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his mysteries, accommodating my account to thine own fashions. , Here is the mount, beloved of God, not the scene of tragic miseries, as Cithæron, but a stage for truth to act upon, a holy mount, overshadowed with chaste and temperate groves. No Bacchantes revel here, with cruel rites, but the daughters of GODhold festival, the pure, the gracious, divine songstresses of the awful mysteries of the Word, with their modest band of worshippers. That band are the just ones: the song is a hymn in honour of the Almighty King. Virgins are singing it, angels are heralding it, prophets are repeating it. The chant sounds abroad; those who are called hurry to the gathering, they hasten on, desiring to regain their Father. Thou, too, aged one, thou too must join us, leaving thy Thebes, abjuring thy sooth-saying ; put out thy hand, and let us lead thee to the truth. Hasten, O Tiresias?, believe. He shall shine upon thy blind eyes more cheerily than the sun, through whom the eyes of the blind see.. O mysteries of truest holiness! O unsullied Light! The sacred torches go before me, while I am brought into the presence of the heavens and God himself; my initiation places me among the holy ones. The LORD instructs me in his sacred rites ; he seals his teachers with his illuminating guidance, and delivers over such as trust him to his Father, to be preserved for ever. He is everlasting, Jesus the one SAVIOUR, the Great High Priest of the one God his Father, who intercedes for men, and who is their teacher. ... .. . ..
1 A mountain where the heathen revels were held. · A heathen prophet.
iiis OXFORD, The Feast of St. Peter.
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THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH
Tertullian's account of the Rule of Faith. TertuLLIAN was born at Carthage, in Africa, a heathen ; but when he grew up he was converted to Christianity. At length he became a priest, either of the Church of Carthage, or of Rome; it is uncertain which. That is, it is uncertain whether, as we now speak, he took orders in Carthage or Rome; whether he was ordained by the Bishop of Carthage or of Rome. For at that blessed time the whole extent of Christendom was as closely united as the different parts of England are; so that it was all one from which of the bishops of the Church Catholic a Christian was ordained for the ministry. Rome was at that time not more divided from Carthage, or from Corinth, or from Ephesus, or from Jerusalem, than Winchester from London, or Durham, or Oxford, or Norwich. It was natural, indeed, for many reasons, that a man should receive orders from the Church in which he lived ; but on fitting reasons a Carthaginian, like Tertullian, might receive his commission from the Bishop of Rome, just as now a native of London, for instance, may become a priest of the Church of Oxford.
This one Christian body, called sometimes Christendom, (which means the kingdom of Christ,) sometimes the Church Catholic, (which means the incorporate society of Christians in all lands, as descended from the Apostles, and governed by the bishops, their representatives,) consisted in the early times of two great portions, those who spoke Greek, and those who spoke Latin, which are sometimes familiarly called the Greek and the Latin Churches. Not that they were really divided, more than
the Welsh Dioceses are from the English, but for conveniencesake they were considered as two, according to their respective languages. Writers, from whose works extracts have as yet been made in these Records, all spoke Greek, or (as it is said) were of the Greek Church; Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, and the rest: as to the Christians of Lyons, &c. they were Greeks living in France, at that time a barbarous country. But Tertullian is a writer of the Latin Church; indeed he is the oldest of those whose works have come down to us, having been born about A.D. 160, only sixty years after St. John's death.
Tertullian's works, which have come down to us, are partly defences of Christianity and of the orthodox faith, and partly moral treatises. They are chiefly valuable, as witnesses of the state of the Church so short a time after the Apostles; as witnesses of what the Church then believed, taught, observed ; as witnesses to the Creed as we hold it at this day, to Episcopacy, the Apostolical Succession, the Ceremonial of Religion, &c. His own authority indeed is small; for though very powerful as a writer, he was not a sound divine ; was extravagant, nay even heterodox, in some of his opinions, and at length fell away into one of the heresies of his time. But all this, of course, does not interfere at all with the value of his writings as bearing testimony to facts, to the existing condition of the Church. And, moreover, as he writes ably, he is instructive on particular subjects, even though he is not a safe guide on the whole.
