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their time laboured in the word of God, so should we in our age labour in the same. There is one vineyard, but different workmen of various hours ; yet all laboured in the vineyard itself, and not on the tools and pruning-knives of the workmen. It is enough to have learned of the Fathers the diligent study of labouring in the Scriptures. It is not needful that every thing they have wrought be approved, since even diligence sometimes may not grant to several, what opportunity alone, and some impulse of the Spirit gives even to one.
"By the example, then, of St. Bernard, let us rather drink from the fountain itself than from the streams; otherwise, if we must trust doctors only, and they may not be called to the tribunal of Scripture, why do we not discard the Holy Oracles as superfluous, and too obscure for us to understand them ? By the same pattern we may next reject the Fathers themselves, the scholastic theologians, plainer as they pretend, being received in their room; till rejecting these also, we shall have for our guides Aristotle, and whoever is most remote from the sacred writings and the Fathers; as in truth we have had, and have still. Then forsooth we shall not merely not interpret Scriptures by an insulated private spirit, but we shall have remaining nothing except a private spirit, and the Scriptures be altogether unknown, and shall be tossed without end in the whirlwinds and storms of our own opinions, as it is this day.”
We trust that our honoured correspondent will acquit us, in those observations, of all feelings but deep regard, and an earnest desire that his talents and learning may be employed, purely and entirely, on the side of Scripture truth; and that his dread of insulated private judgment may not lead him unconsciously, and contrary to his own deliberate convictions, into a practical exaltation of fallible writings above the sure word and testimony of the living God.
CHURCHMAN'S MONTHLY REVIEW
THE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. By the Rev. FRANCIS CLOSE, A.M. London: Hatchards, 1846.
quietly all take sold of;five hint Incum
This is, beyond all doubt, the most unfortunate production that ever emanated from the excellent Incumbent of Cheltenham ; and the best advice we can give him, is, that when the first edition shall have been sold off, (which of course will shortly be the case,) - he will take care that the work be not reprinted; but will quietly consign it to oblivion. We advise this, not expecting him to be rapidly converted from the view which he now holds, to the opposite, -or a full confession and recantation would be his duty;
-but from a conviction that in this little publication he has placed both himself and the system which he advocates, in a very unfavourable light. The faults we find with the book are these three:
1. He has rested the whole argument on ground which it is most undesirable, in these days of Tractarian and Romish error, that any sincere Protestant should take.
2. He has utterly blundered, and that in the most inconceivable manner, on a dry point of history, in stating what he terms " the faith of the Catholic or Universal Church of all ages.”
3. His appeal to Scripture, which of course he does not forget or omit, is not conducted in the only legitimate and proper mode;
-i. e., he does not take all Scripture into his view, and submit with equal reverence to every part of it.
At the first opening, then, we have to object,—and this is our chief reason for entering this immediate protest,—against the ground on which he has chosen to rest his case. So serious do we consider this error to be, that we feel sure that even victory in the argument would be no compensation for the damage inflicted on the Protestant cause by his mode of arguing.
The citadel of Protestantism in the present day, over which it is needful to keep a constant watch, is, SCRIPTURE ALONE, as the sole rule of Faith. Here only we are safe and invincible. Hence the constant attempts of Papists and Tractarians, to draw us out of this stronghold. Scripture and Tradition, proposes the Papist; -Scripture and Antiquity, suggests the Tractarian. And here comes in the one error of Mr. Faber, (recently adverted to) by which he mistakenly passes the Protestant boundary, and proposes, “ Scripture as interpreted by the early Fathers.”
We doubt if Mr. Close is quite prepared to enlist under Mr. Faber's standard, or to give up the only safe standing, SCRIPTURE ALONE. But he has unwarily (we imagine) been led by controversial eagerness, to conduct his present argument on unsafe
He begins, indeed, and we are sure that he begins honestly and sincerely, by appealing to Scripture, as the sole rule. He says
“Here we must follow step by step God's written word. It is a matter of pure revelation. For if we know absolutely nothing, even of the future moment, how much less do we know of the grand consummation of all things !-it is an entire blank, except so far as God has been pleased to reveal it to us in his Holy Word. It becomes therefore a matter of interpretation of scripture ; and since there are diversities of opinion in the church, and have been in bye-gone days, even with respect to the great Catholic doctrines of the second personal coming of Christ, and of the final judgment, it becomes us—with all wisdom, with all humility, and with earnest prayer to the Divine Teacher, that we may be led and guided into all truth,- to search the Holy Scriptures, to know what this second coming of Christ may mean, and what this glorified Saviour will do when he comes."-(p. 8.)
So far Mr. Close is perfectly orthodox, and we should gladly have followed him through an enquiry so carried out. But, unhappily, he has stepped off from this safe footing, and has repeatedly appealed to another principle, on which both Papist and Tractarian will be only too glad to meet him.
