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Further, Bishop Bull allows that “nearly all the ancient Catholics who preceded Arius have the appearance of being ignorant of the invisible and incomprehensible (immensam) nature of the Son of God;"î an article expressly contained in the Athanasian Creed under the sanction of its anathema.
It must be asked, moreover, how much directo and literal testimony the Ante-nicene Fathers give, one by one, to the divinity of the Holy Spirit? This alone shall be observed, that St. Basil, in the fourth century, finding that, if he distinctly called the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity by the Name of God, he should be put out of the Church by the Arians, pointedly refrained from doing so on an occasion on which his enemies were on the watch; and that, when some Catholics found fault with him, St. Athanasius took his part.2 Could this possibly have been the conduct of any true Christian, not to say Saint, of a later age? that is, whatever be the true account of it, does it not suggest to us that the testimony of those early times lies very unfavourably for the application of the rule of Vincentius?
Let it not be for a moment supposed that I im- s pugn the orthodoxy of the early divines, or the cogency of their testimony among fair inquirers; but I am trying them by that unfair interpretation of Vincentius, which is necessary in order to make him available against the Church of Rome. And now, as to the positive evidence which the Fathers offer in behalf of the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, it has been drawn out by Dr. Burton, and seems to fall under two heads. One is the general ascription of glory to the Three Persons together, both by fathers and churches, and that on continuous tradition and from the earliest times. Under the second fall certain distinct statements of particular Fathers; thus we find the word " Trinity” used by
| Defens. F. N. iv. 3, § 1. 2 Basil. ed. Ben. vol. 3, p. xcvj.
St. Theophilus, St. Clement, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Origen, St. Methodius; and the Divine Circumincessio, the most distinctive portion of the Catholic doctrine, and the unity of power, or again, of substance, are declared with more or less distinctness by Athenagoras, St. Irenæus, St. Clement, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus, Origen, and the two SS. Dionysii. This is pretty much the whole of the evidence.
Perhaps it will be said we ought to take the Antenicene Fathers as a whole, and interpret one of them by another. This is to assume that they are all of one school, which is a point to be proved; but it is even doubtful whether, on the whole, such a procedure would strengthen the argument. For instance, as to the second head of the two, Tertullian is the most formal and elaborate of these Fathers in his statements of the Catholic doctrine. “It would hardly be possible,” says Dr. Burton, after quoting a passage, “ for Athanasius himself, or the compiler of the Athanasian Creed, to have delivered the doctrine of the Trinity in stronger terms than these.”1 Yet Tertullian must be considered heterodox on the doctrine of our Lord's eternal existence.2 If then we are to argue from his instance to that of the other Fathers, we shall be driven to the conclusion that even the most exact statements are worth nothing more than their letter, are a warrant for nothing beyond themselves, and are consistent with heterodoxy where they do not expressly protest against it.
And again, as to the argument derivable from the Doxologies, it must not be forgotten that one of
| Ante-nicene Test to the Trinity, p. 69.
? “Quia et Pater Deus est, et judex Deus est, non tamen ideo Pater et judex semper, quia Deus semper. Nam nec Pater potuit esse ante Filium, nec judex ante delictum. Fuit autem tempus, cam et delictum et Filius non fuit, quod judicem, et qui Patrem Dominum faceret."- Contr. Herm. 3.
the passages in St. Justin Martyr includes the worship of the Angels. “We worship and adore,” he says, “Him, and the Son who came from Him and taught us these things, and the host of those other good Angels, who follow and are like Him, and the Prophetic Spirit.”1 A Unitarian? might argue from this passage that the glory and worship which the early Church ascribed to our Lord was not more definite than that which St. Justin was ready to concede to creatures.
Thus much on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Let us proceed to another example. There are two » doctrines which are generally associated with the name of a Father of the fourth and fifth centuries, and which can allege little definite testimony in their behalf before his time,-Purgatory and Original Sin. The dictum of Vincent admits both or excludes both, according as it is or is not rigidly taken; but if used as the “ Lesbian Rule," then of course it can be made to admit Original Sin and exclude Purgatory.
