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many of its positions were framed the same time it makes the superimerely to oppose certain existing ority of modern dogmatics to be errors, or to prevent some prevail. clearly seen. It shows incontestiing abuses. How then is it possi- bly, how much the moderns excel ble for us to understand the system the ancients in clearness of definiof theology and all its several po- tion, and strength of reasoning, in sitions, without knowing the occa- a juster separation of the important sions and the causes of forining the from the unimportant, and of the individual parts, and the many al- certain from the problematical, as terations and changes by which the well as in lucidness of method, and system finally became what it is ? in the practical bearing of their It is not in our power, for example, discussions. Thus while dogmatic to comprehend perfectly the doc- history enables us to compare more trinal views of the reformers, with accurately and impartially the anout comparing them with the tenets cient divines with the modern, it of those from whom they separated, teaches us to appreciate the superiand with the dogmas of the scho- ority of the latter, without doing inlastics whom they opposed. Thus justice to the former. dogmatic history shows us how and III. Important as this use of dogwherefore the several articles came matic history is, it is surpassed by to occupy their respective places in another. For, by means of this our creed ; and in this way, it leads history, we are able, more easily, us to view them in a proper atti- to separate genuine Christianity tude. Nor is this all; it teaches from its spurious appendages. By us to appreciate correctly the the professed followers of Jesus, merits of the ancient, as well as of his doctrines have been variously the modern theologians. It is a obscured, disfigured, and adulteracommon fault of this age, to under- ted with foreign mixtures. The value the ancient writers, and to reformation in the sixteenth centuexpress astonishment at their sup. ry by the protestants purged away posed weakness and blunders. - indeed, many of the corruptions inFor instance, many a man now ri- troduced by ignorance and superdicules the subtilty of the scholastic stition, and sanctified by spiritual doctors, who, had he lived in their despotism ; and yet I dare to affirm, age would scarcely have been em- that since this beneficial reformaployed by them as a transcriber. tion in theology, much still remains From such rash decisions dogma- that needs amendment. Now the tic history is a preservative. It way to prosecute successfully furshows us just how far the ancient ther reformation, is pointed out by theologians proceeded, and why dogmatic history. For this discovthey, from the circumstances of the ers to us the sources and origin of times and various impediments, many innovations in theology, and could not effect what our age, the means by which they obtained mounted on the shoulders of prece- currency ; and thus it enables us ding ages, is able to accomplish. to judge better what to hold fast as The materials were first to be col- belonging to genuine Christianity, lected and severally wrought, then and what to reject as useless and out of them system after system must prejudicial. be built up and pulled down, till Yet, not to coverrate the value of finally the proper pieces were duly dogmatic history, I must say, that united in a firm and abiding system. historical investigation is rather a Dogmatic history does justice to the preparation for distinguishing beold theologians, by showing that tween the doctrines of Jesus and much of what is advanced in mod- foreign principles, than the full ern times as new, is not new. At accomplishment of the object.--
Against the Catholic church in- subsequent age. But, granting all deed, it is of peculiar service ; for this to be true, if we cannot regard a church which boasts of the har- dogmatic history as the infallible mony of its opinions with all Christ- touchstone of what is and what is ian antiquity, which asserts that it not genuine Christianity, still it is a has preserved unchanged through valuable help to come at this object. all ages the primitive Christian For if any particular doctrine can be faith, can be confuted in no better shown to have first made its ap, way, than by showing from history pearance in later times, if the susthat precisely the distinguishing picious source from which it flowed doctrines of this church were un can be pointed out, and also the known to the early Christians, and cause which gave it currency as a that they were first invented and Christian doctrine, there is good became current in times of igno- ground to suspect that it was ori. rance and superstition. The re- ginally no part of the religion of formers therefore, and the polemic Christ. I grant that this amounts writers generally, could justly em- only to a suspicion. For a doctrine ploy such reasoning against the of real Christianity may have been Catholics. Yet dogmatic history long buried in obscurity, and at cannot alone prove decisively that length have come to light ;-it may any doctrine is, or is not, a part of have been brought forward too in a genuine Christianity. For, if you very unsatisfactory manner, and regard a doctrine as belonging to have been maintained by very un. Christianity because it was embra- lawful means; and after all, upon ced and taught by the Christians of an impartial examination, be found the first centuries, you must forget to be true and useful. How often that the first Christians who receiv- does a person or an age, by mere ed their instruction from Jesus chance, stumble upon a discovery, Christ and his apostles, were con- which could not have been expectverts from either Judaism or pagan ed! Still, such a suspicion should ism, and that they retained many of admonish us to be cautious, to go their former conceptions, which be- into a more full examination, and it came blended with their new faith, can be set at rest only by exegeticand which were afterwards propa. al and critical investigations. gated in the Christian church as IV. But were all the advantages parts of its faith; in short, you now mentioned of less importance must hold to a traditional creed, than they truly are, yet dogmatic the entire purity of which it will be history would be valuable, because difficult to make out. On the it is suited to bring a theologian other hand, I cannot maintain that into precisely that state of mind a doctrine is always forthwith to be which he most needs, in order to expunged from the list of Christ's success in his vocation. From what doctrines, if it should appear that source has theology hitherto reit was not known or not embraced ceived greater injury than from the in the first centuries after Christ. bigotry and enthusiasm which have For the writers of the first centu- caused men to engage in controries, whose works have reached us, versy with unbending obstinacy, do not merit the praise of being and to attack or defend an opinion competent and happy expositors; with the fury of a warrior determin. and it is therefore not impossible, ed to conquer or die in the battle? nor indeed improbable, that some This has ever been followed by the declarations of Christ and his apos- never-failing consequence, that the tles were misapprehended, perhaps contested points were discussed on for centuries, till at length their one side only, and all opposing artrue import was discovered in a guments were disregarded. The
