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as ye have, and behold all things are clean unto you," as a symptom of incipient Popery, a mystery already working. Yes, our Saviour's own sacred words (I fear too truly) would have been seized on by some of us as the signs of the dawn of Antichrist. This is a most miserable thought.
Again St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, say, that Simon of Cyrene bore CHRIST's Cross; St. John, that CHRIST Himself bore it. Both might be true, and both of course were true. He bore it part of the way, and Simon part. Yet I conceive, did we find it was the tradition of the Church that Simon bore it, we should decide, without going into the evidence, that this was a gloss upon the pure scriptural statement. So, in like manner, even supposing that, when St. Paul says, "Ye do show forth the LORD's death till He come," he meant, which I do not grant, by "show forth," preach, remind each other of, or commemorate among yourselves, and nothing more, (which I repeat I do not grant,) even then it may be that the Holy Eucharist is also a remembrance in God's sight, a pleading before Him the merits of CHRIST's death, and so far a propitiatory offering, though this view of it were only contained in the immemorial usage of the Church, and were no point of necessary faith contained in Scripture.
Again Judas is represented as hanging himself in St. Matthew, yet in the Acts as falling headlong, and his bowels gushing out. I do not mean to say, of course, that these accounts are irreconcilable even by us; but is the difference wider than this, which exists between the explicit Scripture statement that confirmation imparteth miraculous gifts, and the Church view, not clearly brought out in Scripture, that it is also an ordinary rite conferring ordinary gifts?
We know how difficult it is to reconcile the distinct accounts of the occurrences which took place at the Resurrection with each other, and our LORD's appearances to His disciples. For instance: according to Matt. xxviii., it might seem that CHRIST did not appear to His disciples till He met them in the mountain in Galilee; but in St. Luke and St. John His first appearance was on the evening of the day of Resurrection. Again: in the Gospels according to St. Mark and St. Luke, the Ascension
seems to follow immediately on the Resurrection; but in the Acts our LORD is declared to have shown Himself to His disciples for forty days. These forty days are a blank in two Gospels. And in like manner, even though Scripture be considered to be altogether silent as to the intermediate state, and to pass from the mention of death to that of the judgment, there is nothing in this circumstance to disprove the Church's doctrine, (if there be other grounds for it,) that there is an intermediate state, and that it is important, that in it the souls of the faithful are purified and grow in grace, that they pray for us, and that our prayers benefit them.
Moreover, there is on the face of the New Testament plain evidence, that often it is but referring to the circumstances it relates, as known, and not narrating them. Thus St. Luke, after describing our LORD's consecration of the bread at supper time, adds immediately, "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying '," &c., he does not narrate it in its place; he does but allude to it as a thing well known in the way of a note or memorandum. Again: St. Mark, in giving an account of St. John Baptist's martyrdom, says, "When his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse and laid it in the tomb 2." He is evidently speaking of an occurrence, and of a tomb, which were well known to those for whom he wrote. If historical facts be thus merely alluded to, not taught, why may not doctrines also? Here again it will be replied, that Scripture was written to teach doctrine, not history; but such an answer will not hold good for many reasons. First, is it true that the Gospels were not written to teach us the facts of CHRIST's life? Next, is it true that the account of the institution of the LORD's Supper is a mere abstract historical narrative, and not recorded to direct our practice? Further, where is the proof that Scripture was intended to teach doctrine? This is one of the main points in dispute. But enough in answer to a gratuitous proposition; and enough indeed in exemplification of the characteristic of Scripture, which I proposed to consider.
1 Luke xxii. 20,
2 Mark vi. 29.
THE IMPRESSION CONVEYED BY THE STATEMENT OF FACTS AND DOCTRINES IN SCRIPTURE.
