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Quarterly Review.


ART. I.—1. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of London, at the Visitation, in October, 1838. By CHARLES JAMES, LORD BISHOP OF LONDON. London: Fellowes.

2. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Chester, at the Triennial Visitation, in 1838. By JOHN BIRD SUMNER, LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER. London: Hatchard.

3. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Lincoln, in 1838. By JOHN KAYE, LORD BISHOP OF LINCOLN. London: Rivington.

4. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Salisbury, at the Primary Visitation. By EDWARD, LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY. London: Cochran, 1839.

IN casting our eyes over the records of antiquity, and more especially those of the Primitive Church, it is not often that our first general survey enables us to form a correct idea of the subject. We see the lives and actions of great men-we trace the course of great events; and while dazzled by the splendid characters, and absorbed by the interesting circumstances thus brought under our notice, we forget the vast mass of small men, and their daily transactions of petty business. The brilliant lights of the age are brought nearer together, while the desert fields they illuminated are withdrawn from our view. We walk and talk with heroes and princes, with saints and martyrs, and "the people," though forming an essential part of the picture, are yet thrown altogether in the back-ground-they are hidden by the gorgeous curtain of high reputations; and were it not for the glory reflected on heroes for slaughtering them, on sovereigns for justly ruling them, and on saints for reforming them, they would be scarcely heard of at all. In the page of history they are rather implied than expressed.


We have observed that this is peculiarly the case with the ideas we form of the Primitive Church. The sanctity which we attach to the very names of the Fathers, and which, though doubtless carried to a dangerous extent by those who would make the Patristic tomes authorities in matters of faith, as well as witnesses in matters of fact, is yet no lawful subject either for satire or for blame. That due reverence for antiquity which Isaac Taylor, in a book replete with error, yet eloquently defends, becomes magnified in proportion as its objects recede into the past, like a ship seen dimly through a mist. The visible glory of God, revealed in the person of the Saviour, sheds a light over the early ages of Christianity, compared to which all other glory grows pale indeed; and though a further consideration would teach us that the light of that presence has been continued, and we believe increased, even to the present day, by the spiritual guidance vouchsafed to the Church, we yet can with difficulty persuade ourselves that the nearer ages to that surpassing manifestation of divinity were not necessarily holier than our own more remote æra. It is quite true, however, that, in the present day, there are aids given to the student of Ancient Christianity which were till very lately wanting; and there are means of correcting our judgments which, if used cautiously, will be found very efficacious. A little reading will, when properly directed, now suffice to give us a correct general notion of the Church, as it was in its earlier period. The writers and followers of the Oxford Tracts have approached the subject with a strong bias on the one side; the author of "Ancient Christianity" and his followers with an equally strong bias on the other. With the former are ranged more than one talented periodical; with the latter several of the small fry of literature. We purpose ourselves to take up the middle ground, which we believe to be the ground occupied by the Catholic Church of England equally distant from the semi-Popery of the one, and the more than semi-Dissent of the other.

But we have observed, that a correct general notion of the Church during her earlier ages may, in these days, be formed without very extensive reading. Those, even, who are unacquainted with the languages of the Fathers, may yet consult the Tracts for the Times, and other works of the same class, and by the same writers, perfectly sure that the profound learning of those divines will not fail to bring forward, prominently, all the advantages, real or fancied, which antiquity possessed over our own æra. He may consult the Osbornes and the Taylors, and those of their sentiments, to find out all the deformities, all the errors, all the weaknesses, of those who have long since appeared before God. He will find inferior learning, and inferior logic, and inferior

candour; but he will, nevertheless, find much fact which cannot be refuted, much scriptural truth which must not be rejected. The case seems to lie in a small compass; the question is one almost as much of feeling as of principle. The Tractarians (we use the word for conveniency, and not in a disrespectful sense) are fully aware that all scripture is given by inspiration of God; that he has made no distinction of truth into essential and nonessential, of sin into venial and mortal; and they have carried out this principle into matters of discipline, where it is no longer applicable. The disciples, if not the leaders of this school, have confounded antiquity with apostolicity; have treated rites and ceremonies as though they were matters of vital moment. Forgetting that truth is always more ancient than error, they have evinced a disposition to prefer an error, sanctioned by antiquity, to a truth which could not, in their view, be satisfactorily traced back to the same extent.

Their opponents, on the other hand, have confounded antiquity with Popery-have virtually assumed the principle, that every man is to be his own Bible; that there is no authoritative standard of interpretation; and that, consequently, whatever a man believes the Scriptures to say, to him they do say it. We are well aware that they will indignantly fling back upon us the charge, and call us papists for making it, just in the same way as the Tractarians will designate us "Dissenters" for not adopting all their views; but we must still maintain, that to deny the existence of an authoritative standard of interpretation, is to make every man his own interpreter, and every man's prejudices his own faith. He, therefore, who, with a sound judgment, looks at the Primitive Church, first, as exhibited to him through the imaginative and highly-coloured medium of Mr. Newman, and then in the baleful light shed over it by the torch of Isaac Taylor, will hardly fail to obtain something like a just knowledge of the subject. He will not obtain the information of the scholar-he must not depend upon minute particulars, but he will yet have taken a panoramic view of a field which should be wholly unknown to none. We have been led into these remarks, by reflecting on the duties of the Episcopate, and the different treatment which the Bishops, both of antiquity and of our own day, have experienced at the hands of those who were and are, doubtlessly, good men. That a Bishop who bestows his patronage upon A should be misrepresented by B is, however lamentable, a result to be expected. We are never surprised at the irregular clergyman's dislike of his disciplinarian superior; but we do sorrow much, when we see the fame of those departed" in the faith and fear" of God many years ago, made the theme of violent discussion, and the football of party spirit.

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