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Bishops-Office, Succession, &c. of.... 68 n., 70, 80–96, 187, 188,
198 n., 248–250 n., 260—264.
BLICATIONS designed to give a popular explanation and proof of the doctrines or institutions of the Church, not unfrequently sacrifice the cause which they are designed to support, and lead the unlearned to believe that they have attained a full knowledge of the truth, when they have received but a meagre outline, or vague generalization of the subjects it comprises. This must always be the case where the testimony of the Church is not fully considered, and is especially to be apprehended in treating upon the subjects of this work.
The Apostolic Succession of the Sacerdotal office, and the Catholic Tradition of the Church, can only be fully learned and understood by diligent study of the Christian Fathers. The most copious extracts from their writings, or complete epitome of their teaching, can no more give a just conception of the power of these principles, as they pervade their opinions, feelings, and devotion, than the model of a city can convey an impression of its energy, activity, and strength.
The following volume is therefore submitted to the Public with great diffidence, in the full know
ledge of its defects and imperfections, and in the consciousness that personal and local disadvantages are no excuse to the Church for an injury to her truth by imperfect or injudicious advocacy, however well intended. It does not, however, pretend to convey a full knowledge of the great truths on which it treats, and is proposed but as a COLLECTION OF OBSERVATIONS ON PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE RELATING TO THE MINISTRY AND TRADITION OF THE CHURCH, ELUCIDATED BY SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS.
The Church possesses learned treatises on her Ministry and Tradition, although not usually in a form attractive or accessible to the general reader: she does not, however, possess (so far as the writer knows) a work designed to convey a combined knowledge of the Catholic system of the Apostolic Church, Tradition, and Priesthood, to contribute to which the following observations are humbly intended. Several
vehement books have been lately written to disprove, and even to deride, the Apostolic Succession of the Ministry, one of which, assiduously circulated in this Country, has misled several with whom the writer is ministerially connected, by positive assertions, “ That the doctrine has no foundation in Scripture,—that there never was any one Church, ancient or modern, not even that of Rome, which held it”--that not one of the Fathers taught it“ that it is a piece of blind and bigotted arrogance of a few English Divines,” and that it is a Christian
wish “ that such designs should perish for ever." In the assurance that these assertions are a very surprising contradiction to the truth, and in the conviction of the writer that the Apostolic Succession of the Priesthood is plainly taught in Scripture,--that it was the invariable doctrine of the Church for fifteen centuries, -was fully attested by almost the whole, and was opposed by none, of the primitive Fathers -and that, as the institution of Christ, it is essential for the unity, edification, and security of the Church, he esteemed it his duty to inculcate in several sermons the Scriptural evidence of the Apostolic Ministry, and the obligations which it imposes upon Christians. A request from the Congregation for the publication of the sermons, “as calculated to be extensively useful,” has led to the composition of the present volume, containing the first part, or Scriptural evidence of the subject of the work, to be followed by the Traditional and Historical Testimony, should the local disadvantages of the writer not obstruct his design.
It is hoped that in no case will “a private interpretation” of Scripture be found to be advanced, and that the authorities cited in the notes will in most cases be a justification against the charge of novelty, which in religious subjects is generally equivalent to that of error, and in the present case would be accompanied by presumption. It is the desire of the author, with Cranmer, Martyr and Archbishop, “ to use the words of the most holy Fathers of old, and not to use any other words;"