THE peculiarities, then, of the narrative portion of Scripture are such as I have described; it is unsystematic and unstudied ;— from which I would infer, that as Scripture relates facts without aiming at completeness or consistency, so it relates doctrines also; so that if it does after all include the whole system of doctrine (as we of the English Church hold), it is not from any purpose in the writers so to do, but from the overruling providence of God, overruling just so far as this, to secure a certain result, not a certain mode of attaining it,—not so as to interfere with their free and natural manner of writing, but imperceptibly guiding it; in other words, not securing their teaching against indirectness and irregularity, but against eventual incompleteness. From which it follows, that we must not be surprised to find in Scripture doctrines of the Gospel, however momentous, nevertheless taught obliquely, and capable only of circuitous. proof;—such, for instance, as that of the Blessed Trinity,-and, among them, the especial Church doctrines, such as the Apo-tolical Succession, the efficacy of the Holy Eucharist, and the details of the Ritual.
The argument, stated in a few words, stands thus:- As distinct portions of Scripture itself are apparently inconsistent with one another, yet are not really so; therefore it does not follow that Scripture and Catholic doctrine are at variance with each other, even if they seem to be.
Now I propose to go over the ground again in somewhat a different way, not confining myself to illustrations from Scripture narrative, but taking others from Scripture teaching also, and VOL. V.- -85.
that with a view of answering another form which the objection is likely to take.
The objection then may be put thus:-" We are told, it seems, in the Prayer Book, of a certain large and influential portion of doctrine, as constituting one great part of the Christian revelation, that is, of Sacraments, of Ministers, of Rites, of Observances; we are told that these are the appointed means through which CHRIST's gifts are conveyed to us. Now when we turn to Scripture, we see much indeed of those gifts, we read much of what He has done for us, by atoning for our sins, and much of what He does in us, that is, much about holiness, faith, peace, love, joy, hope, and obedience; but of those intermediate portions of the revelation coming between Him and us, of which the Church speaks, we read very little. Passages, indeed, are pointed out to us as if containing notices of them, but they are in our judgment singularly deficient and unsatisfactory; and that, either because the meaning assigned to them is not obvious and natural, but (as we think) strained, unexpected, recondite, and at best but possible, or because they are conceived in such plain, unpretending words, that we cannot imagine the writers meant to say any great thing in introducing them. On the other hand, a silence is observed in particular places, where one might expect the doctrines in question to be mentioned. Moreover, the general tone of the New Testament is to our apprehension a full disproof of them; that is, it is moral, rational, elevated, impassioned, but there is nothing of what may be called a sacramental, ecclesiastical, mysterious tone in it. For instance, let Acts xx. be considered:-'Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread'—who would imagine, from such a mode of speaking, that this was a solemn, mysterious rite? The words break bread' are quite a familiar expression. Or again: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.'-Here if the Church system were true, one might have expected that in mentioning 'keeping the feast,' a reference would be made to the LORD's Supper, as being the great feast of
CHRIST's sacrifice; whereas, instead of the notion of any literal feast occurring to the sacred writer, a mental feast is the only one he proceeds to mention; and the unleavened bread of the Passover, instead of suggesting to his mind the sacred elements in the Eucharist, is to him but typical of something moral, 'sincerity and truth.''
"Or again: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world'.'-This means, we are told, that CHRIST is with the present Church for when CHRIST said 'with you,' He meant with you and your descendants; and the Church, at present so called, is descended from the Apostles and first disciples. How very covert, indirect, and unlikely a meaning!"
"Or, to take another instance: How is it proved that the LORD's Supper is generally necessary to salvation? By no part of Scripture except the sixth chapter of St. John. Now, supposing that a person denies that this passage belongs to the Sacrament, how shall we prove it? And is it a very strong measure to deny it? Do not many most excellent men now alive deny it? have not many now dead denied it?"
This is the objection now to be considered, which lies, it would seem, in this; that, after considering what was said in the last Lecture, after all allowances on the score of the unstudied character of Scripture, there is still a serious difficulty remaining,that the circumstance that the books of Scripture were written at different times and places, by different persons, without concert, explains much,-explains why there is no system in it, why so much is out of place, why great truths come in by the bye, nay, would explain why others were left out, were there any such ; but it does not explain the case as it stands, it does not explain why a doctrine is not introduced when there is a call for it, why a sacred writer should come close up to it, as it were, and yet pass by it; why, when he does introduce it, he should mention it so obscurely, as not at all to suggest it to an ordinary reader; why, in short, the tone and character of his writing should be just contrary to his real meaning. This is the difficulty,—strongly,
1 Matt. xxviii. 20.