On the one hand, the notion of suffering, or trial, c or punishment after this life, in the case of the faithful departed, or other vague forms of the doctrine of Purgatory, has almost a consensus in its favour of the four first ages of the Church, though some Fathers state it with far greater openness and decision than others. It is, as far as words go, the Confession of St. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Perpetua, St. Cyprian, Origen, Lactantius, St. Hilary, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and of Nyssa, St. Chrysostom, Št. Jerome, St. Paulinus, and St. Augustine. And, on the other hand, there is an agree
1 Vid. infra, towards the end of the Essay, where more will be said on the passage.
2 There seems no reason why we should not allow the title Unitarian as we allow that of Presbyterian. Error is generally partial truth.
ment of Fathers from the first that mankind has derived some disadvantage from the sin of Adam.
Next, when we consider the two doctrines more distinctly,—the doctrine that between death and judgment there is a time or state of punishment; and the doctrine that all men, naturally propagated from fallen Adam, are in consequence born destitute of original righteousness,—we find, on the one hand, several, such as Tertullian, St. Perpetua, St. Cyril, St. Hilary, St. Jerome, St. Gregory Nyssen, as far as their words go, definitely declaring a doctrine of Purgatory: whereas no one will say that there is a testimony of the Fathers, equally strong, for the doctrine of Original Sin, though it is difficult to make any definite statement about their teaching without going into a discussion of the subject.
On the subject of Purgatory there were, to speak generally, two schools of opinion; the Greek, which contemplated a trial of fire at the last day through which all were to pass; and the African, resembling more nearly the present doctrine of the Roman Church. And so there were two principal views of Original Sin, the Greek and the African or Latin. Of the Greek, the judgment of Hooker is well known, though it must not be taken in the letter : “The heresy of freewill was a millstone about the Pelagians' neck; shall we therefore give sentence of death inevitable against all those Fathers in the Greek Church which, being mispersuaded, died in the error of freewill?”1 Bishop Taylor, arguing for an opposite doctrine, bears a like testimony: “Original Sin,” he says, as it is at this day commonly explicated, was not the doctrine of the primitive Church; but when Pelagius had puddled the stream, St. Austin was so angry that he stamped and disturbed it more. And truly.. I do not think that the gentlemen that urged against me St. Austin's opinion do well consider that I profess myself to fol
1 Of Justification, 26.
low those Fathers who were before him; and whom St. Austin did forsake, as I do him, in the question."1 The same is asserted or allowed by Jansenius, Petavius, and Walch,? men of such different schools that we may surely take their agreement as a proof of the fact. A late writer, after going through the testimonies of the Fathers one by one, comes to the conclusion, first, that “the Greek Church in no point favoured Augustine, except in teaching that from Adam's sin came death, and, (after the time of Methodius,) an extraordinary and unnatural sensuality also;" next, that “the Latin Church affirmed, in addition, that a corrupt and contaminated soul, and that, by generation, was carried on to his posterity,”; a doctrine denied by St. Augustine and the Church since; and, lastly, that neither Greeks nor Latins held the doctrine of imputation. It may be observed, in addition, that the doctrine of Original Sin appears neither in the Apostles' nor the Nicene Creed
One additional specimen shall be given as a sample of many others :-I betake myself to one of our altars to receive the Blessed Eucharist; I have no doubt whatever on my mind about the Gift which that Sacrament contains; I confess to myself my belief, and I go through the steps on which it is assured to me.“ The Presence of Christ is here, for It follows upon Consecration; and Consecration is the prerogative of Priests; and Priests are made by Ordination; and Ordination comes in direct line
Works, vol. ix. p. 396. 2 “Quamvis igitur quam maximè fallantur Pelagiani, quum asserant, peccatum originale ex Augustini profluxisse ingenio, antiquam vero ecclesiam illud plane nescivisse ; diffiteri tamen nemo potest, apud Græcos patres imprimis inveniri loca, quæ Pelagianismo favere videntur. Hinc et C. Jansenius, 'Græci,' inquit, ‘nisi caute legantur et intelligantur, præbere possunt occasionem errori Pelagiano ;' et D. Petavius dicit, Græci originalis fere criminis raram, nec disertam mentionem scriptis suis attigerunt.'"-Walch. Miscell. Sacr. p. 607. 3 Horn, Comment. de Pecc. Orig. 1801, p. 98.