Изображения страниц

things, our desire is not to write one line, which, dying,—or in heaven,

"We would wish to blot."

Still, this desire, so deeply cherished, does not forbid a full and free examination of arguments. Our conscientious belief is, that the superiority "in ministerial power and rights," (Tract, p. 15,) claimed by Episcopal bishops, is a superiority known in the Episcopal churches only, and not in the New Testament; and this we purpose to show.

In entering upon our examination of the "Answer," we may remark, that the scriptural argument for Episcopacy is now fairly and entirely before the world. On the Episcopal side, nothing material to be said can remain. The whole argument is in the Tract and in the Answer. If Episcopacy is not established in these, we may infer that it is not in the Bible. If not in the Bible, it is not "necessarily binding." (Tract, p. 3.) To this conclusion-that the whole of the material part of the scriptural argument is before the world in these pamphlets-we are conducted by the fact, that neither talent, learning, zeal, nor time, have been wanting in order to present it; that their author entered on the discussion, manifestly acquainted with all that was to be said; that the subject has now been before the public more than four years, (see advertisement to the Tract;) and that, during that time, it is to be presumed, if there had been any more material statements to be presented from the Bible, they would have appeared in the "Answer." There is much advantage in examining an argument with the conviction that nothing more remains to be said; and that we may, therefore, contemplate it as an unbroken and unimprovable whole, without the possibility of any addition to the number of arguments, or increase of their strength. On this vantageground we now stand, to contemplate the argument in

support of the stupendous fabric of Episcopacy in the Christian church.

In entering upon this examination, we are struck with— what we had indeed anticipated-a very strong inclination, on the part of the author of the tract, to appeal again to, certain "extraneous" authorities, of which we heard nothing in the tract itself, except to disclaim them. The tract commenced with the bold and startling announcement, that if Episcopacy has not the authority of Scripture, it is not "necessarily binding," p. 3. "No argument," the tract goes on to say, "is worth taking into the account, that has not a palpable bearing on the clear and naked topic-the scriptural evidence of Episcopacy," p. 3. We have italicised part of this quotation, to call the attention of our readers particularly to it. The affirmation, so unusual in the mouth of an Episcopalian, is, that no argument is WORTH TAKING INTO THE ACCOUNT, that does not bear on the scriptural proof. Now we anticipated that, if a reply was made to our review, from any quarter, we should find a qualification of this statement, and a much more complacent regard shown to the Fathers, and to other “extraneous considerations," (Tract, p. 4,) than would be consistent with this unqualified disclaimer in the tract. The truth is, that the Fathers are regarded as too material witnesses to be so readily abandoned. The "tradition of the elders" has been too long pressed into the service of Episcopacy; there has been too conscious a sense of the weakness of scriptural proof, to renounce heartily, entirely, and forever, all reliance on other proof than the New Testament. The "Answer" would have lacked a very material feature which we expected to find in it, if there had been no inclination manifested to plunge into this abyss of traditional history, where light and darkness struggle together, and no wish to recall the testimony of uninspired antiquity to the service of prelacy. Accordingly, we were prepared for the following

declaration, which we quote entire, from pp. 3 and 4 of the Answer :

[ocr errors]

"Because the author of the tract rested the claims of Episcopacy finally on Scripture,-because he fills a high office in the church, and because the tract is issued by so prominent an Episcopal institution as the Press,' the reviewer seems to think that Episcopalians are now to abandon all arguments not drawn directly from the Holy Volume. Not at all. The author of the tract, in his sermon at the consecration of the four bishops, in October, 1832, advocated Episcopacy, besides on other grounds, on that of there being several grades of office in the priesthoods of all religions, false as well as true, and in all civil magistracies and other official structures, and, in his late Charge, he adverted to the evidence in its favour contained in the Fathers. And the 'Press,' at the time it issued the tract, issued also with it, in the Works on Episcopacy,' those of Dr. Bowden and Dr. Cooke, which embrace the argument at large. There is no reason, therefore, for thinking that, however a single writer may use selected arguments in a single publication, either he or other Episcopalians will (or should) narrow the ground they have usually occupied. The Fathers are consulted on this subject, because the fabric of the ministry which they describe forms an historical basis for interpreting Scripture. And general practice, in regard to distinct grades among officers, throws a heavier burden of disproof on those whose interpretations are adverse to Episcopacy: this latter topic we shall again notice before we close."

