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of Strasbourg Dr. Trevern, have felt the imperative necessity of establishing the fact, before they could plead the DECISIONS.
Hence, with whatever success, they have alike manfully set their shoulders to the wheel: the one, in his Faith of Catholics confirmed by Scripture and attested by the Fathers of the five first centuries; the other, in his Amicable Discussion on the Anglican Church and generally on the Reformation.
Of each of these two writers, the object is the same: namely, AN ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FACT AL
LEGED BY THE TRIDENTINE FATHERS.
Their respective efforts I certainly deem a most lamentable failure : but still, so far as they are personally concerned, they have done nothing more, than what they felt themselves compelled to do. Upon all those who have made such matters their study, the Council has called, to establish, by historical testimony, the fact which the Council has asserted. I readily admit the invitation to be somewhat appalling: but the theological world will only, on that account, the more sincerely respect the undaunted courage of the two chivalrous individuals who have so promptly undertaken the adventure. If they fall in the lofty quest, they at least fall in the very act of performing their knightly devoir.
III. In the spring of the year 1825, an english gentleman of family and fortune, Mr. Massingberd of Gunby Park, with whom I have not the advantage of being personally acquainted, forwarded to me, from the south of France, a copy of the Amicable Discussion of Dr. Trevern, formerly Vicar-General of Langres, then Bishop of Aire, now Bishop of Strasbourg.
The copy, thus transmitted to me, was accompanied by a letter : in which Mr. Massingberd spoke, in the highest terms, of the Bishop's personal character; represented his Work, as having produced a very considerable sensation among the travelling English Laity; and, with a degree of perhaps flattering earnestness which I could scarcely have anticipated, requested me to an
On perusing the Work, I found, that Dr. Trevern's general argument, in favour of the Church of Rome and against the Church of England, was, in brief, to the following effect.
That which was taught by Christ and his Apostles, and that which was believed by the strictly
primitive Church from the very beginning on the professed ground that she had received it from Christ and his Apostles, must indisputably be the truth. But, with this well-ascertained primitive scheme of doctrine and practice, the Church of Rome agrees, and the Church of England disagrees. Therefore, the former must teach the truth, while the latter teaches falsehood.
This general argument, in favour of the Church of Rome and against the Church of England, rests upon no other, than a studied attempt to substantiate the FACT asserted by the Fathers of the Tridentine Council.
By such a process, the decisions of those Fathers are resolved, as they plainly ought to be resolved, into A NAKED HISTORICAL QUESTION OF FACT. And, accordingly, since it is admitted that the infallibility of Ecumenical Councils does not extend to FACTS OF HISTORY, the sole point to be decided is: Whether the doctrines and practices of the Roman Church, as propounded and explained by the Tridentine Fathers, have, or have not, the authority of Christ, the inculcating sanction of the Apostles, and the always unvarying practical testimony of universal primitive Antiquity from the very beginning.
IV. When a Roman Ecclesiastic perplexes an English Layman, by boldly asserting, or by speciously attempting to prove, the strict accordance of his Church, both in doctrine and in practice, with the Church which was immediately taught by the inspired Apostles : it is desirable, that the Layman, without the trouble of a research into documents not always very easily accessible, should be provided with a prompt and adequate reply.
1. A wish ; says Mr. Massingberd in his letter to myself : A wish to be able to answer the questions, repeatedly and triumphantly proposed by the Catholics upon topics of this description, is every where now reigning.
Thus speaks an intelligent Layman from actual experience : the object of my Work is, to furnish an easy reply to such questions, not merely in the present day, but at any future period whatsoever.
2. Your own theologians ; says Dr. Trevern to his english laic friend, whom his work is professedly intended to proselyte : Your own theologians, no less than ourselves, have in their hands the ancient Liturgies of the primitive Church and the Works of the early ecclesiastical writers : but they will have small inclination, I suspect, to bring
you acquainted with such documents. Ask them to communicate these documents to you : desire them to specify the opinions which they express.
You will soon find, that they take your request with no very good grace: and, in truth, to deal plainly with you, it is impossible that they should. Ah well, Sir, I will spare them their embarrassment: and, so far as you are concerned, I will go on to accomplish their defective ministrations.
Thus, in a tone preëminently modest and specially creditable to the integrity of the Anglican Priesthood, speaks the present Bishop of Strasbourg : the object of my Work is to furnish a permanent answer to the supposed embarrassing questions, which, at Dr. Trevern's suggestion, the English Laity might propound to the English Clergy.
V. In the first edition of this Work, at the request of Mr. Massingberd and in consequence of the high character which he gave of Dr. Trevern, I treated that individual with a degree of mildness and civility and forbearance, which has actually procured for me the censure of some members of my own Church. Whether
my conduct was proper or improper, I shall not undertake to determine: different opi