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neglected to mingle salutary threats of punishment and hints of a superintending authority with its exhortations, as St. Paul did in his Epistles, if either Church or bishop had then possessed apostolical control or superintendence over other Churches ? Indeed, if such an authority had been vested in the Church of Rome, it is impossible that no more should be left on record of its intercourse with the other primitive Churches, in a season which, above all others, seemed to require the active superintendence of a common Head, if any there were on earth.

Subsequently to the writing of this Epistle, all, perhaps, that deserves notice concerning the state of affairs at Rome, is the Epistle which Ignatius addressed to them, in his journey thither as a con- so also the demned martyr.

This Epistle, no less than the former, although in Episties: a different way, confirms the protestant's assertion, that all Churches are independent of Rome and the Romish bishop. Ignatius writes to them in the same independent tone which appears in his Epistles to other Churches; and, in one place particularly, speaks of the joint founders of that Church, in a way which is certainly inconsistent with the view of their successors being invested with a similar character. He had been desiring their prayers for him in his approaching trial; and he adds, “ I do not command you as if I were Peter or Paul ; they were apostles. Would he, who of all writers, ancient or modern, most insists on the authority of the Christian ministry, in all its gradations, have neglected here to remind the Romans of the character of their bishop, if it were different from his own ? Could he have failed to allude to the infallible authority that still abode with them, if there were any, since that of Peter and Paul? The author of this Epistle soon after suffered martyrdom in the object of

that Epistle. Coliseum at Rome; and the chief object of sending the Epistle before him, appears to have been to prevent any rash attempt on the part of the Christians there to rescue him. Any turbulent or disobedient spirit, which might have been thus displayed in the capital of the empire, would of course have been tenfold more dangerous to the furtherance of the Gospel, in awakening the suspicions of the Gentile government, than any thing which might take place elsewhere. The Epistle was admirably adapted to accomplish this; and the warm expressions which it contains, concerning the joys of martyrdom, will not seem unnatural and extravagant, if regarded with this view. A cold appeal to the prudence of his brethren at Rome would, with the strong excitement of feeling which his case produced amongst them, have been scarcely listened to. To desert the holy man from prudential motives, might have seemed to them mean and dastardly. It was requisite to represent the fate that threatened him, as not only good and glorious, but absolutely pleasurable. This is the spirit of all Ignatius's Epistles, but most of all, of that in which it was most needed.

His remonstrance was, perhaps, not misplaced; for the fact, that his remains were gathered up, as if from a melancholy effort to find some safe

way of testifying their regard, seems to indicate, that unless precaution had been used, some imprudent attempt to rescue him might have been made.

THE CHURCH AT ALEXANDRIA.

Its

86 To

To these notices of the primitive Churches of Jerusalem and Rome, it would be desirable to add some account of the Church of Alexandria ; as its influence on the character of the Christian world was certainly not less than that of either of the preceding. But it would be impossible to introduce such a history of it, as would be at once useful, and compatible with the scheme of this inquiry. At the same time, it may not be improper to remind the reader, of the

several allusions which have been already made to the corrupt tencorruption. dency of this Church from the earliest times; and to state briefly,

that out “ of the false knowledge" cultivated here, proceeded
directly, or indirectly, nearly all the heresies of the first ages.
this day, indeed, remains may be traced in the Christian world, of
the false and fatal notions which took their rise in Alexandria ; and
Christians and divines have not yet ceased to find Christianity in
Plato, and to regard his metaphysical speculations on the nature of
the Deity, as glimpses of revelation; or at least, as anticipations of
Divine truths, which they know not how to attribute to mere human
ingenuity. And it must be confessed, that some of the metaphysical
views, which, from time to time, have been taken of the doctrine of
the Trinity, display a coincidence with Plato's system, too minutely
exact to have been accidental. To one who adopts them, the con-
clusion must be unavoidable, that either Plato's knowledge was
derived from inspiration, or that Christianity was derived from
Plato. But we " have not so learned Christ.'

SCHOOLS, CATECHISTS, AND CATECHISMS. We are contemplating the primitive Church in the performance of its office of dispensing the revelation recorded and intrusted to its keeping; and we have seen it, with this object in view, interweaving the holy Scriptures into the stated service of God; main

88 Melancthon's assertion, that all the Origen's Platonism may be found in early Fathers were more or less infected Paganinus Gaudentius, ** De Comparawith Platonism, is not without some foun- tione dogmatum Origenis cum philosodation. “Ştatim post Ecclesiæ

auspicia, phia Platonis." Mr. Daillé, in his per Platonicam Philosophiam Christiana severe censure of the Fathers, has avowdoctrina labefactata est. Ita factum est, edly spared Origen, from a feeling, it ut, præter canonicas Scripturas, nullæ would seem, that those who have exposed sint in Ecclesia sinceræ literæ. Redolet his errors, were themselves infected with philosophiam quicquid omnino commen- the like; “ neque dissimulandum est, eos tariorum extat.”-De libero arbitrio, qui adversus Origenem scripserunt, non inter Locos Communes. Mosheim arrives fuisse in his disputationibus tanta felicinearly at the same conclusion in his

tate versatos, ut, dum hujus errores “ Dissertatio de turbata per recentiores oppugnant, in nullos ipsi occurrerint." Platonicos Ecclesia.” An exposure of - De vero Usu Patrum, d. 265.

instructing

Christians.

taining a separate order of men for officiating, and for interpreting, as well as for reading this record; and also employing them in offering the truths it contains to strangers and the heathen, as well as to the brethren.

