Imágenes de páginas

its prosperity, as in truth no small founded upon an erroneous interprenumber of pious men of all sects tation of i John v. 16. This distincreally do in the present day. tion, as it has been held and applied

But to pass on, we are naturally by the Church of Rome, appears to much surprised at the custom, which us not only an idle one, but perniciprevailed in the primitive ages, of ously calculated to deceive the soul. delaying the administration of bap- If we except the sin against the Holy tism for years,—frequently even till Ghost, which, according to the most the near approach of death. In probable interpretation of our Sathe course of our author's observa. viour's words, consists in an obstitions on the penitential discipline date resistance to his influences and of the church, the following passage the evidence of sacred truth, and occurs, and it is of great impor- which may consequently be retance, as it traces the practice to garded as rather identified with its true source, illustrating the cor- final impenitence, than as consistruption of human nature, and deep ing in any single feature of transdeceitfulness of the heart.

gression, with the exception of “ The teachers, who undertook to pre- this, no sin is to be held mortal, pare the catechumens for reception at with repentance, and turning to the baptismal font, appear to have pur- God through faith in a crucified tist, and by, our blessed Lord. They Redeemer; and no sin venial withbegan by insisting on the necessity of re- out it. To teach that some sins pentance and amendment of life. "Unfor- are mortal, in the sense of unparupon the minds of their hearers was fre- donable, evidently leads to despair. quently counteracted by a fatal perversion To teach that others are venial, in of the doctrine of the church respecting the sense of being very easily forthe efficacy of baptism. In every age the given, tends equally to carelessness object of a large portion of those who and presumption. "It may be here call themselves Christians has been, to secure the benefits

without fulfilling the observed, by the way, that Tertulconditions of the Chistian covenant-to lian's works contain no allusion to obtain the rewards of righteousness with the Romish practice of auricular out sacrificing their present gratifications.

confession. When, therefore, the proselyte was told, that baptism conferred upon him who re

The doctrine of the primitive ceived it the remission of all his former church is the subject of our author's sins, he persuaded himself that he might fifth chapter. Bishop Kaye here with safety defer the work of repentance; takes a view of the several doctrines and passed the time allotted for his price of Scripture, in the order in which quiring a purity of heart and affections they occur in the Articles of our suitable to bis Christian profession;, but church. Our limits render it imin a more unrestrained

enjoyment of those possible that we should afford room worldly and sensual pleasures, in which he knew that, after baptism, he could not

for an abstract of this important indulge, without forfeiting his hopes of division of the work. We must coneternal happiness. So general had this tent ourselves with a very few exlicentious practice become, that Tertullian devotes a considerable portion of the

tracts. Tertullian supplies the foltract de Penitentiâ to the exposure of lowing information respecting the its folly and wickedness; and the historian canon of Scripture, though it may of the Roman empire might there have be observed, that the mere circumfound better arguments, than those which stance of his quoting the several he has extracted from Chrysostom, against the delay of baptism; though our author's books, here mentioned as of authoattention was not immediately directed to rity in the church, by no means that subject." pp. 247—219.

proves that he has placed them all After Tertullian became a Mon- upon an equal footing, or attritanist, he seems to have adopted buted to all that inspiration which the popish distinction of mortal we consider as the distinguishing and venial sins; a doctrine probably characteristic of holy Scripture.

" and

“ His quotations include all the Books ments will be found not a little unof the old Testament, excepting Ruth, satisfactory. the two Books of Chronicles, the Book

On the doctrines of free will and of Nehemiah, and the prophecies of Obadiah and Haggai. Of the apocryphal books justification, Tertullian also uses inhe quotes Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus; consistent language, justifying the Baruch, under the name of Jeremiah ; the remark of Milner, that “ he would Song of the three Children, under the name of Daniel; the Stories of Susannah rather quote this father as an hisand of Bell and the Dragon, and the First torian, than as a reasoner; Book of Maccabees. Ře quotes all the that his “ abilities, as an orator and books of the New Testament, excepting a scholar, have given him a reputhe Second Epistle of St. John, and perhaps the Epistle of tation to which he is by no means St. James ; for we concur in Lardner's entitled, on account of his theoloopinion that there is sufficient ground for gical knowledge." believing some words to have dropped out,

On our Seventeenth Article the towards the conclusion of the fifth Book Bishop observes, that, of Predestiference to the Epistle to Philemon. The nation, as the term is there defined, reader will find, in the fourth Book we find no trace in the writings of against Marcion, some valuable remarks Tertullian. “ The doctrine," he upon the genuineness and integrity of the Gospels. Tertullian states St. Luke to adds, " as proposed in the Article, have been the author of the Acts of the is the result of a number of texts of Apostles.” pp. 307–309.

