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means the Romish) " and common sense" (he means the concealment practised by the heathens)" than many persons seem to suppose." Anaxagoras, Thales, Socrates, taught their disciples by word of mouth, not by writing." His inference must be, that they had all an isoteric doctrine. "The same
practice was observed by Pythagoras... with this difference, that he took more care than the others, that the secrets of his science should not be divulged."" The Egyptian Sages had their secrets. Plato thought, that whatever was most important in science," should not be written. "Lysias, the Pythagorean, accused Hipparchus of revealing to the crowd the secret of his science."
This idle display of school-boy lore is pitiable; the assimilating of the method of instruction practised by inspired Apostles, to the secret doctrines of the heathen philosophers is abominable. If in professing to tell us the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as it is held by their Church, the Roman Catholic Priesthood keep back from us the life and essence of their creed; and, if we are to believe J. K. L. that this is a necessary part of the "ecclesiastical economy" that clause in our tests, which abjures any 66 equivocation,
ticis et Christianis? Nostra institutio de porticu Solomonis est, qui et ipse tradiderat, Dominum in simplicitate cordis esse quærendum. Viderint, qui Stoicum et Platonicum, & Dialecticum Christianismum protulerunt. De Præs: hæret cap. 7.
mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever," is more necessary to be retained than some perhaps have imagined.
But I will not take it on his word, that the Tradition of his Church is an abomination, which hides its face in conclaves and consistories. I think better of his Priesthood, and of the progress of intellect amongst them. If such, however, be their doctrines, they deserve to be deprived, not only of political privileges, but of social intercourse. We converse not on equal terms;-no, it is his own confusedness, I am persuaded, which affixes this stigma on his communion. But let him be disavowed-let us hear no more of the disciplina arcani of the fathers, or of the double doctrines of the heathen mystagogues, as prototypes of the traditionary doctrine of the Romish Church.
Romish Proof of the Divine Authority of Tra dition from the Testimony of the Fathers.
The proof of the divine authority of Tradition drawn from the testimony of the Fathers, is that on which the Romanists principally depend. Before entering into the examination of the passages adduced from their writings, it may be useful to make a few observations, on the character of these witnesses, and the bearing of their testimony on the Romish claims; and to point out the kind of evidence which was alone appealed to by the Primitive Church, in proof of Apostolic Traditions.
Now, there is an indistinct and irresistible feeling of reverence excited in the minds of Romanists by the very name of the Fathers, which encircles their opinions with a lower degree of supernatural authority. They dare not pronounce them to be inspired, and yet they attach to their writings a credit, beyond what is due to compositions merely human. It must, indeed, be granted, that they who bear the name of Apostolic Fathers, were placed, by their proximity to the source of revelation,
in situations very favourable for ascertaining the real views and sentiments of the first promulgators of christianity. But it must be also said, as well on account of the internal character of the writings under their name, as of the doubts which hang over the genuineness of these writings, that their testimony, as it has come down to us, labours under very just suspicions.This is, at least, certain," says the annotator of Michaelis, "that passages are found in these writings, which from the nature of the subject, could not have existed in the first century; and if they prove not the whole to be spurious, they prove, at least, that these writings have been so interpolated, as to make it difficult to distinguish what is genuine from what is false." Does it not, then, furnish matter of just surprise, to find Dr. Milner, and after him his copyist, J. K. L. quoting Clemens Romanus, and Ignatius, and Polycarp, (though their reputed works, after all, contain nothing which, when rightly interpreted, is favourable to the Romish cause) with as much unsuspecting confidence, as if the genuineness of the writings ascribed to them, was one of the most incontestable facts of ecclesiastical history.
But, whatever credit may be due to the Apostolic Fathers, as having lived in times bordering on the age of inspiration, and whatever opinion may be formed of the genuineness of their reputed works, many of their successors were placed at a great distance
from the source of truth, and were indifferently qualified, either by natural sagacity, or by literary attainments, or even by impartiality, for acquiring and transmitting accurate information. And yet the Romanists are accustomed to speak of the whole body of the Fathers, in the character of a single witness; as if it could be proved, that their testimony was consentient, and as if all of them were entitled to an equal degree of credit. Certain passages are selected from their writings, which, on the Romanists' interpretation, are supposed to make for their cause; whilst others, far more numerous, are passed by wholly unnoticed, which would either overthrow their claims, or invalidate the testimony of their own witnesses. By this kind of process, the Romish conclusion, founded on the testimony of the Fathers, is extracted.
It is certain, however, that these writings possess very different degrees of merit, and are entitled to very different degrees of confidence so that what would be credible on the authority of one Father, is worthy of little or no regard, when asserted by another. Some of the Fathers appear to have hastily taken on trust, what others had said before them; and their testimony cannot, therefore, be considered as the result of deliberate judgment, or of independent enquiry. "Philo imitatur Ægyptios, Clemens Philonem suam ; Clementem et Philonem Origenes; hunc reliqui Christianorum doctores, sed non omnes ta