; into these moving, disorganized, jostling elements, where, as in the first chaos, light struggled with darkness and confusion reigned, they threw themselves, to endeavour severally to find the support of their opinions. "Whatsoever time, or the heedless hand of blind chance," says Milton, "hath drawn down from of old to this present, in her huge drag-net, whether fish or seaweed, shells or shrubs, unpicked, unchosen, those are the
Fathers." With those who, according to Mosheim,* deemed it not only lawful, but commendable, to deceive and lie for the sake of truth and piety, it would be singular if any point could be settled that involved controversy. With men who held to every strange and ridiculous opinion; to every vagary that the human mind can conceive;† it would be remarkable if both sides in this controversy did not find enough that had the appearance of demonstration, to perplex and embarrass an opponent ad libitum. In examining the controversy, as it was conducted in former times, we have been often amused, and edified, at the perfect complacency with which a passage from one of the Fathers is adduced in defence of either side of the question, and the perfect ease with which, by a new translation, or by introducing a few words of the context, or more frequently by an appeal to some other part of the same author, not studious himself of consistency, and probably having no settled principles, the passage is shown to mean just the contrary; and then, again, a new version, or yet another quotation, shall give it a new aspect, and restore it to its former honours. Thus the Fathers became a mere football between the contending parties; and thus in this controversy the weary searcher for truth finds no solid ground. Eminently, here, "he which is first in his cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." Prov. xviii. 17. To this wearisome and unsatisfactory toil he is doomed who will read all the older controversies on Episcopacy. There he,
"O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense or rare,
Were we to adduce the most striking instance of the plastic
*Murdock's Mosheim, vol. i. p. 159.
See Tillemont's Ecclesiastical History, passim.
See the Letters of Dr. Miller, and Dr. Bowden, on Episcopacy, passim.
nature of this kind of proof, we should refer to the epistles of Ignatius. To our eyes they seem to be a plain, straightforward account of the existence of Presbyterianism in his time. They are substantially such a description as a man would give, writing in the inflated and exaggerated manner in which the Orientals wrote, of Presbyterianism as it exists in the United States. Yet it is well known that, with the utmost pertinacity those letters have been adduced as proving the doctrine of Episcopacy. And so confident have been the assertions on the subject, that not a few non-Episcopalians have given them up as unmanageable, and have stoutly contended, what may be very true, that no inconsiderable part of them are forgeries.
Any man can see what a hopeless task is before him, if he endeavours to settle this controversy by the authority of the Fathers. The waste of time, and talent, and learning, on this subject, is fitted deeply to humble the heart. And even yet the passion has not ceased. Even now, men high in office and in rank, leave the New Testament and appeal to the Fathers. Episcopacy is discarded, not principally because the New Testament is a stranger to it, but because Jerome was not a prelatist; it is rejected, not because it cannot be made out from the Bible, but because it is a matter of debate, whether the Fathers teach it or not. From this unprofitable and endless to turn to the true merits of the case. that one man can be found who is willing to bring to this subject the great principle of the Protestant Reformation, that all religious opinions are to be tested by the Scriptures. And we especially rejoice to see this principle so decisively advanced by a man of the talents and official rank of Dr. Onderdonk; and that it is so prominently avowed by sending forth from the "Protestant Episcopal Press," a tract in its defence. It indicates a healthy state of things in the Episcopal Church
litigation, we are glad We rejoice sincerely