Scripture, describing the various Our author states, that the infer- steps of a true believer's progress ence to be drawn from a compa- towards (final] salvation.” We canrison of different passages scattered not here help expressing our earnest through Tertullian's writings, is, wish, that all churchmen would that the Apostles' Creed, in its pre- contemplate our Seventeenth Arsent form, was not known to him ticle, chiefly, if not exclusively, as a summary of faith; but that under this practical and profitable the various clauses, of which it is aspect. That article does indeed composed, were generally received well describe the steps of a true as articles of faith, by orthodox Christian's progress towards heaven; Christians.

and were we to study and follow On the fundamental doctrine of those steps more than we do, we original sin, Tertullian appears to should be less forward to engage in have had defective notions; and we bitter contention about points of cannot but think that Bishop Kaye insuperable difficulty.

Whatever is too indulgent, when he says that might be our peculiar tenets rehis language, on this point, appears specting the sense in which the to differ little from our own Article. election of Scripture is to be under

The truth is, that there is great stood, we should profess those tenets inconsistency in his writings on this with mutual candour and forbearsubject. Our author observes, that ance, and aim, above all things, to we must not expect Tertullian to maintain that charity which is “the speak with the same precision of bond of peace, and of all virtues.” language, which was used by those The question, Bishop Kaye inwho wrote after the Pelagian contro- forms us, which is involved in the versy had arisen. To this, however, Eighteenth Article of our churchit may be replied, that, as a Chris- whether a heathen, who framed his tian, and especially as a theologian, life according to the light of nature, Tertullian might have justly been could be saved,-appears never to expected to speak in accordance have presented itself to Tertullian's with the word of Scripture; and mind. Had it been proposed to particularly with the third and fifth him, entertaining the opinions which chapters of the Epistle to the Ro- he did respecting the necessity of mans; and certainly, when tried by baptism to salvation, he must have this criterion, some of his state- replied in the negative.

Our next extract will throw light « The same remark applies to imageupon the progress, which had been worship and to the invocation of saints. made in Tertullian's time, towards It is

, however, impossible to read our

author's animadversions on the Gentile the errors and superstitions of Rome. idolatry, without being convinced that he It will shew that many, without would have regarded the slightest approach expressly admitting her doctrines, to image-worship with the utmost abhor

rence. had a strong, though secret, Jean

« On the other hand, we find more than ing towards them, and that the one allusion to the practice of praying and “ man of sin," was now gradually offering for the dead; and of making obraising the superstructure of that lations in honour of the martyrs, on the

anniversary of their martyrdom.” pp. 346 anti-Christian temple whose foun

319. dations had been laid even so early The following remarks on bapas the Apostolic age. From the tism, prove the superstitious notions natural tendencies of his mind, too generally entertained on this Tertullian was peculiarly disposed subject, during the earliest ages of to be favourable to tenets savouring the church, and tend to illustrate of Romish superstition. We must, the soundness of our author's views however, quite except the article of respecting the nature and necessity image-worship, which had its origin of this divine ordinance. at a later period.

“ The prevalent, perhaps the univer“ The Roman Catholic commentators, sal, opinion of the early Christians was, as we might naturally expect, are extremely that baptism was absolutely necessary to anxious to discover their doctrine of pur- salvation. This opinion they grounded gatory in the writings of Tertullian. In

upon the words of Christ to Nicodemus onr review of his tract de Animâ, we - Except a man be born of water and stated his opinion to be, that the souls the Spirit, he camot enter into the king. of ordinary Christians, immediately after dom of God.' In those days cases must death, are transferred to a place to which frequently have occurred in which persons, he gives the name of Inferi, and there suffering under severe illness, and expectremain until the general resurrection, ing the near approach of death, were when they will be re-united to their re- anxious to receive baptism ; but could not spective bodies

that while they remain procure the attendance of a regularly orthere, the souls of the good enjoy a fore- dained minister. What then was to be taste of the happiness, and the souls of done? The answer of reflecting men at the wicked of the misery, which will be the present day would probably be, that their eternal portion and that, until the then a sincere desire exists to receive soul is reunited to the body, the work of baptism, as well as the devout frame of retribution cannot be complete.. We mind necessary to its worthy reception, need scarcely observe that this opinion, the unavoidable omission of the outward which makes the final state of man a con- act will never constitute, in the sight of tinuation only of the intermediate state a merciful God, a reason for excluding just described, is directly opposed to the a believer from the benefits of the Chrisdoctrine of purgatory. It must, however, tian covenant. But Tertullian and the be admitted that there are in Tertullian's Christians of bis day reasoned otherwise: writings passages which seem to imply they were impressed with the belief that, in the interval between death and that the external rite was absolutely nethe general resurrection, the souls of cessary to salvation.” pp. 351, 352. those, who are destined to eternal happi

