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people, which may much advance the power and efficacy of their preaching. 2. Men will more willingly digest a reproof for their faults, if praised when they do well. 3. Virtue being commended doth increase and multiply; creepers in goodness will go, goers run, runners fly.
Use. “ Those ministers to be blamed, which are ever blaming, often without cause, always without measure; (whereas it is said of God, he will not be always chiding, Ps. ciii. 9.) Do any
desire to hear that which Themistocles counted the best music, namely, themselves commended ? On these conditions we ministers will indent with them. Let them find matter; we will find words. Let them do what is commendable, and blame us if we commend not what they do. Such work for us would be recreation; such employment a pleasure, turning our most stammering tongue into the pen of a ready writer. To reprove is prest from us, as wine from grapes ; but praises would flow from our lips as water from a fountain. But, alas, how can we build, when they afford us neither brick nor straw? How can we praise what they do, when they will not do what is to be praised ? If with Ahab, they will do what is evil, we must always prophesy evil unto them.”
Some there are, who profess to think that all Church-reforms are dangerous, and who naturally trouble themselves to excuse, if not to commend defects that so, nothing may appear defective. These admire pluralities, non-residence, want of discipline, and (in the case of their brethren) necessitousness of the Vicarial and Stipendiary Clergy. Let such hear our worthy divine, who, after observing that corruptions will soon find their way into the best Church, says, “If Primitive Churches, whilst the apostles which planted them were alive to prune them, had such errors in them, no wonder if the Church at sixteen hundred
age may have some defaults. Moses said unto the Israelites, Deut. xxxi. 27. Behold, while I am alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord, and how much more when I am dead. So, if while St. Paul survived, Churches were so prone to decline, what can be less expected in our days? It was therefore well concluded in the 39th session of the Council of Constance, that every ten year at the farthest, there should be a general council held to reform such errors in the Church as probably in that time would arise."
He afterward enters upon the subject of traditions, and gives the several senses in which the word Tradition is taken. Observing that doctrines not contained in the very words and sound, but in the substance of Scripture, are of equal force with the Scripture, being in fact the Scripture more formally but not more largely expressed: he admits also of such opinions against which nothing appears in Scripture, and which the Church in all times and ages hath maintained, condemning the opposers for erroneous; as the perpetual Virginity of the mother of our Lord. He declines to say of these that they are “of equal force with the written Word.” Thus he, in effect, reduced them, however probable or venerable to mere matters of opinion. He notes that the Scriptures, besides many others, have two most principal privileges above tradition; 1. their inspiration ; 2. their providential preservation. This second is indeed a royal and divine prerogative. The word of God is attested most clearly by his providence.
“ The providence of God plainly appears in the preserving of the Scriptures against all oppositions. Many a time from my youth up (may the Scriptures now say) yea, many a time have they fought against me, but they could not prevail against
Neither Antiochus before Christ, nor Julian the apostate since him, nor the force of tyrants, nor the fraud of heretics (though the world of late hath scarce yielded a wicked sharp-wit, that hath not given the Scriptures a gash), could ever suppress them. Their treading on this camomile made it grow the better, and their snuffing of this candle made it burn the brighter. Whereas, on the other side, the records of traditions are lost, and those books wherein they were compiled and composed aut incuria hominum, aut injuria temporis (either by the negligence of men or by the ravages of time), or by some other sinister accident, are wholly miscarried and no where appear. Papias is reported by Eusebius (Hist. lib. 4, c. 8.) in five books, to have contained all the apostolical traditions, which they call the Word not written ; but Bellarmine himself confessed that these are lost. Likewise Clemens Alexandrinus (as the same Eusebius. lib. 6, c. 11.) storieth it, wrote in a book those
traditions which he received from the elders, and they from the apostles, which book the Papists themselves at this day cannot produce. I will conclude all with Gamaliel's words, Acts v. 39, But if it be of God ye cannot destroy it. Had these books been inspired by God's Spirit, no doubt the same providence would have watched to preserve them which hath protected the Scripture. Let us, therefore, leaving uncertain traditions, stick to the Scriptures alone, trust no doctrine on its single band, which brings not God's Word for its security. Let that plate be beaten in pieces which hath not this tower-stamp upon
it.” The Via Media, as the party of Mr. Newman denominate themselves, have advanced many things ambiguously respecting tradition; not venturing to defend or altogether abide by their own assertions, but instead of refuting those who maintain the doctrine of the Church of England, charging them with misrepresentation. It is thus that the Romish Church, ashamed of her own paradoxes, endeavours to screen herself from the assaults of truth. These writers are so near the Church of Rome in this point, that the principal positions of Professor Keble's Sermon on Tradition are to be found in Bishop Prideaux's Fasciculus Controversiarum,* stated as the objections of the Romanists to the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, and refuted.
In reviewing the doctrine of the Eucharist, and the arguments of the Romanists for Transubstantiation and the Holy Communion, Fuller asserts, as is probably in part true, that the doctrine of Transubstantiation was first occasioned by the hyperboles of Damascene and Theophylact. He might have added of Chrysostom, and others of the Fathers. “So dangerous it is for any to wanton it with their wits in mysteries of religion.”
From the words “ As often as ye eat this bread,” he proceeds to urge frequent communion. “Under as often is often included; whence we gather we must frequently celebrate the Lord's supper. In the Primitive Church it was done every day. (Euseb. lib. 1. Demonst. Evang. c. 10.) And fit it was the aqua vitæ bottle should ever be at their nostrils, who were swooning every moment; and they needed constant cordials, who ever and anon had the qualms of temptation in the time of persecution.” This homely figure is so expressive as almost by its suitableness to atone for its homeli
“ This frequency soon abated when peace came into the Church, which makes St. Ambrose (Lib. 5. De Sacramentis, c. 4.) reprove
negligence of the Eastern Churches who received it but once a year.”
He proceeds to answer the objections that have been invented to dissuade from the revival of the better and more ancient spirit. The first objection is taken from the Passover which was observed but once a year. To this he replies, “ The Passover by God was stinted to be used no oftener: in the Lord's Supper we are left to our own liberty.