Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The Reformers

may

be said indeed as a body to have come forth out of the school of St. Augustine, that Father, whose piety and fervour have engaged the hearts of all who have looked into his pages. In our own day he has found an advocate, where perhaps many would not have looked for one, in Dr. Waddington, who, though probably no predestinarian, has dealt with the name of Augustine in a spirit of candour that cannot be too highly commended.*

The Reformers, whilst they appealed to all the Fathers, as witnesses against the great corruptions of the Romish Church, made especial use of St. Augustine. They admitted that the Fathers, though they retained the doctrines of justification by Faith only, and of the Atonement, had in their controversies with the heathen, inclined to philosophize and pelagianize, as was the saying of Bishop Cox. Even Montagu, in his Appello Cæsarem, does not profess to justify all their expressions on the power of the will. St. Augustine, then, the Reformers contended, had drank more deeply than not a few both before and since his day, into the true meaning, and into the deep mysteries of scripture. There they found the great principle of the Reformation, the ascribing all glory to God. There they found at once that truth which they applied fearlessly to the mystery of iniquity, until they exposed, and by the aid of the Truth himself overthrew it. No wonder then, that in our homilies,+ a preference

* See bis Hist. of the Church, pp. 170—172, vol. i. 1831. + "St. Augustine, the best learned of all ancient doc

is expressly asserted for this second apostle of grace, this fervent, humble, and most exemplary, of the ancient Fathers and Doctors. And if we consider, how far more animating, how far more happy and heavenly-minded the whole tone of St. Augustine, in comparison of the great favourite of the moderns, St. Chrysostom, we shall not be surprised to find in St. Augustine a clearer knowledge of divine things, a closer assimilation to the teaching of the Apostles. Well was it then for the Church of England, that “ the influence of St. Augustine has descended through the Reformers to us and to our church."*

Those who prefer the study of the Greek Fathers to the scriptures, and who profess to believe the scriptures according to a system gathered principally out of them, would caution their followers against too great a regard for St. Augustine.t His peculiarities are to them as unwelcome as the term “ Protestant." For they breathe not the same air ; they live not on the same food; they work not from the same motives; it is not with them, Grace awakening love. But this is not all; these who profess thus to have no faith of their own, have taken up rather with the later than the earlier Fathers;s have disingenuously discarded them upon the great doctrine of justification ; have also deserted them in their doctrine of the sufficiency of the scriptures ; have

Second Part of the Sermon against Peril of Idolatry. Homilies. p. 209. London. Rivingtons, 1825.

tors."

* Dr. Pusey's Preface to the Confessions of St. Augustine, Oxf. 1838, p. xxi.

+ Ibid. p. xvii. See Faber's Provincial Letters, vol. ii.

mixed

up
the errors of the later and darker

ages

with their eclectic theology; and have created a prejudice with the ignorant against the Fathers, by calling themselves what they are not, patristic divines. They are simply semi-Romanists, and are now indeed beginning openly to disavow the principles of the English Reformation.*

But the true Via Media avoids both these extremes. In that

way

Fuller walked. He did not elevate Whitaker or Calvin, or any of their cotemporaries, as his sole masters, to the disparaging of the “old Fathers and Doctors.” Herein he was unlike those who are content to draw all their information from Scott or Owen, or some Father of the later ages. Only change the names, and the same deference is paid to the recent by some, as to the more ancient Fathers by others. Nor did he

profess to believe second-hand, as though the scriptures could only be seen through the medium of many and voluminous writings of comparatively later date. He, with the early divines of our church, professed to venerate what in the ancients was worthy of veneration, but to judge of them and of their works, as St. Augustine tells us, he himself did of St. Cyprian and of all his predecessors, by the scriptures.

Accordingly, if some men conceived prejudices against what the Fathers and our own church prac

*“And as we go on, we must recede more and more from the principles, if any such there be, of the English Reformation."-Brit. Critic, p. 45. June, 1841.

the an

sors.

tised, because it bore a remote resemblance in their eyes to this or that ill practice of the Church of Rome; Fuller did not follow them herein, as though they were in the place of the Fathers, which indeed these modern lights would most gladly be esteemed. So he observes of commemoration of the dead: “It is no popery, nor superstition, to praise God for the happy condition of his servants departed ; cient patriarchs, the inspired prophets, the holy apostles, the patient martyrs, the religious confes

When the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasses erected the altar ED* at the

passage over Jordan, it startled all the rest of the tribes, as if under it they had hatched some superstitious design; whereas, indeed, the altar was not intended for sacrifice, but was merely an altar of memorial, to evidence to posterity that these two tribes and a half, (though divided from the rest by the river Jordan) were conjoined with them in the worship of the same God. In like manner, when some ministers + thank God for the departure of his servants, some people are so weak, and some so wilful to condemn such for passages of popery, as if superstitious prayers were made for their departure; whereas, indeed, such congratulation, on the contrary, speaks our confidence in their present bliss and happiness, and continueth the church militant with the church triumphant, as the completing one entire catholie church of Jesus Christ.” I

Ed, a witness, the altar of testimony.-Joshi xxii. 10.

Probably in the Bidding Prayer. # P. 67.

E

[ocr errors]

Most characteristic of their author are the following passages selected from these lectures.

“ The monument less subject to casualty is, to imitate the virtues of our dead friends ; in other tombs the dead are preserved ; in these, they may be said to remain alive.” *

Always preserve in thyself an awful fear, lest thou shouldst fall away from God. Fear to fall, and Assurance to stand, are two sisters; and though Cain said, he was not his brother's keeper, sure I am, that this Fear doth watch and guard her sister Assurance : Tantus est gradus certitudinis, quantus sollicitudinis. They that have much of this fear, have much certainty ; they that have little, little certainty; they that have none, have none at all." +

“Oh that there were such an holy ambition and heavenly emulation in our hearts; that as Peter and John ran a race which should come first to the grave of our Saviour ; so men would contend, who should first attain to true mortification.” I

“ After proof and trial made of their fidelity, we are to trust our brethren without

any

farther suspicion. Not to try before we trust, is want of wisdom. Not to trust after we have tried, is want of charity.” Ruth, ii. 20.

“ Naomi never before made any mention of Boaz, nor of his good deeds ; but now, being informed of his bounty to Ruth, it puts her in mind of his former courtesies. Learn from hence new favours cause a fresh remembrance of former

* P. 67.

+ P. 86.

# P. 90.

Ø P. 112.

« ElőzőTovább »