Mosheim has remarked, that in ness, undergo a purification from the stains which even the best men con- this century, the simplicity of the tract during their lives. Though he was, Gospel began to be corrupted, and as we have seen, fully aware of the mis- its beauty to be impaired, by the tenets of philosophy with the doctrines of misguided diligence of men, who the Gospel, he was unable to keep him- endeavoured to explain and define self entirely free from the prevalent con- the Christian system, by a refertagion; for there can be no doubt that

ence to the tenets of pagan philothe notion of a purification, which is necessary to the soul before it can be ad-sophy. With allusion to this ob. mitted to the happiness of heaven, is of servation of the German historian, Platonic origin.

Bishop Kaye says, that “there ap“Of pardons, in the sense in which the word is used in our Twenty-secand pears to have been a process of the Article, there is no mention in Tertullian's following kind. The tenets of the writings.

·philosophers were first employed in illustration or amplification of the “ Abuses,” he says, “ did exist, doctrines of the Gospel; and pas- but neither so numerous nor SO sages of Scripture were afterwards flagrant as the enemies of the Goperverted, in order to defend the no- spel, and Tertulliao himself

, after tions which resulted from this mix. he became a Montanist, alleged.”_ ture of heathenism and Christianity.' Tertullian alludes to the custom of This leaven of pagan philosophy having sponsors, who made, in the gradually, as we know, leavened the name of the children brought to the whole mass of the visible church of font, those promises which they Christ, till, in the dark ages which were unable to make for themselves. followed the establishment of the An important testimony this to the religion under Constantine, heathen prevalence of infant baptism, in the inventions became so predominant, early church, and antecedently to as to leave but little of the savour of the time of Cyprian, whose authopure and scriptural religion. What rity has been so ably and unanà proof does this afford of the swerably urged by Wall, Milner, and need which there was for the Apo- others, in support of the primitive stle's warning, “ Beware lest any antiquity of this rite. Bishop Kaye man spoil you through philosophy proves that Tertullian knew nothing and vain ceit, after the tradition of the popish doctrine of transubof men, after the rudiments of the stantiation, though, from some glowworld, and not after Christ."

ing expressions which occur in his We cannot afford room for any works respecting the communion, extracts illustrative of Tertullian's the Romish writers have endeaopinions on the subject of amuse- voured to enlist him on their side. ments, or of marriage. After he The following short passage throws became a Montanist, he appears to light on the anointing of the sick have held, on the latter topic, opi- with oil, alluded to by St. James, pions extravagantly ascetic, though and completely deprives the Papist he had been himself married ;- of any Apostolical authority for the opinions wholly unwarranted by the practice of extreme unction. word of God, and highly dangerous “ Tertullian, as we have seen, states to the morals of society.

that a Christian, named Proculus, cured We pass on to notice briefly the the Emperor Severus of a disorder, by sixth chapter, on the ceremonies of whether

we ought to infer from this statethe church. This chapter contains, ment that a practice then subsisted in the among much other important mat- church, of anointing sick persons with oil, ter, some curious and valuable in- founded on the injunction in the Epistle

of St. James. This, however, is certain, formation respecting the forms ob- that the practice, if it subsisted, was diserved in prayer, the fasts kept in rectly opposed to the Romish sacrament the church, the monastic life, the of extreme unction; which is administered,

not with a view to the recovery of the paagape, or feast of charity, the cere

tient, but when his case is hopeless.” monies used in baptism, infant baptism, and the eucharist. In page 411,

We shall close our view of this Bishop Kaye happily answers an chapter with some of the Right Reveobjection against forms of prayer, rend prelate's very judicious remarks which has been founded on a pas- relative to fasting and the monastic sage in Tertullian's Apology. Con- life. The length of the extract will cerning the agape he remarks in be justified by the importance of the a truly Christian spirit, that “we

matter. cannot but participate in the regret

“Fasting, as it was originally practised expressed by Dr. Hey, that scandal in the church, was regarded as a means to should have occasioned the discon: a moral end; as a means, peculiarly fitted tinuance of an entertainment so

both to the circumstances and to the na

ture of man, of nourishing in him those entirely consonant to the bene. feelings of contrition and self-abasement, volent spirit of the Gospel." and of enabling him to acquire that mastery

