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and if there be any value in such kind of testimony in relation to a Bible question, then that testimony is all in favour of the doctrine advo cated in these pages.


There is another class of historical facts, belonging to the early ages of christianity, which our subject requires us to state, and to which we now invite the reader's attention. It was not the want of an authoritative Creed, which opened the door for heretics to enter; neither have such Creeds ever kept heresy out of the church. In defiance of the Nicene Creed, Arians would be Arians still; and with that very Creed in his hand, Arius himself, unconvinced, unchanged, and in every thing, it would seem, too subtle for the orthodox, having regained his privileges, carried on his own intrigues. It is altogether a mistake to suppose, that these ecclesiastical documents, are unsuspected, and untreacherous guardians of the truth. They never protected truth, nor promoted unity; they never gave health to the church's soul, nor grace and beauty to the church's form; they never hushed contention, nor reconciled conflicting opinions, since they were first introduced. They do none

of these things now; but, as of old, they do at this day tarnish the beauty, distract the peace, and cripple the efforts, of the church of God. They did then, and they do now, set brothers at variance, and teach them to divide their inheritance on unfair principles, and in the midst of strife and discord. And these things they will always do, while they are permitted to regulate ecclesiastical matters, and divide the church into voluntary associations.

Philosophical, or scholastic theology, as it is called, furnishes a very large proportion of those materials, from which the ecclesiastical historian must make up his details. The reader, who has turned his attention to this subject, and examined the early records of ministerial enterprise, must have discovered how soon theologians were decoyed from the simplicity of religious truth, and the evenness of religious manners, and were led astray into devious paths by philosophy, as their ignis fatuus. He has been perusing the confused and forbidding annals of heresy. He has been holding communion with men whose speculations corrupted the doctrines, and whose ambition stabbed the peace, of the church. And if he has applied the information he has acquired, amid the most painful emotions, to this subject under discussion, he will readily pardon the scruples we have expressed. Such a course of inquiry bas put him in possession of a great variety of facts, which, when compared with the present state of theological science, must have conducted him into a train of observa

tions, similar to those we are now making. We cannot conceive how he should escape the impression, which we suppose such studies must necessarily make If any one of our readers is surprised by this intelligence, he is bound to postpone at least his censure, until he has for himself investigated that branch of ecclesiastical history to which we refer.

During the first century, Dr. Mosheim informs us, that "the method of teaching the sacred doctrines of religion, was most simple, far removed from all the subtile rules of philosophy, and all the precepts of human art:"That "all who professed firmly to believe that Jesus was the only Redeemer of the world, and who, in consequence of this profession, promised to live in a manner conformable to the purity of his holy religion, were immediately received among the disciples of CHRIST. This was all the preparation for baptism then required; and a more accurate instruction in the doctrines of christianity was to be administered to them, after their receiving that sacrament."-"The christians took all possible care to accustom their children to the study of the scriptures, and to instruct them in the doctrines of their holy religion; and schools were every where erected for this purpose, from the very commencement of the christian church."*


In his account of the second century, our historian remarks,-"The christian system, as it *Vol. 1, p.p. 113–116.

was hitherto taught, preserved its native and beautiful simplicity, and was comprehended in a small number of articles. The public teachers inculcated no other doctrines, than those that are contained in, what is commonly called, the Apostles' Creed; and, in the method of illustrating them, all vain subtilties, all mysterious researches, every thing that was beyond the reach of common capacities, were carefully avoided. This will by no means appear surprising to those who consider, that, at this time, there was not the least controversy about those capital doctrines of christianity, which were afterwards so keenly debated in the church; and who reflect, that the bishops of these primitive times were, for the most part, plain and illiterate men, remarkable rather for their piety and zeal, than for their learning and eloquence.

“This venerable simplicity was not, indeed, of a long duration; its beauty was gradually effaced by the laborious efforts of human learning, and the dark subtilties of imaginary science. Acute researches were employed upon several religious subjects, concerning which ingenious decisions were pronounced; and, what was worst of all, several tenets of a chimerical philosophy were imprudently incorporated into the christian system. This disadvantageous change, this unhappy alteration of the primitive simplicity of the christian religion, was chiefly owing to two reasons; the one drawn from pride, and the other from a sort of necessity. The former was the eagerness of certain learned men to bring about

a union between the doctrines of christianity, and the opinions of the philosophers; for they thought it a very fine accomplishment, to be able to express the precepts of CHRIST in the language of philosophers, civilians and rabbins. The other reason that contributed to alter the simplicity of the christian religion, was, the necessity of having recourse to logical definitions and nice distinctions, in order to confound the sophistical arguments which the infidel and the heretic employed, the one to overturn the christian system, and the other to corrupt it."*

In the third century appeared ORIGEN, who, according to our historian, was the most eminent man of his day, "whether we consider the extent of his fame, or the multiplicity of his labours;a presbyter and catechist of Alexandria, a man of vast and uncommon abilities, and the greatest luminary of the christian world that this age exhibited to view. Had the justness of his judgment been equal to the immensity of his genius, the fervor of his piety, his indefatigable patience, his extensive erudition, and his other eminent and superior talents, all encomiums must have fallen short of his merit. Yet such as he was, his virtues and his labours deserve the admiration of all ages; and his name will be transmitted with honour through the annals of time, as long as learning and genius shall be esteemed among men."

After such a high wrought eulogium on the character of Origen, from the pen of Dr. Mosheim,

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