Page images
PDF
EPUB

I.

Luke vi. 13.

“ And whereas Henderson had urged the precedent of CHARLES foreign reformed churches in favour of presbytery; the king answers, that as he is no judge over these reformed societies, só neither does he undertake to censure them: that necessity may excuse many things, which would be otherwise unlawful. But for a clearer answer to this matter, he makes no scruple to declare, that he does not value any thing the more for its being done by a particular church: but esteems that church most, which makes the nearest approach to the primitive doctrine and discipline: that he believes the Church of England stands recommended with this advantage, which is the reason he has so great a regard for her communion. His majesty proceeds to observe, that Henderson has failed in proving that presbyters may lawfully concern themselves in ordinations without a bishop. That it is plain from the New Testament, that St. Paul had a share in St. Timothy's ordination. That 2 Tim. i. I. notwithstanding the seventy had their power immediately from 6. Christ, it is evident our Saviour makes a plain distinction between the twelve apostles and the rest of the disciples.

Mark iii. 15. “As to the obligation of the coronation oath, the king replies, that though the design of this solemn engagement was for the benefit of the Church collective: does it therefore follow he can be dispensed, without the consent of the representative body? This can no more be done, than the laity without doors can discharge him from any oaths taken for their advantage, without the concurrence of the two houses. As for the pretended impracticableness of reformation upon the king's principles, his majesty thinks it sufficient to let him know, that incommodum non solvit argumentum.' To the point of a defensive war against the supreme magistrate; as his majesty owns it a great sin for any prince to oppress the Church, so on the other side, he holds it absolutely unlawful for subjects to make war (though defensively) against their lawful sovereign, upon any pretence whatsoever: and that nothing less than plain proofs from Scripture, can make him depart from this opinion. And that in discourses upon

this head, instances, no less than comparisons, are odious."

“ Mr. Henderson, in his third paper, waves most of the Henderson's points of controversy discussed before, desires to change the

Paper, method a little, and settle the rule for determining the debate June 2, touching Church polity. And here he lays down his majesty's

Third

1646.

This asser

mistake.

principles, that is, the practice of the primitive Church, and the universal consent of the fathers : these grounds of antiquity, perpetual succession, general consent of the fathers, and the universal practice of the primitive Church, are his majesty's grounds for maintaining episcopacy, and interpreting doubtful places of Scripture. And here the king falls in exactly with St. Austin, where he very reasonably infers, 'quod universa tenet ecclesia, nec a concilio institutum sed semper

retentum est, non nisi authoritate apostolica traditum, rectis847. sime creditur.' Henderson allows that the colours of truth lie

very strong upon this argument at the first view; and does not wonder at its making an impression upon a modest temper. But when it is thoroughly examined, he conceives it will be found of no great weight. For, in the first place, he affirms there is no such primitive testimony, no such universal consent, in proof of the modern episcopacy ; there being a great number of the fathers who assert that a bishop and presbyter

are of the same order. After having premised this, he offers tion of Henderson's is a several considerations to combat the principle, and disable the

authority of the primitive Church. He pretends the adhering to St. Austin's rule, resting so much upon ancient practice, Catholic tradition, and the writings of the fathers, has opened a passage to many dangerous errors, and proved a mighty hinderance to reformations.

“ He proceeds, and observes, first, that some lay down two rules for determining controversy, the word of God, and antiquity. These two grounds, called canonical authority and Catholic tradition, are received with equal veneration by the Papists : others make Scripture the only rule, and antiquity the authentic interpreter. Now he thinks this latter division of Christians most mistaken; for the Papists bring tradition no farther than to an equality of regard with the inspired writings. Bnt the others set up a ground of belief even above the Scriptures; for the interpretation of the fathers must be the dióti, the very formal reason why we believe the Scripture interpretable in such a sense : and thus, contrary to the Apostles' doctrine, men shall have dominion over our faith:

and our faith must stand in the wisdom of men, and not in the 2 Cor. i. 24. power of God.' And Scripture must be of private interpreta

tion: though St. Peter assures us, “prophecy came not in old 2 Pet. i. 20,

time by the will of man.' And, by this reasoning, as Tertul

I Cor. ii. 5.

21.

I.

Neh. viii. 8.

7.

lian speaks, nisi homini Deus placuerit, Deus non erit :' God CHARLES must stand to man's courtesy for his deity.

Secondly, That Scripture cannot be authentically interpreted but by Scripture, is plain from Scripture itself. Thus the Levites (as this gentleman argues) made the law its own interpreter, and had recourse only to one part of Scripture for expounding another.

“ Thus our Saviour, for a precedent against error, detected the devil's abuse of the inspired writings, and gave the true sense of Scripture, by explaining one text by another: he compared Scripture with Scripture, without alleging the authority of the Rabbins. This was likewise the Apostles' Matt. iv. 4. method : and thus St. Peter exhorts us to compare the clear light of the apostolical writings with the more obscure discoveries of the prophets : and when we apply for direction to the 2 Pet. i. 19. fathers, we had need be very cautious not to charge the Scriptures with obscurity or imperfection.

