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TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHURCHMAN'S MONTHLY REVIEW.
DEAR SIR,- Mr. Faber complains that he does not understand the drift of my questions. I wish he had reconsidered them before replying; as they are not, I think, very unintelligible. What I seek is, to know how, upon his principles, he can undertake to assert that certain passages in Cyprian, &c., contradict the meaning put by Augustine on some passages of those authors whom he has quoted in favour of his doctrine of election. If Augustine had agreed with him in attaching that sense to them, he would not have quoted the latter as he has, as we know that he was well acquainted with the works of their authors. When therefore Mr. F. dogmatically pronounces upon their sense, he adopts a course which he calls in the case of others, when putting a meaning on Scripture, dogmatizing—not arguing.
He says “I can only say, that if Augustine himself had thought them to his purpose, he would, I suppose, have quoted them along with the others.” It is difficult to see how even that follows. But it is obvious that they may not be to the purpose, “ and yet not be directly contradictory.”
He adds, " at any rate, it is quite evident, that nobody else had ever deemed them inculcations of Augustine's peculiar doctrine." How is this " quite evident ?" Who has told Mr. F. what were the views of the hundreds of thousands or millions for whom he is here answering ?
“ And it is equally evident,” he proceeds, “ that that doctrine when promulgated only in the fifth century could by no possibility have been a feeble and openly-declared novelty, if it had been universally taught in the Church from the beginning, and thence by a plain necessity had been universally familiar. So far as I can understand the principle of evidence, the palpable result is, that Augustine was the inventor of a doctrine, which, till he propounded it, had never been heard of.” Here Mr. F. forgets that the very thing to be proved is, that it was a novelty, and had never before been heard of; which he will not do by adducing a few cotemporaries of Augustine who “ declared” it to be so. The notion of its having been universally taught in the Church from the beginning, so as to be universally familiar, is probably held by no one.
I will not, however, enter upon the general question. All I seek is an answer to the question at the commencement of this letter.
Y. Z. Sept. 1, 1846.
of a doctrine Mr. F. forsthad never bempo
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHURCHMAN'S MONTHLY REVIEW. DEAR SIR,—You will perceive, by a comparison of dates, that Mr. M'Neile's Letter, addressed to me in the August Number of the “Churchman's Monthly Review,” is answered proleptically in
further, therefore, need be said, save on a single point, which I certainly could not have anticipated.
In the commencement of his Epistle to the Ephesians, Ignatius employs the word eis dosar.
Mr. M`Neile states, speaking of myself, “ Your translation of “ eis dobar is, to ecclesiastical privileges : my translation of els “Sótav is, to glory."
For this, he refers to pp. 222, 223, of my Treatise.
Being somewhat surprised, I forthwith turned to the reference: but, neither in my first edition nor in my second, is there, at pp. 222, 223, the slightest mention made of Ignatius. Consequently still less does there occur the absurd translation, which he ascribes to me. Mr. M`Neile is a good and useful man: but I doubt whether his cause will be much strengthened by the employment of such devices.*
No sane person, I suppose, will doubt the learning of that consummate critic Mr. Cureton : and, in the present case, he must be admitted as a perfectly impartial translator. I shall, therefore, content myself with giving his version of the entire passage from the Syriac, which does not seem materially to differ from the ordinary Greek.
" Ignatius, who is Theophorus, to the Church which is blessed “ in the greatness of God the Father, and perfected; to her who “ was separated from eternity that she should be at all times for “ the glory that continueth and changeth not, and is perfected and “ chosen in the purpose of truth, by the will of the Father of Jesus “ Christ our God; to her who is deserving of happiness; to her who " is at Ephesus in Jesus Christ in joy unblameable: much peace.”
If this passage can afford any testimony to the primeval holding of the system now commonly denominated Calvinism, Mr. M`Neile is heartily welcome to it. In that case, I can only say, that he is much more easily satisfied than myself. Augustine, I much incline to think, agreed with me as to the amount of its evidential value. Had he agreed with Mr. M `Neile, he could not but have produced it, when challenged by the Christians of Marseilles.
The whole is purely a question of HISTORICAL TESTIMONY; and, so far as that is concerned, nothing, I think, can be more clear, than that the scheme, which is now called Calvinism, was purely the invention of Augustine at the beginning of the fifth century.
With many thanks for your kind admission of my papers, I must now beg to close this discussion : for I really do not see the utility of prolonging it. Sherburn House, Sept. 5th, 1845.
G. S. FABER.
[* Mr. Faber has been recently suffering from indisposition, or we should have begged him to withdraw this painful expression ; an expression which probably dropped from his pen during a moment of illness.
As is generally the case when men of truth differ on a question of fact,-both Mr. M`Neile and Mr. Faber are substantially right: -i.e. each has a portion of the truth.
In Mr. F.'s Apostolical Doctrine of Election, 2nd edit. p. 142, he thus translates the passage in question :
“To the Church deserving beatification in Ephesus of Asia, “ always predestinated before the world to glory, that it should be " permanent.”
Thus, then, Mr. Faber may truly say, “ I translated Ignatius' words correctly, and not in the absurd manner which you attribute to me."