But the Church's trusteeship was, to a certain extent, discretionary. Its first duty was thus to afford to all, access to the Word of God, as God gave it; its next, to resort to every method of communicating that Word, which should render it in each case most intelligible or acceptable. The unconverted would require to be addressed in a different form from the Christian already instructed ; and, among both converted and unconverted, there would exist an endless variety of intellectual habits and capacities, which would require the truths of the Gospel to be shaped accordingly.

The great body of those, then, to whom Gospel truths were addressed, are commonly divided into two classes ; the catechumens, or those who were preparing by an appointed course of instruction (rathxnous) for baptism; and the fideles (Trotol,) or complete Christians (τέλειοι).

With respect to the latter, the Gospel truths were dispensed, not Mode of only as they were found in Scripture, but systematically arranged the in Sermons, in Creeds, and in other formulas of religious instruction. confirmed For the purpose of conveying scriptural truth by these channels, either more compendiously, or more in accordance with the previous knowledge or general pursuits of those addressed, technical terms were introduced ; which, although not occurring in Scripture, might represent certain doctrines contained there. The word Trinity may serve to illustrate what is here meant.

The duties of catechist, or instructor of these catechumens, The appear to have been discharged occasionally by all the orders of the Catechists. ministry, from the bishop to the lowest deacon. To avoid scandal, the female catechumens were generally taught by that ancient order, the deaconesses, or widows; of which mention has been formerly The made, and of whose original appointment this was probably the main reason.

The candidates for baptism went through a course of instruction The first suited to each; but in what their catechism generally consisted, we probably know no further than that the sum of it was repentance and faith. Historical. In what it would naturally consist, as contrasted with the after instruction of the mature Christian, is a question on which it is not difficult to decide. The original and primary character of the Gospel scheme is historical ; and the first office of its original preachers, accordingly, that of witnesses to facts. An historical account of the events of the sacred record would therefore seem,

Deaconesses.

87

87 See Bingham's Eccl. Antiq. Book II. Ch. XXII. Sec. 9. Agreeably to this view, the African Churches, in the decree of the Council of Carthage, specify

among the qualifications of a deaconess, Ut possit apto et sano sermone docere imperitas et rusticas mulieres,” &c.

of such a method,

almost certainly, to be the appropriate instruction of the catechumen, if we had no clue to guide us beyond the character of the subject to be handled. But this presumption is greatly increased, by comparing it with what actually did take place during the apostolic ministry, in the few instances on record of what approaches nearest to catechetical instruction—the preaching of the apostles and others to an unconverted audience. In St. Paul's address to the Jews at Jerusalem, and to the Gentiles at Athens, his teaching is strictly of this character; and that this did not arise from any peculiar habit

of composition, is evident from his Epistles, in which quite a Advantazes different method is pursued. The point has been thought thus

much worthy of notice, because it is not unreasonable to believe, that if the custom of so teaching Christianity to the young and the unlearned, were more common, the abstract truths would be more easily and naturally understood, afterwards. Whereas, to begin with these, gives the whole an abstruse and unattractive air to most; and creates a difficulty, in that study which was intended for the humblest capacities.

Separate establishments existed for the children of Christians and for the adult catechumens, as might naturally be expected; and the early use of sponsors marks the anxious care of the Church, that provision should be made for preventing in all cases a mere conformity to custom.

With regard to the places in which the catechumens received their education and training, although these seem to have been in some instances separate and appropriate, yet in others, the Church, or some part of it, was appointed for this purpose.S

It is scarcely possible to pursue, even in imagination, the stages which connect all these simple seminaries of elementary religion with those splendid and elaborate institutions, in which religion and useful learning are now united; and which are among the most powerful instruments employed, by our own Church especially, for dispensing the faith which she has in keeping.

Children.

Schools.

88 Bingham, Book III. Ch. X. Sec. 4.

CHAPTER V.

HOW THE FIRST UNINSPIRED CHURCH FULFILLED ITS OFFICE OF

CONVEYING DIVINE GRACE.

xv. 12, 17.

duties of the Church

Of the sacred character of the Christian society, considered as the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and the appointed medium of its operations, it is scarcely possible to speak in language too strong. No peculiarity of the New Testament is more striking, than the continual and anxious endeavour of the sacred writers to awaken and cherish a sense of it. As portions of this holy building, as members of this society beloved of God, the Christians received from their Lord his one new commandment, “ to love one another.” John xiii. 31; All the zeal of the great Apostle of the Gentiles to teach and preach and enlarge this society, was at the same time directed towards obtaining from every Church an acknowledgment and testimony of this, in the specific pledge of alms for the needy brethren of Judæa. St. John's favourite theme is this holy love; and if more of the inspired preachers had left their teaching on record, this, doubtless, would have been a characteristic prominent in all their writings.

It was a high and holy office which the Church had to execute Sacramental in preserving inviolate the recorded revelation: it was a duty no less honourable and anxious, which it was appointed to discharge, Ministers. in dispensing this intrusted blessing, so that mankind should receive the greatest possible benefit from it. But higher and holier, perhaps, was this its priestly office—its sacramental character-its duty of perpetually communicating to new countries and successive generations, the gift which it immediately received from Christ, and of which it was the appointed medium for ever. The acts which constituted these means were, of course, to be the essential badges of the society; and without them that society might have preserved the Bible, and distributed its contents, but would not have been a Christian Church. What these means are, all know. They are all those outward observances in which Christians meet to celebrate their whole spiritual communion with Christ and with each other ; but especially those which are distinguished by specific Divine institution—the sacraments, of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Not that to them alone belongs a sacramental character; for it is evident, that if only these observances were perpetuated, the

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