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promoting his religion in the world; but not with a view to exclude any Christians, who were capable, from co-operating with them in the same good cause.” CAMPBELL, vol. i.
p Nothing but the eagerness to maintain, at allevents, a favourite hypothefis, could, it may be supposed, have prevented the able refuter of the sophistical Hume from adverting to the particular circumstances which accompanied the original delivery of the Apoftolic commiffion, and thence perceiving the objection to which such a mode of reafoning is palpably obnoxious. The word commission, from the verb committo, which in one of its leading fenfes fignifies to entrust, to give in charge, is thus illustrated by AINSWORTH, froin Cicero: “ Rem magnam difficilemque alicui committere.” But according to Dr. CAMPBELL'S use of this word, as applied to our SAVIOUR's commission delivered to his Apostles, we are to understand by it a commission of, no charge or office to particular persons, which might not be freely assumed and exercised by all; a sense, which if we mistake not, totally evacuates its established and peculiar meaning. We cannot, indeed, be surprised, that a minister, unable to trace his own commission from the proper fountain, should attempt to persuade the world, that no commiffion has been delivered, but what may be indiscriminately exercised; such a principle does not seem to be an improbable consequence of the original deviation from Apostolic practice. But that
such a latitudinarian principle should have been inculcated by a Professor from a theological chair, of which he claimed exclusive possession by virtue of a commission delivered to him for that purpose; and in a course of lectures, one principal object of which appears to have been the maintenance of the Presby. terian form of Church government, against the origi, nal Apostolical one of Episcopacy, is what could not have been believed, had not the fact been estahlished by record. Bụt were Dr. C. still living, we would take the liberty to ask one short question; which, if he could answer satisfactorily, we might begin to think his mode of reasoning on this occasion entitled to attention. If the particular appointment of certain chosen individuals, selected from a numerous body, to an important office, (as was the case in our SAVI. our's delivery of the commission to his Apostles) carries in it nothing in which we can discover a commission for their exclusive exercise of that office; it may be asked, on the principle that an all-wise Being does nothing in vain, why did such a particular appointment take place?
Had Profeffor CAMPBELL been a member of the corps diplomatique, and in that character written a treatise on the rights and privileges of ambassadors; and adopting a mode of reasoning similar to that here made use of, had he maintained, that the royal appointment of a certain individual to the representative office of an ambassador carried in it nothing, from which we could discover any right to the exclusive exercise of that office; but that, notwithstanding this particular appointment, the office still remained open to be exercised, ad libitum, by any individual who might think himself qualified to undertake it, or to affift in it; his brethren of the corps, it is presumed, would consider his treatise to be as little entitled to their thanks, as his argument was to their notice.
The able Reviewer of Dr. CAMPBELL's work in the Anti-Jacobin has illustrated the Doctor's mode of reasoning on this occasion by a different fimilitude; which, as it may strike some readers more forcibly, is here subjoined. It is not probable (fays the Reviewer) that his Majesty's commiffion to the President of the Supreme Court of Law in Scotland, expressly prohibits all other lawyers from executing that office to which it appoints him; and it is certainly not ima probable, that there are many lawyers at the Scotch bar perfectly tell qualified to preside over any court of law in that part of the united kingdom. Yet what would Dr. C. have thought of the man, who, having formed opinions of the courts of law similar to those which he had formed of the constitu. tion of the Christian Church, should have faid, * There is nothing in the commission given to the President of the Court of Seffion, from which we can discover, that it is a commission entrusted to him exclusively as a judge, and not given to him also as a lawyer; and that he is particularized in it, only bea cause he is best qualified for discharging the duties of the office; but not with a view to exclude any lawyer, who is capable, from occasionally taking possession of his chair, and presiding with authority over the court.”
Either of the above fimilitudes, it is presumed, is sufficient to expose the weakness of the ground on which the reasoning of Dr. C. stands; though it may prove infufficient to counteract the prevalency of the false principle built upon it. For unhappily, it is not the establishment of truth, so much as the support of opinion, that the generality of mankind are anxious to secure; and as the world is now circumstanced, the more latitudinarian that opinion is, the more wela come will be its reception. We are not, therefore, surprised to find the principle here alluded to daily gaining ground; and professed members of the Church becoming tools in the hands of those whose object it is to undermine it, by admitting the government of the Church to be a matter of “ doubtful opinion;" and consequently, that the communion of one class of Christians may be equally fcriptural with that of
But by a matter of doubtful opinion we understand a matter, which, upon competent investigation, does not furnish fufficient evidence to determine the judgment on either side. On such a matter a difference of opinion must subsist; and where it does, it is its own justification. For men may differ about an opinioni, Without either breach of charity, or of the unity of the Church; which requires not that all should precisely be of the same opinion, but of the same communion; and for this evident reason, because no difference of opinion among Christians, concerning matters really doubtful or not effential, can justify the pasitive sin of fcism. But if any point be admitted to be a doubtful one, only because a difference of opinion exists upon it, whether the point in question relate to the constitution of the Church or its doctrine, the human mind must be left in an equal state of general indecision with respect to its religious concerns. A state of mind which will ultimately introduce that dangerous error, to which MELANCTHON looked forward with ferious apprehension. " It was to be feared,” he said, “ that the time would come, wherein men would be tainted with this error; either that religion is a matter of nothing, or that the differences of religion are merely verbal.”
It is true indeed, with respect to points on which there is no determining standard of appeal, an opinion will be right or wrong, according to the order or caprice of the day; and what was right to day may, in conformity to the fluctuation of the public mind, be wrong to-morrow. But the question is, does the point under consideration admit of proof? And has that proof been fairly appreciated? If it have pot, the persons who, by occasional communion with different bodies of Christians, think proper to acta as fome members of the Church do, on the fupa