“ Thirdly, The fathers themselves maintain that Scripture is not to be interpreted but by Scripture. But for this point he only cites a single testimony from Tertullian: 'Surge, Veritas, ipsas Scripturas tuas interpretare quam consuetudo non novit ; nam si nosset, non esset.'

“Fourthly, He pretends some errors have passed under the shelter of antiquity and tradition ; and here he offers several instances : for example, the error of free-will began with Justin Martyr, and continued till the Reformation, though he grants it was rejected by St. Austin : and so, as he goes on, was the divine right of episcopacy contradicted by others. Farther, it was universally held by the ancients that the saints departed were not admitted to the beatific vision till the resurrection : the same may be said of the Millennaries' doctrine. And, which, he thinks, comes closer to the question in hand, the ancients were lamentably mistaken touching Antichrist : and that the mystery of iniquity, though the fathers seem not sensible of it, began to work in the Apostles' days. Many other instances, he thinks, may be brought to prove the universal practice of the Church no safe ground to rely on : and particularly that the ancient ceremonies in baptism and the liturgies ; the forming of the symbolum apostolicum, the observing anniversary and weekly festivals and fasts, are all un

VOL. VIII.

Y

xii, 1.

Gal. i. 6.

warranted by the Apostles. To take off the surprise of so sudden a defection in the primitive Church ; to give a more intelligible account of their going off thus early from apostolical purity, he endeavours,

“ In the fifth place, to give parallel instances in the Old Testament. He observes the Israelites, in the short interval

of Moses' absence, debauched their religion, and fell into horExod. xxxii. rible idolatry. Thus, soon after the death of Joshua and his

contemporary elders, the next generation revolted from their Judges ii. 7. law, and did evil in the sight of the Lord.' Soon after the

building of the temple, and settling the priests' courses by

David and Solomon, the worship of God was polluted with 2 Chron.

idolatry. When Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.' And thus in the New Testament the Apostle expostulates with the Galatians, and wonders they are so soon removed unto another Gospel.' From all these instances, he infers we have no reason to be surprised there should be a sudden defection in matters of discipline ; especially since this mischief began to operate in the Apostles? time. He grants it is commonly believed the Church was most remarkable for purity and perfection in those centuries which came nearest the apostolical age : but thinks this opinion not well supported.

“Sixthly, He insists that the universal consent and practice of the primitive Church is impossible to be known : that many of the fathers were no authors; that

many

of their tracts are lost, which might possibly have disagreed with those extant; that many performances which go under their names are counterfeit, especially upon the subject of episcopacy : and that the rule of St. Austin, above-mentioned, favours tradition too much, and is not to be admitted without caution and

restraint." The King's His majesty, in his answer to this last paper of Henderson, Fourth

closes with his method, and “agrees with him in beginning Paper, July 3, with the settling of the rule. He puts him in mind of his

offering a judge to determine the controversy; but that Henderson had neither agreed to the reference, nor directed to a better umpire. As for Scripture, though no man can reverence it more, or resign farther to it than his majesty ; yet

יר

1646.

I.

when Henderson and himself differ about the interpretation of CHARLES a text, it is necessary for them to apply to some rule to settle the sense.

And that without compromising the matter thus 848. far, it is impossible the dispute should be determined. For instance, the king charges Henderson with misapplying 2 Cor. i. 24. His majesty cannot imagine how his principles give other men dominion over his faith, when he makes them only serviceable to support his reason.

And which way 1 Cor. ii. 5, can be turned to this purpose, is farther than he understands. For here St. Paul's design is only to mark the difference between human rhetoric and the demonstration of the Spirit : as for interpreting Scripture, this Apostle gives no directions for that through the whole chapter. It is true St. Peter does. But here the king conceives the advantage lies 2 Pet. i. 20. on his side. For since no prophecy or Scripture is of private interpretation, his majesty infers, —

“1. That Scripture is to be interpreted, otherwise the word private would have been omitted by the Apostle.

“ 2. That the Catholic Church being the surest guide, and the most public authority, ought to be appealed to when the meaning of the Holy Ghost is contested.

“ And though Scripture is best interpreted by itself, when parallel places occur, and the case will bear it, does it follow from hence that all other methods are unlawful ? And thus, since the king and Henderson differ about the meaning of the Scripture, his majesty concludes there must be a rule, or a judge between them, to give force to their proofs, to make their arguments bear, and put an end to the controversy." Thus far his majesty's fourth paper.

In his fifth he engages Henderson's "Six Considerations," and disproves his reasoning

“ To the first his majesty answers, that overflourishing the His Maauthority of tradition is no argument against the serviceable-jesty's Fifth ness of it: for, though some ignorant fellows should assert the July 6,

1646. power of presbyters too far, and overstrain their character, would this be a good reason for lessening the regard due to them? By parity of inference,” continues the king," why may not I safely maintain the interpretation of the Fathers a most excellent support of my opinion? Why may not I depend thus far upon the ancients, though some extravagant

יל

« PreviousContinue »