calm and unbiased state of mind which they found to be dangerous so necessary to the careful weigh- to religion, and leading evidently to ing of arguments and objections, scepticisin, or to some worse evil. and which alone can secure a man Now a person conversant with hisfrom precipitate and rash judgment, tory will see nothing strange in is wholly lost. Now the best pre- these occurrences. For he well servative against this bigotry and knows that men have ever mingled blind zeal, is the study of dogmatic philosophy with religion ; and that history. Whoever has there trac- every attempt at a new combination ed the revolutions in opinion, which produced at first a great ferment. were often as sudden as those in He also knows, that as well the the fashion of garments --whoever patrons of the new systems, as the has there learned, that what one adherents of the old ones, have alage held for incontrovertible truth, ways gone to extremes, in the bea following age rejected as error, ginning of their conflict; but when will begin modestly to distrust the the heat of the battle subsided a judgments of men, and of course little, both parties began slowly to his own also. He will not suffer come nearer to each other. And himself, without examination, to be in the present instance, as an imborne along the current of an age partial looker on, he will cherish whose faith is bigotry. The au- the single wish, that theologians thority of venerated names will not would be grateful for the important fetter him, for he has learned from hints and illustrations which Kant history how little value to attach has given them; but without aleven to the decrees of vast synods lowing their respect for a great of bishops. Nor will the brilliancy man to shackle their minds and of novelty dazzle him ; for he has make them blind copyists, without often noticed, that what was brought marring their interpretations by phia forward as new, was not so ; and losophical subtilties, and without that what pleased all, while new, burdening their public discourses soon became discarded
with unintelligible words; for the A recent occurrence in the the history of the Wolfian philosophy ological world may confirm these proves that such things will not observations. When the great phi- meet the applause, but the censure losopher of Konigsberg subjected of succeeding ages. I would thereto a more rigorous criticism the fore recommend dogmatic history prevailing systems of philosophy, to the young theologian, for the and began to lay the foundation purpose of guarding him against a for a new one, as soon as applica- bigoted zcal for any opinions or tion was made of his principles to sects, and of making him capable theology, that enthusiasm of which of enlightened and just views in I have spoken, was strikingly man- theology. For it will be one of the ifest. Some, transported with ad- hest preservatives against that miration at the critical philosophy shortsighted bigotry which infalli-. and its founder, could discover bly attends a theorizing divine, Kantian ideas all through the New who, ignorant of what has been Testament; and they looked upon said and done by others, thinks he no public discourses as solid and can accomplish every thing merely sound, unless the new terminology by his own sagacity, or--what is glittered along its periods; and still worse-by following out the whoever doubted any principle of system of his master. the new philosophy, was regarded With the last mentioned advan. with contempt, as if he lacked tage of dogmatic history, the folcommon sense. Others were equal- lowing is closely connected, namely zealous against this philosophy, ly, that it reprovey a contentious
spirit, and disposes us to be tole- others which have a similar bearing rant towards those who differ from might be added from the same author. us. Whoever has carefully studied
S. R. the ever varying conceptions of “As to a primacy, importing sumen, and their causes, is sensi
periority in power, command, or ble how much men's judgments
jurisdiction ; this by the Roman and opinions depend on particular
party is asserted to St. Peter, but circumstances, and on the attitude
we have great reason to deny it, in which objects are presented to
upon the following considerations. their minds. It will be clear to
I be clear to. For such a power (being of so him, from abundant experience, great importance it was needful that it is next to impossible that that a commission from God, its men differing in talents, degrees of Founder. should be granted in education, and rank in society, downright and perspicuous terms ; should have precisely the same
that no man concerned in duty views ; and that it is unreasonable
grounded thereon, might have any to require of others, that they should
doubt of it, or excuse for boggling see with our eyes, and exchange at it: it was necessary not only for their own modes of thinking for
the apostles, to bind and warrant ours. Thus dogmatic history leads their obedience, but also for us, beto amicable feelings and a discreet
cause it is made the sole foundaforbearance towards others, even tion of a like duty incumbent on us, though their opinions, according to our conceptions, are very ill found without being assured of our oblied. The examples it affords, of
gation thereto, by clear revelation, the melancholy effects resulting or promulgation of God's will in from a dominion over men's
the Holy Scripture ; for it was of faith, and from attempts to dictate old a current, and ever will be a to men what they must believe, true rule, which St. Austin in one inculcate more forcibly than any
case thus expresseth, “ I do believe precepts can, the apostolic exhorta
that also on this side there would tion, aanSever ev ayamn, to hold the be most clear authority of the di. truth in love.
vine oracles, if a man could not be Without fear that he will be dis
ignorant of it without damage of appointed, therefore, we can assure his salvation;" and Lactantius thus, the young theologian, that the study “ Those things can have no founof dogmatic history will well re
dation or firmness, which are not ward his toil; and that it will ena
sustained by any oracle of God's ble him to come much nearer to word.” his object, if he wishes to obtain
But apparently no such commisnot a superficial, but a thorough
sion is extant in scripture ; the alknowledge of his profession.
legations for it being as we shall
hereafter show, nowise clear, nor For the Christian Spectator.
probably expressive of any such au
thority granted by God; MINSTERIAL PARITY.
* * * * * It is worthy of note that the earlier Our Lord himself at several times, Episcopal divines, in their strenuous declared against this kind of primreasonings against the pope's suprem- acy, instituting equality among his acy, frequently take ground which is apostles, prohibiting them to affect, equally conclusive against lower de- to seek, to assume, or admit a sugrees of prelacy. Take for example periority of power, one above anthe following passages from Barrow;— other.
There was (saith St. Luke, among temporal grandeur, wealth, and the twelve, at the participation of honour, by undergoing persecution, the holy supper) “a strife ainong and undertaking conformity to our them who of them should be ac- Lord (being baptized with the bapcompted the greatest," or who had tism, with which he was baptized) the best pretence to superiority ; to propagate the faith of a crucified this strife our Lord presently did Master; to seek, or take on them check and quash ; but how? not authoritative dignity; for among by telling them, that he already had them there could not well be any decided the case in appointing need of commanding or being comthem a superior, but rather by as- manded ; it was more fit, that all suring them, that he did intend none of them should conspire to help such to be ; that he would have no and serve one another, in promomonarchy, no exercise of any do- ting the common design and service minion or authority by one among of their Lord, with mutual condethem over the rest ; but that not scension and compliance; which withstanding any advantages one was the best way of recommending might have before the other, (as themselves to his acceptance, and greater in gifts, or as preceding obtaining from him an answerable in any respect,) they should be one reward. Such was the drift of our as another, all humbly condescend- Lord's discourse ; whereunto (as in ing to one another, each being the other case) he did annex the ready to yield help and service to prohibition of exercising dominion : one another ; " The Kings" said “Ye know,” saith he, “ that the he, “ of the Gentiles exercise Lord. Princes of nations exercise dominship over them; and they that ex- ion over them, and they that are ercise authority over them, are call great exercise authority upon them, ed benefactors, but ye shall not be but it shall not be so among you ; so ; but he that is greater among but whosoever will be great among you let him be as the younger ; and you, let him be your minister ; and he that is leader, as he that doth whosoever will be first among you, minister;" that is, whatever privi- let him be your servant; “Os gav Jean lege any of you obtaineth, let it not whoever among you hath a mind to be employed in way of command, special grandeur and pre-eminence, but rather of compliance and sub- let him understand that there is serviency, as occasion shall require; none other to be attained, beside let him not pretend to be a supe. that which resulteth from the humrior, but rather behave himself as ble performance of charitable offian inferior ; thus our Lord did ces to his brethren ; the which who. smother the debate, by removing ever shall best discharge, he alone from among them, whatever great will become greatest and highest Aess any of them did affect or pre- in the eye of God. tend to; forbidding that any of them should, xupietes, or ExGiázev, exer
Again, as to the power, which is cise any dominion or authority over the rest, as worldly princes did over
now ascribed to St. Peter by the par
ty of his pretended successors, we their subjects.
may argue from another place ;
where our Saviour prohibiting his It was indeed (as our Lord inti- disciples to resemble the Jewish Ipateth) incongruous for those, who scribes and pharisees in their ambihad forsaken all things for Christ, tious desires and practices, their who had embraced a condition of affectations of pre-eminence, their disgrace, who were designed by assuming places and titles imports self denial, humility, neglect of ing difference of rank and authority,
Vol. I.-No. I.