The work, from which an extract follows, was written when he was about forty years old, and may be called in English, “ The Church's Plea (or Demur) against Dissenters." Tertullian's argument is this. “You who dissent from the Church,” he says, “ are confuted by the very novelty of your doctrine. The true doctrine must be old, and cannot be new; now the Church and its doctrines, which you despise, are much older than all your sects and their respective doctrines. Nay, the Church is as old as the Apostles; it was founded all over the world by the Apostles; and transmits down, from age to age, the doctrines which it received from them. But from whom did you receive your doctrine ? Not from the Church, for you have gone out of it. Trace it up even for a few years, if you can ; much less can
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
you trace it up to the Apostles. In truth, your doctrine began with you, or at least with your immediate teachers : where was it before ? Was it hidden from the Church, that doctrine which Christ commanded should be set up on high among the faithful, like a light within a house? Impossible : it plainly began with you: we can put our finger on the date of its birth ; and therefore it is false : for Christ and His Apostles "planted" (1 Cor. iii.) the true Gospel, according to the will of the Father ;
planted, shall be rooted up.'” Such is the argument of the work from which the following passages are extracted ; which obviously contain an instructive lesson for this day.
[The Separatists of Tertullian's age urged the words of our Lord, “ Seek, and ye shall find,” in proof that they might allowably strike out their own views (though novel) from the sacred text: he says upon this :-)
“ Let us grant it has been said to all, ' Seek and ye shall find;' yet even as to these very words it is convenient to discuss their meaning with some guide of interpretation. No divine saying is so vague and extended, that its mere words are to be adhered to, and their real drift not determined. Now, in the first place, I lay down this proposition: that doubtless some one certain faith was instituted by Christ, which the nations ought by all means to believe ; and, in seeking to find it, to seek with the purpose of
definite appointment (of God) must surely have an end some where or other. You are to seek until you find, and believe
keep what you have believed ; this being in fact one part of your belief, viz. that there is nothing farther to be believed, nor therefore to be sought; inasmuch as you have found and believed that which was appointed by Him, who does not set you to seek any thing else but what he has appointed. I will presently make
good, to the satisfaction of all doubters, that we have that in our possession which was appointed by Christ. In the mean time, from confidence in the proof, I anticipate so far as to admonish certain persons that they have nothing to seek beyond what they have already accepted ; that that is what they were bound to seek : so that they must not interpret without consideration of the import of the words, “Seek, and ye shall find.'
“But the import of this saying is determined by three particulars; the matter, the time, the manner : by the matter, that you should consider what is to be sought; by the time, when it is to be sought; by the manner, how far. Now that is to be sought, which Christ instituted ; then, of course, when you do not find it, so long, of course, until you find it. But you have found it, when you have attained to belief, for you would not have believed, if you had not found; as neither would you have sought, unless that you might find. For where shall inquiry come to an end? where faith take her stand? where discovery gain her discharge? With Marcion? nay, Valentinus also sets up 'seek, and ye shall find. With Valentinus ? nay, Apelles too will beset me with the same declaration : and Hebion, and Simon, and all, one after another, have nothing else but this same text, by which to insinuate themselves into my approbation, to bind me to their cause. I shall therefore come to no result, while I meet on every side, 'seek, and ye shall find.'
[To understand the above argument, it must be borne in mind that at baptism the Creed was committed to and accepted by the new Christian. Thus the time of belief was a certain definite date, to which Tertullian refers. It must be observed also, that the persons he speaks to were Separatists, who had been baptized in the Church, not regular hereditary Dissenters.]
“ Although we were to be for ever inquiring, yet where ought we to seek ? Among heretics, where all is extraneous and adverse to the truth we hold, whom we are forbidden to approach ? What servant expects food from one who is a stranger, not to