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pp. 459, 460.

urer and

over his sensual appetites, which are es- themselves-as procuring by their intrinsential elements in the composition of the sic efficacy, remission of sin and restoration Christian character. When, at the season to the favour of God. appointed by the church for the commemo- “ To the same causes, which led men ration of the passion of Christ, its mem- into the errors now described respecting bers, amongst other external observancés, the merit of fasting, may be traced the designed to express their lively, sense of erroneous opinions which were gradually their own unworthiness, and of the deadly introduced, respecting the superior sanctity nature of sin which could be expiated only of the monastic and eremetical modes of by so great a sacrifice-abstained also from life. No man, who has reflected upon the their customary meals and recreations; constitution of his own nature and believes surely the most enlightened reason must that he is destined to exist in a approve the motive of their abstinence; more spiritual state, can doubt the utility, and admit as well its suitableness to the or rather necessity, of occasional retirefallen condition of man, as its tendency to ment and seclusion; for the purposes of encourage a devout and humble temper. self-examination, and of securing to reTo these considerations we may add, that, ligion that paramount influence over the from the mixed constitution of man's na- thoughts and affections, which is liable to ture and the intimate union which subsists be weakened, or even destroyed, by a conbetween his soul and body, the occasional stant intercourse with the world. Here restraints, which the primitive Christians then was a reasonable motive to induce voluntarily imposed upon themselves in Christians, wisely anxious for their own respect of food and amusement, could salvation, to withdraw themselves, at scarcely fail to have a beneficial operation stated intervals, from worldly pleasures, upon their character ; were it only by in- and cares, and occupations. The freterrupting for a time their ordinary habits, quency with which those intervals recurand reminding them that the objects of red would depend in each case upon the sense possessed neither the sole, nor the temper of the individual. Men of an principal, claim to their attention. A life austere and unsocial, as well as those of of habitual indulgence, even when that in- an enthusiastic character, would naturally dulgence leads not to positive excess, is run into excess; and contend that, if occafavourable neither to intellectual nor spiri- sional seclusion was thus favourable to the tual improvement. It enfeebles our men- growth of religion in the soul, the benefits tal powers : it deadens our moral percep- to be derived from total seclusion must be tions: it tends especially to render us proportionably greater ;-in a word, that selfish and regardless of the wants and the most effectual mode of securing their feelings of others. But when experience virtue against the temptations of the also tells us that such a course of life termi. world was to quit it altogether. The denates almost invariably in excess, no further ference paid in the church to the authority argument can be wanting to prove the of Plato contributed to give currency and reasonableness and utility of occasional weight to these opinions. One principle abstinence-if used only as a means to an of his philosophy was, that the visible end-to invigorate the moral principle things around us are only the fleeting and within us, and to promote humility of fallacious images of those eternal, immut.. temper and purity of heart. Unhappily, able ideas, which alone possess a real exhowever, for the church, from the pro- istence. The business, therefore, of him pensity of the human mind to run into ex- who wishes to arrive at the knowledge of tremes—from an increasing fondness for the truth, and to elevate bis nature to the the tenets of the Platonic philosophy—and perfection of which it is capable, must be an indiscriminate imitation of what is re- to abstract his mind from his senses-encorded in Scripture of holy men, who, tirely to exclude from his observation being placed in extraordinary circum- those forms of perishable matter which stances, were never designed to be held serve only to bewilder and lead him astray, up as examples, in all points of their con- and to give himself up to the contempladuct, to ordinary Christians from the tion of the ideal world. These speculative combined operation of all these causes; notions, originally derived from the Plafasting, instead of being considered as a tonic school, no sooner gained a footing in salutary discipline, or as a means to holi- the church, than they were reduced to ness, came to be regarded as holiness it- practice. Men began to affect a life of self. The piety of men was estimated by solitude and contemplation, and to deem the frequency and severity of their fasts. all intercourse with the world a positive In proportion as they subjected themselves hindrance to the attainment of that spirito greater privations and hardships, they tual elevation at which the Christian ought acquired a higher reputation for sanctity. to aim. Overlooking the clear intimations A species of rivalry was thus excited; new supplied by the constitution of their own and strange methods were invented of nature, that man is designed for societymacerating and torturing their bodies; overlooking the express declarations of till at length extravagance in practice led Scripture and the example of our blessed to error in doctrine; fasts and mortifica. Lord, whose ministry was one continued tions were regarded as meritorious in course of active benevolence; they took

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