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they are written in the Latin language, and are combined with other less practical works by the same Author.
The Lectures on the Acts have appeared only in Pearson's Posthumous Works' edited by Dodwell, and in Mr Churton's edition of his Minor Works;' and in consequence, although these Lectures are read by divines and known by name through the references of Commentators on the Acts, the substance of them, and the author's incidental remarks, in which their value chiefly consists, are but little brought under the notice of the Clergy at large.
The Annals of S. Paul are to be found in Randolph's 'Enchiridion Theologicum,' and were edited at Cambridge, in English, in 1825, (of which edition I have not yet been able to procure a copy), and hence they have become better known and more widely appreciated.
But the two tracts, containing, as they do, a genuine sketch of the Church of the Apostles and of the first Christian Missions, an example for all Churches in all times, ought never to have been separated. For though the Annals have been generally esteemed on account of
their chronology, their value as a Missionary Record has been overlooked; while the Lectures, the fragment of a much more elaborate work, have been lying almost forgotten in an age that can well bear their instruction, and in that Church which they are so exceedingly well calculated to strengthen.
Secondly, we do well to recognize in Pearson the safest guide that we can propose for the study of the Christian Fathers. He brings out his Patristic learning with so much ease, he uses it with so much manliness and good sense, and he discriminates between counterfeit and genuine authors, and between the strong and weak arguments of the latter, with such correct precision, that we are equally astonished, delighted, and convinced by his almost demonstrative remarks. I venture to hope that the perusal of his Lectures on the Acts will be of service in communicating to young students in Divinity the same disposition with regard to these writers, which they observe in Pearson, both inclining and enabling them to advance safely into their works, and so into a rich storehouse of Christian thought and feeling.
Lastly, I have preferred to edit these tracts
in English, from the hope that they would thus be more likely to reach English Dissenters and Roman Catholics, and to become available to all English Missionaries who are preaching in sincerity the Word of God, and spreading the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: for they cannot but tend to reconcile the former to our discipline; and to suggest to the latter that they are following the model of the Apostolic and Primitive Church, while adhering to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England.
All readers of Pearson's Works will at least find that he, in an unsettled and troublous age, held stedfastly to the Church of England, on the like grounds of duty that he worshipped God, and believed in our Lord Jesus Christ; viz. because he was convinced by a calm reason that her doctrines were true, and her discipline, as near as might be, irreproachable.
I may state that I have verified and extended the references, and added a few notes which, I trust, are not irrelevant.
CAMBRIDGE, Oct. 9, 1851.
I. AFTER frequently turning over in my mind LECT. I. what subject I could best bring before you in my lectures, I came at length to the conclusion that it was well worth while to set forth from its very beginning the state of the Christian Church I have ever considered a thorough understanding on this point to be exceedingly necessary for putting an end to controversies in Theology.
Now the Church' I understand in the same sense in which Christ spoke of it, when he said
1 In Dodwell's edition of Bishop Pearson's 'Posthumous Works,' the Annals of S. Paul are placed before the Lectures on the Acts; Mr Churton however has inverted this arrangement; and in the absence of anything but conjecture to account for the course of either Editor, I have preferred that of the latter for the obvious reason that the Annals take up the history just at the point where the Lectures leave it.
But for Dodwell's arrangement, which is probably due to some knowledge of the Author's plan of writing, we might confidently have supposed that Bishop Pearson, who resigned his Professorship at Cambridge in the year that the Lectures were delivered, was unwilling to leave the intention of this Course of Lectures so incomplete, and compiled the Annals during the leisure of his episcopate that he might, as it were, fill up the broken end of his small but elaborate fragment of Ecclesiastical History.
LECT. I. to his Apostle, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I Matt. xvi. 18. will build my Church, where he refers to a thing as yet in the future; just as S. Luke refers to one in the past, And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. Therefore, between the time in which Christ spoke thus to Peter and that in which persons were added to the Church, the Church itself of which we speak was founded. In this sense S. Jerome writes of it, The Acts of the Apostles seem to sound like simple history, and to make up an account of the infancy of the Church in its earliest stage,' and Tert. de Præs. Tertullian, The Acts of the Apostles prove the
Hær. c. 22.
descent of the Holy Ghost, and those who1 do not receive this Scripture cannot be of the Holy Spirit: for they can neither be sure that the Spirit has yet been sent to the disciples; nor can they defend the Church, not having it in their power to prove when, and in what cradle that body was nurtured.'
Acts ii. 47.
II. Of the origin of this Church, which was gathered together according to the prediction and promise of Christ, the date must assuredly be fixed on the day of Pentecost that followed immediately after the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ: I begin then the more willingly from that point, inasmuch as some of our learned men, who with great industry have
1 Compare Augustine adv. Fel. Manich. c. 2, 3, 4.