This passage, so far from insisting, as the Tract had done, that no argument was worth taking into the account, except the scriptural proof, refers distinctly to the following points, which we beg leave to call "extraneous considerations," as proof of Episcopacy. (1.) The fact that there "are several grades of office in the priesthood of all religions;" (2.) That the same thing occurs "in all civil magistracies and other official structures;" (3.) The evidence of the Fathers; and, (4.) "Other grounds," which the author informs us he had insisted on, in an ordination sermon, in 1832. And in this

[ocr errors]

very passage, he makes the following remarkable statement, which we propose soon to notice further: "The fathers are consulted on the subject, because the fabric of the ministry which they describe, forms an historical basis for interpreting Scripture."

Slight circumstances often show strong inclinations and habits of mind. How strong a hold this reference to other "considerations" than the Scriptures, has taken upon the mind of the author of the Tract, and how reluctant he was to part with the "extraneous" argument from the Fathers, is shown by the fact, that he again recurs to it in the "Answer," and presents it at much greater length. Thus on pp. 18, 19, at the very close of the Answer, we are presented with the following recurrence to the argument from other considerations than the Scriptures:

"One word more concerning the burden of proof,' as contrasted with the 'presumptive argument.' The tract claimed no presumption in its favour, in seeking for the scriptural proofs of Episcopacy. We do a presumption founded on common sense, as indicated by common practice. Set aside parity and Episcopacy, and then look at other systems of office, both religious and civil, and you find several grades of officers. In the Patriarchal church, there was the distinction of high-priest' and 'priest.' In the Jewish church, (common sense being, in this case unquestionably, divinely approved,) there were the high-priest, priests, and levites. Among the Pagans and Mohammedans, there are various grades in the office deemed sacred. Civil governments have usually governors, a president, princes, a king, an emperor, etc., as the heads of the general, or state, or provincial magistracies. In armies and navies there is always a chief. If the reviewer should claim exceptions, we reply they are exceptions only, and very few in number. The general rule is with us. That general rule, next to universal, is, that, among officers, there is a difference of power, of rights, of rank, of grade, call it what you will. And this general rule gives a presumption that such will also be the case in the Christian church. We go to Scripture, then, with the presumptive argu

ment fully against parity. If we should find in Scripture neither imparity nor parity, still common sense decides for the former. If we find the tone of Scripture doubtful, on this point, imparity has the advantage, common sense turning the scale. If we find there intimations, less than positive injunctions, in favour of imparity, common sense, besides the respect due to Scripture, decides for our interpretation of them. And if any thing in Scripture is supposed to prove or to justify parity, it must be very explicit, to overturn the suggestion of common sense. The presumptive argument,' then, is clearly with us, and the burden of proof' lies on parity. Let the reviewer peruse the tract again, bearing in mind the principles laid down in this paragraph, and he will, we trust, think better of it."

These observations, it will be remembered, are made by the same writer, and in connection with the same subject as the declaration, that " NO ARGUMENT IS WORTH TAKING INTO THE ACCOUNT, that has not a palpable bearing on the clear and naked topic,-the scriptural evidence of Episcopacy."

Now, against the principles of interpretation here stated, and which the Tract led us to suppose were abandoned, we enter our decided and solemn protest. The question-the only question in the case--is, Whether Episcopacy "has the authority of Scripture ?" (Tract, p. 3.) The affirmation is, that if it has not, "it is not necessarily binding," (p. 3.) The principle of interpretation, which in the Answer is introduced to guide us in this inquiry, is, that "the Fathers are consulted on the subject, because the fabric of the ministry which they describe, forms an historical basis for interpreting Scripture." (Answer, p. 3.) In order to understand the bearing of this rule of interpretation, it is necessary to know what it means. A "basis" is defined to be "the foundation of a thing; that on which a thing stands or lies; that on which it rests; the ground-work or first principle; that which supports." (Webster.) An "historical basis" must mean, therefore, that the opinions or facts of history—that is, in this

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »