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although we do not yet trace in any recent publications a full acknowledgment of the unbelieving tendency of Anglo-Catholicism, (which, with the exception of the author just cited and the Archbishop of Dublin, we have stood almost alone in exposing as it deserves),-yet we find at present a decided disposition prevail to view it in its more comprehensive aspect. This is peculiarly evinced in the series of Sermons by Dr. Hampden now before us. At an early stage of his public career, when the controversy raged fiercely and the Regius Professor of Divinity was assailed on all sides with the cry of heresy, he rather confined his replies to a calm and temperate discussion of the questions of tradition, asceticism, justification, and others connected with them. These points, we need hardly say, are examined with all the learning and ability for which the author's reputation justly stands so high. But in others, and especially the last, we find him going more to the root of the matter.

These discourses were all delivered in the University pulpit ex officio by the Regius Professor, and among them are some of the most important which he has preached since his accession to the office. The single discourse which has just appeared is a continuation of the series, and is in our opinion superior to any of its predecessors, exhibiting a more distinct, direct and lucid advance upon the great fundamental question. In the earlier discourses we trace abundant evidence of the deep and varied erudition of the writer; his profound acquaintance with the schools of ancient philosophy, and those offsets from its corruption, the Gnostic theories of the early ages of Christianity, furnished him with perhaps the most important elucidations of theological questions. We extract the following passage as bearing directly on our main subject, and giving an example of our author's mode of illustration derived from such sources as we have just mentioned :

"Among the mystic beings introduced by the Gnostics into their system, we find the personifications of truth and life. Such personifications may seem to be absurdly fanciful, because in the present state of knowledge and civilization we do not feel the temptation to digress into reveries of such a character: but they are worthy of our attention as particulars in the working of the human mind on that gospel-truth which is given to discipline and to prove it. They are only peculiar illustrations of the same prin

ciple which is even now exemplified, of the natural tendency to refuse the simplicity of the Gospel, and to receive its truths, not as what they really are, the direct and ultimate objects of our belief, but as elements in a complex system and the bases of ingenious speculations.

"Do we imagine that the presumption and folly of Gnosticism in its attempts to facilitate the advance of the soul towards God, by multiplying the number of subordinate agents, and thus refusing the one great and simple principle of faith in Christ only, have ceased with the breaking of its tissue of speculation?

"Let us look to the Church of Rome, and inquire whether this Church has not, though in a less palpable form, equally contradicted the words of Christ declaring Himself the way, the truth and the life.

"What then must we say of that peculiar importance which is attributed by the Church of Rome to the notion itself of the Church? What in its origin means that very personification of the Church (which occurs also in the Gnostic system) which is now so prevalent, and so established indeed in ordinary use that many employ it familiarly in speaking and writing, without thinking any more than in other phrases of speech of the first intention of the expression? I do not of course mean to say that the expression may not be used by Protestants to give dignity or animation to their style and to express the warmth of their feelings when speaking of the Church, without derogating from the supremacy of Christ; nor that we may not take up the language of the beautiful analogy of Scripture under which the Church is described as the bride or spouse of Christ. But the principle of the Gnostic corruption of the faith in Christ lurks under the personification of the Church when that personification is applied to the matter of doctrine, as it is by the Church of Rome. When the Romanist, for example, speaks of the Church as that 'out of which there is no salvation' and as 'the holy mother of Christians,' or as dictating by an infallible authority the rule of faith and the particular doctrines to be believed, it is here plainly applying to the Church what belongs exclusively to Christ himself.

"......... But if in speaking of acts that are proper to the Saviour himself, the Romanist drops the mention of Christ and substitutes that of the Church, the Church is then presented to the believer as the immediate and principal agent in the work, and practically becomes to each member in itself the way.

"Again, though persons may not go the whole length of the Romanist representation of the Church, it is possible so to put forward the importance of the ministerial office and of the Church in general under the name of Church principles as to lead men to think more of the Church than of Christ-of the body than of the head of the body.”—Sermon IV. page 95 et

seq.

On such points it is hopeless to attempt to gain any satisfactory decision, until we have clear and definite views of what is meant by Church authority, and on what it is

grounded. In fact, a few minutes' dispassionate reflection, on this really most simple question, would do more to settle any person's views on the whole controversy than volumes of argument. We hear much said of the catholicity of the Church, of the testimony of its universal consent to great doctrines,— of the apostolicity of its constitution,-of the earliest and therefore purest ages of Christianity, from which we must suppose the unadulterated truth is to be learned. But how few men form any definite conception of all these and the like pretensions! and when simply tried by the touchstone of common sense and historical fact, how entirely does their imposing character vanish, and their inherent emptiness appear; while the conclusion is forced upon us, that in proportion as all these pleas are admitted to be real and substantial, the entire claim of the New Testament, as the written revelation of Christianity, must lose all its distinctive force, and be in fact set aside.

If we look to the record of the original institution of Christianity, we must acknowledge, that the few outward forms expressly attached to it at first are wholly insufficient to enable us to determine where, among modern diversities, the true Church, if tested by any such outward marks and visible signs, is to be found. It requires but a slight acquaintance with history to perceive, that those very institutions, on which some parties lay peculiar stress, were such as manifestly grew up in the early ages out of the gradual and natural consolidation of Christian communities. At a later period we find such outward characters multiplied, and more rigidly insisted on as the essential signs of the true Church; we trace the claims thus maintained by a dominant party, gradually acquiesced in, or at least submitted to; lastly we find it asserted, that all these were in fact the continuance of the apostolic institutions, and that the power of the Apostles was transmitted to their successors through ordinances altogether unknown to the apostolic age.

An ordinary degree of reflection upon the scenes which ecclesiastical antiquity presents, will suffice to show the real origin of those claims, and out of what simple elements the various traditions of the Church arose,-sources of a far

humbler description than the unfathomable antiquity and unchangeable divine ordinance before which Catholicists bow, and always traceable to ordinary moral causes and the influence of the simplest motives of human nature. Offices in the ministry and government of the Church, during the process of transmission, must continue to undergo material changes, from the augmenting demands of authority and the encroachments of spiritual prerogative: tenets and doctrines thus handed down are necessarily liable to receive additions and refinements with the fluctuations of opinion. In forms and rites there is a continual proneness to engraft upon the original simple observance numberless accessions of ceremony, which, however slight at first, soon acquire a significance not originally contemplated, and in time become regarded as vital parts of the institution. Again, the alleged peculiar purity in faith, so inseparably associated in many minds with the primitive ages of the Gospel, is easily seen to be groundless. If we admit a divine interposition in the first age of the Church, as requisite for its original establishment and external protection,-still this does not imply that the same guidance was extended to individuals to exempt them from errors in opinion, or that the doctrine of the Church was supernaturally preserved pure. The original revelation stood unchanged in its heavenly brightness, and the first teachers were infallibly guided; yet it does not in the least follow that the learners

were.

This notion of the peculiar purity of the primitive doctrine is often confounded with that of the sincerity and fervour of the faith evinced in those times of persecution. But however just this last impression may be, it is quite unconnected with the former. If earnestness of faith, fervour of devotion and constancy under suffering for conscience' sake, be proofs of the truth of belief, or of exemption from error, in the votary, what form of belief can be untrue or erroneous ?

But further, what are the facts? We presume that the testimony of the learned and orthodox Dr. Burton will be received on such a point, and we refer to his elaborate Bampton Lectures (especially Lecture I. p. 27) for an ample admission that the age of the Apostles was one peculiarly marked by

every error and extravagance in doctrine. Judaism on the one hand and Gnosticism on the other, with all their excesses, pervaded the whole Church; and within that century every variety of preposterous doctrine was in the full vigour of monstrous growth. Again, the pre-eminently orthodox Vincent Lirinensis admits that Arianism had infected the whole Church in the time of Constantius, which is by many deemed an age of golden purity; and further, we have the express testimony of a sound Catholicist that the age of pure doctrine had not begun when some think it ended. M. Jurieu, whose zeal against heresy is well known, assures us that the fundamental articles of Christian faith were not understood by the Fathers of the three first centuries,-that the true system began to be modelled into some shape by the Nicene bishops, and was afterwards improved and beautified by succeeding synods and councils*.

In fact Christianity has never been exempt from corruptions; each age has been marked by its own peculiar perversions; some have worn out, only to be replaced insensibly by others; others have remained, permanently infecting every age, and at length, invested with the venerable attributes of antiquity, have become the favourite idols of modern adoration. Many protest strongly against the corruptions of modern Romanism, only to adhere with greater closeness to the older, and therefore more inveterate, corruptions of primitive antiquity.

Nevertheless, such has been the veneration popularly accorded to antiquity, such the charm thrown around the vision of primitive simplicity, and the sanctity with which the idea of "the primitive Church" has been invested,-that, to dwell upon palpable facts, such as those just alluded to, is regarded by many as little short of profaneness; while the constitution of this primitive institution, real or supposed, has been looked to as the essential rule and model, to which every true branch of the Church must be found comformable in all after ages. Volumes of learned research have in fact been filled in this attempt to guide us to the true Church. Immense stores of reading have been brought to bear on the task of fixing some

See Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History,' iii. 49.

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