Page images
PDF
EPUB

II.

"St. Ignatius........ addresses his most celebrated epistle to the Church, which he says, presides in the country of the Romans.”. ."-End of Controv. p. 332. Where else could it be expected to preside? If it had been described as presiding elsewhere, and every where, the quotation would have been to the purpose.

"About the same time, dissensions taking place in the Church of Corinth, the case was referred to the Church of Rome, to which the holy Pope Clement, whose name is written inthe book of life'-Philipp. iv. 3, returned an Apostolic answer of exhortation and instruction." Ib. To this I reply article by article. —1. There is no mention in the epistle of Clement, or elsewhere, of any case having been referred by the Church of Corinth to the Church of Rome, for decision. 2. It is by no means certain, that the epistle was written by that Clement, whose name is in the book of life,' or even in his age. 3. The epistle is, after all, one merely of counsel and advice, as from equals to equals; and is inconsistent with the supposition of a superiority of jurisdiction.

"In the second century, St. Irenæus calls it (the Church of Rome) the greatest, most ancient, and most universally known, as having been founded by St. Peter and St. Paul." It was, in truth, the greatest; it was complimentary, but false, to style it the most ancient ;-

it was the most universally known ;—“ to which (he says) every Church is bound to conform, by reason of its superior authority." Ib. 333.

Dr. Milner must have known, that neither the context of Irenæus, nor the words of his illiterate translator, will bear him out in any such interpretation; and the reader will have perceived, that in page 81 of the End of Controversy, this very passage of Irenæus is, for a different purpose, translated by Dr. Milner himself in a quite different sense! The object in p. 84, is to prove the authority of the Romish Traditions; and then Irenæus is made to say: - WITH THIS CHURCH ALL OTHERS AGREE, inasmuch as in her is preserved the Tradition, which comes down from the Apostles." In p. 333, the object is to prove the Supremacy of the Roman See; and then the same Irenæus, in the same passage, is made to declare," TO WHICH EVERY CHURCH IS BOUND TO CONFORM, BY REASON OF ITS SUPERIOR AUTHORITY"! In what terms, I ask, does Dr. Milner deserve to be addressed ?-It is necessary to set the passage before the reader, in order to shew, that it is capable of neither of the meanings, which Dr. Milner has chosen to affix to it, as best suited his purpose; and what is more, that he has omitted the very words of the Father, which completely destroy his own inference.-" Ad hanc enim, ecclesiam (Romanam), propter potiorem principalitatem, necesse est omnem convenire Ecclesiam; hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles; in qua semper ab his, qui sunt undique,

conservata est ea, quæ est ab Apostolis Traditio." Advers. Hæres. lib. 3. c. 3.

There is much in this passage which is obscure, and its meaning has been long disputed; but these circumstances are unworthy of being alluded to by Dr. Milner, in his two-fold interpretation. Translate, however, as the idiom of the language requires us to translate, "ad hanc enim Ecclesiam necesse est omnem convenire Ecclesiam ;"" to this Church, every Church must necessarily resort," instead of "is bound to conform;"-and the testimony of Irenæus immediately assumes a different complexion. It was, perhaps, felt, that there was an awkwardness in describing one Church as repairing to another, and, therefore, the expression seems to be purposely qualified by the words that follow;-hoc est, eos, qui sunt undique fideles ; that is, the individual members of Churches from all the regions round about," whose occasions led them to Rome, on matters of religious or civil business. On Dr. Milner's interpretation, the explanatory words are superfluous. They were in his way, and he, therefore, thought proper to omit them.

But, what necessity for Christians from different parts of the world to resort to the Roman Church? The reason assigned is-" propter potiorem principalitatem." The expression, is ambiguous, and Dr. Milner was bound in fairness to have made the acknowledgement. “Principalitatis vocabulum," says Mosheim, “quum, ambiguum sit, et ad complures

res accommodari queat; Irenæus vero, saltim Latinus interpres ejus non indicet, quodnam principalitatis genus intelligat, tota ejus sententia in tenebris jacet." That it will not admit of Dr. Milner's interpretation, "by reason of its superior authority," meaning the supreme jurisdiction of the See, is evident from the context. The confirmation of Scriptural truth by mere Tradition (since the Heretics refused to be judged by Scripture itself;) was the matter in question; and the superior strength of evidence for the orthodox Traditions which agreed with the written word, consisted in their having been uniformly preserved at all times, in the Apostolic Churches. In this agreement of the testimony, the whole force of the appeal lay.

But, to have made the authority of the Tradition to consist in the obligation of conformity with the Romish Church, which obligation the heretics did not acknowledge; (for if they had acknowledged it, there would have been an end of the question, and no necessity for appealing to the testimony of the other Churches) is to make Irenæus employ no better an argument than this:-You must receive our Traditions, because the Church of Rome, by reason of her superior authority, says you must receive them.

*The explanation of the passage given in pp. 163, 164, from Chillingworth, is more probable than any other; and it agrees with the context.

I cannot help on this occasion, repeating to Dr. Milner the words, already quoted, of a member of his own communion. "It is disgraceful to Divines, who are acquainted merely with the first elements of religion, to found their dogmas upon passages, of which the mere variety of interpretation, ought to have been sufficient to make them feel, the uncertainty and weakness of such a proof for their pretended article of faith."

6

Again, "Tertullian, a priest of the Roman Church, calls St. Peter, the rock of the Church, and says, that the Church was built upon him." Jesus Christ had foretold the same; but the Scriptures and the Fathers say, not him alone, "Speaking of the Bishop of Rome, he terms him, in different places, the blessed Pope, the High Priest, the Apostolic Prelate,' &c. Quid ad rem? He might have said the same of every Prclate in an Apostolic See. If Dr. Milner will take a hint, he will let Tertullian alone. He has already grossly misrepresented, or mistaken, his argument respecting Tradition; and I may now tell him on better authority than my own; "Ex hoc qui Ecclesiarum veterum inæqualitatem, et potestatem A postolicarum judicialem, probari posse confidunt, MAXIMopere fallunTUR." Mosheim de Reb. Christian: sæc.

prim. s. 48. vide notam.

It is true, that both Victor and Stephanus were arrogant enough to withdraw themselves from the communion of those Churches, which

« PreviousContinue »