But the passage to which Mr. M`Neile evidently referred, stands in the very next page, (2nd edit. p. 143,)—where Mr. Faber says,
“ The Idea, in short, annexed by Ignatius to Election, was that “ of an Election of all the individuals, who constituted any parti“ cular Church, into the pale of Christ's Church Catholic; with "an intention, on God's part, that, through permanence in holiness, “ they might all attain to glory; but, with a possibility, through “their own perverseness, that some might fall away and perish."
Alluding to this, Mr. M'Neile thus wrote, in p. 644 of our last number :
“ According to your view of Antiquity, Ignatius bears witness " that the Church was predestinated to ecclesiastical privileges,
with a possibility through their own perverseness, of falling “short of glory."
Now we suppose, that, in thus describing Mr. F.'s views, Mr. M'Neile did not misrepresent him. But, in repeating his argugument with brevity, he says,
“ Your translation of eis do far is, to ecclesiastical privileges," &c. My translation of cis 8o&av is, to glory.
We may safely presume, that Mr. M`N. never meant to affirm that Mr. F. had deliberately written down this, as his translation of the Greek words,—but merely that such was the view he gave, of Ignatius' meaning. We have added this note, to save Mr. M‘N. the trouble of any further reply.---Edit.]
THE SCRIPTURES AND THE FATHERS.
In most cases it would be unnatural for a Review to lay aside its own proper feature, and prolong a discussion with correspondents, incidentally raised. But when two such men as Mr. Faber and Mr. M`Neile (not to speak of Y. Z., whose real name might rank with theirs on this subject) claim our attention at once, it seems better to depart from the usual course, and adopt one, perhaps more courteous, and certainly more in harmony with our feelings, by a separate notice of their communications. The importance of the subject, and the cloud which plainly rests on it in many minds, are a further motive for continuing the discussion, even in this unusual form.
It arose in the following manner. Mr. M'Neile, in his excellent work, “ The Church and the Churches,” had made some strictures on the line of reasoning in Mr. Faber's treatise, on “the Primitive Doctrine of Election.” These related, in part, to the scriptural view of the doctrine itself, but still more, to the relative place of Scripture and the Fathers in such inquiries. In our May number we ventured to give our judgment, that Mr. M.'s remarks on these topics were “ clear, forcible, and conclusive.” We did not enter into the subject, but merely referred to the work itself. Mr. Faber, however, somewhat too rapidly, and without waiting to read the chapter in question, wrote a letter in reply; and, like the Syrian archer, drew his bow at a venture, against both the reviewer and the author. The sum of his reply was this, that Mr. M.'s argument rested solely on his private exposition of Scripture, which he assumed to be true. This was a paralogism; it was not to argue, but to dogmatize. The question was not of the authority, but of the meaning of Scripture, and Mr. M.'s was merely his own gratuitous interpretation ; whereas Mr. F.'s own work was a strictly evidential treatise, to show which was the true sense of Scripture, by the uniform voice of the Fathers before Augustine, He especially insisted on the fact that Augustine was challenged to produce authorities in favour of his view of election, and after various evasions, only ventured to quote a few passages " from Cyprian, Nazianzen, and Ambrose," the oldest of whom was in the middle of the third century. He infers that Augustine must have thought Ignatius and Hermas either neuter or adverse, or be would surely have cited such very ancient witnesses.
Our reply to our honoured friend was to this effect :-Every judgment of an individual must be, in one important sense, a private judgment, because it is his judgment, and liable to all the errors of his individual mind. Whether it be an inference from the text of Scripture, or from sentences of the Fathers, or a blind submission to the dictum of a priest, still it is that person's own judgment that such is the meaning of the Scriptures, or such is the voice of the Fathers, or that such a priest or pope is an infal. lible guide. The man must cease to exist, and to be a fallible being, before this avenue of possible error can be closed ; and all pretences to get rid of it, by an appeal to Catholic consent, or other high-sounding phrases, are as worthless as the attempts to procure a perpetual motion. The great question is really, What are the most effectual means of attaining a sound judgment ? We affirm, that the surest and best help is the direct study of Scripture, comparing text with text, and statement with statement; that this alone should be decisive in all revealed doctrines, though more plainly so with some doctrines than others; that where Scripture lends no sure and certain evidence, the doctrine is not revealed, and no opinion of twenty or a hundred Fathers can turn it into a matter of revelation. Yet, on the other hand, the consent of early writers may be very useful to strengthen our faith in a particular doctrine, when that faith has solid ground in the Scriptures themselves, but in this case alone. In every other, such an appeal is fallacious. Those who really adhere to it will only fulfil the description of our poet :
Pervert heaven's sacred mysteries, and the truth
Though not but by the Spirit understood. Y. Z. lent us his aid, in a few pithy remarks on the difference between Mr. Faber's opinion and Augustine's, on the meaning of Cyprian, Gregory, and Ambrose ; with the natural inquiry, where we must look for “a purely evidential treatise," to fix the true sense of the fathers themselves.
Mr. Faber, in our last number, complains that he cannot understand Y. Z.'s question, and that we have unconsciously mistaken the very principle of his reasoning. He does not believe that the Scriptures are ambiguous, and the Fathers free from ambiguity. “ On all essential points,” he believes, “the Scriptures are abundantly clear to an honest inquirer. Still, as the naked fact exists that very different interpretations are put upon them, what is to be done? We must resort to external evidence, wherever we can find it, and ascertain from the Fathers, what they jointly testified the Catholic Church to have held from the beginning, as the true sense of Holy Scripture. A determined quibbler may set aside 1846.