For immediately after this simple appeal to Scripture, we find Mr. Close dropping the use of all such Protestant language, and beginning to talk as a Wiseman or a Palmer would wish to hear him. Only two pages after the passage we have quoted, he says, “ We are met by a variety of interpretations, hostile, as we humbly " believe, to the faith of the Catholic or universal church of all “ ages.” (p. 10.) Then—" entrenched as we are in the Catholic
“ truth, and in the doctrines and writings of our church.” (p. 11.) Then—" what I must denominate Catholic Truth.” Then—"a “ system irreconcileable with many great, grand, Catholic truths.” (p. 13.) Then—" Opposed to this is the general view of the “ Church, which has been held in all ages by the Church as a « church.” (p. 13.) Then—" all Catholic commentators admit." (p. 20.) Then—" the Church of England holds the Catholic doc“trine.” (p. 27.) Then—"The general, contemporaneous, resur" rection of the dead,”—“ is one of those great Catholic doctrines “ which have been held by the universal Church from the begin“ning.” (p. 32.) Then—" to call upon us to give up the great " Catholic doctrine of holy scripture and of the Church of God in « all ages,"_"and to ask the universal Church to make a Catho“ lic doctrine bend.” (p. 47.) And, at the close, “ Such views “ may teach us to depart with caution from Catholic truth.” (p. 123.) "Thus, while Mr. Close begins with resting upon what is Scriptural, he soon turns aside to what is Catholic; and makes this appeal so often, and so confidently, that one is forced to suppose, that he means to rest upon it. Let us ask, then, whether this constant reference to what is “ Catholic," is meant as an argument; or merely as what the lawyers call “ an observation ?" 1
If Mr. Close makes his appeal to Catholic consent, and rests upon it, then he is, we trust only for a moment, gone from us, and joined either to Mr. Faber, or to Mr. Palmer. He either holds with Mr. Faber, that Scripture alone is insufficient, and that we must have “the recorded consent of Primitive Antiquity” before we can maintain any doctrine : Or else, with Mr. Newman of 1842, and Mr. Palmer now, he maintains the dogma of Vincentius,—the Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, as the test of sound doctrine.
But perhaps Mr. Close may refuse to take up either of these positions,-may aver that he remains a Protestant still ;-adheres to Scripture alone as the sole Rule of Faith ; and merely used these phrases, concerning “ Catholic Truth,"_" the Catholic Faith," and the like, as observations,-passing remarks,-meant to influence the reader's mind, without committing the writer to the Popish error which they seem to imply.
If this be all the meaning which Mr. Close attaches to the phrases in question, then we most sincerely wish that he had
Lawyers, who conduct their controversies according to certain definite rules, always distinguish between an argument, or precedent, which must affect the decision ; and a remark or observation, which can only affect the favour or disfavour with which the case is viewed.
avoided the use of this illegitimate weapon. It is true that in newspapers and magazines this sort of device is in daily use, but it should be banished from the pulpit. The newspaper declaimer protests that “ the People demand,” or “expect " or " rely on " such or such a concession. The meaning is, such of the people as think as he does ;—all others being, for the nonce, treated as if non-existent. The man of science, in his journal or review, will just as bravely declare, that " all competent judges,—all men of discernment, have long since agreed on such or such a point,”— meaning as before, such as think with him,—and dismissing all opponents as if unconscious of their existence. And so,-if these phrases are not meant argumentatively, -80 does Mr. Close here quietly assume, Mine is the Catholic Faith,--mine is the orthodox belief,—all others are heterodox, or at best,“ mere private opinions."
We can hardly imagine that Mr. Close used these phrases as mere polemical missiles with which to pelt his opponents. We fear that he did, for the moment, quit the Protestant citadel, and adopt the belief that what was “ the catholic doctrine of the Church of all ages," must be the true one. Let us, if this be his notion, use one of his own arguments, and remind him, that “ there is one “ kind of testimony against this notion left in the authorized “ documents of our church ; and that is a negative testimony." “ In vain do we search through” the standards of our Church, for such a word or such an idea, as “ the faith of the universal church of all ages.”
It has been remarked, and there is great weight in the observation,—that when the Church, in her VIIIth Article, formally adopts the Three Creeds, she carefully avoids the reason which was most obvious, and which any Roman Catholic would instantly have given, -" because they have been universally received in the “ Church,”—and adduces, as the real ground of her reception of them, not, that they contain " the faith which has been held in all ages,”—but that, " they may be proved by most certain warrant “ of holy Scripture."
And, so far from treating “ the faith of all ages” as something sacred,—she broadly asserts, in her XIXth Article, that Rome and Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch, have all erred, not only in ceremonies,“ but also in matters of faith." While, of General Councils she declares, that they “ may err” and “have erred," and that their decisions have no authority, except they be “ taken out of holy Scripture.”
No countenance, then, can Mr. Close obtain from his own Church, for his appeal to “ the faith of the Catholic Church in all
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