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The book that stands first on our list comes to us with very considerable pretensions. Though printed in Edinburgh, it is published in London, and therefore is intended for larger circulation than the Presbyterian bodies in Scotland : as such, it challenges notice. The design the author had in view for publishing this work seems to be, to consider the bearing on the Presbyterian system of the recently discovered work of Hippolytus, and the Syriac copy of Ignatius' Epistles edited by Dr. Cureton. Generally speaking, the Presbyterian body is profoundly ignorant of Patristic theology and Ecclesiastical history: their “fathers” are Calvin, and Knox, and the Melvilles; their history the period of the Reformation : all before this is the darkness of Popery, mountains shrouded in a Scotch mist, which distorts and enlarges common objects, till the most familiar things become terrible.
Dr. Killen, however, boldly steps in to enlighten his Presbyterian friends, and to assure them, on his authority, that they may rest quite secure in their old opinions; that these recent discoveries, which have engaged the attention of the learned in Europe, do not at all disturb the Presbyterian position. It is, however, very useful to read a book of this kind : one comes to understand an adversary's line of thought and mode of argument. It is a truth that we too often neglect to remember, that it is almost impossible for a member of one religion to write a history of another faith differing from his own; he is influenced by his own preconceived notions upon certain points, and cannot see them in any other light than that in which he has been accustomed to look at them. From his point of view these facts fully bear out his scheme, and he sits down contented. We hold it to be quite impossible for any man, unless brought up in the system of the Church, and with the Church system inwrought into his mind, to write a true history of the Church ; just as we believe it impossible for a Churchman to give a faithful history of Presbyterianism, or any other Protestant sect. A Churchman may be able to point out errors and dispute alleged facts; but, unless he has imbibed the spirit of the sect, he cannot write its history. Far more is this true of the history of the Church. The Church is so wholly sui generis, that a man must be thoroughly imbued with its spirit before he can apprehend its history. A striking instance of this may be seen by taking up Milner's Church History: though a Churchman, he lived in days when Church principles were almost unknown; he was therefore incompetent to apprehend its real spirit. Without, perhaps, meaning to distort history, he has most effectually done so. Dr. Killen naturally falls into many mistakes from this cause; besides, he has a purpose in view, which is to make early Church history a witness for Presbyterianism, which compels him to distort it in his own direction. What can we think of a man who gravely calls SS. Timothy and Titus “chairmen” or “moderators of the presbytery of Ephesus and Crete ? or who conjectures that Polycarp's visit to Rome was not primarily to settle the Paschal controversy, but to remonstrate with Victor, who was engaged in developing Episcopacy out of this chairmanship or moderatorship ? No historian has mentioned, or even hinted, that the aged martyr did so remonstrate, till 1859, when Dr. Killen announces this long hidden historical fact.
lain has as much power as a priest, the priest as the bishop (II. 590); in another place we are informed that the inmates of a religious house were “priests, clergy, and laymen." (II. 90.) In Vol. I. p. 330, he comes upon a Latin sentence, “dno Reynbardo Epo Wormaciensi ;' the unfortunate translator found this too much for him, so he cuts the Gordian knot, or rather the poor bishop, fairly in two, and writes the sentence “ duo Reyn. Epo," a clear case of two single gentlemen rolled into one, whom Mr. Menzies kindly separates. Next, we have some very curious specimens of English ; for instance, we have, “ There is an indwelling power in the Pope to emit the Church which is substantially hierarchical from himself." (Vol. I. p. 175.) “ There are . . . several decrees of the Ecclesiastical Synod of Constance which are classcial in this respect.” (171.) “Members of the university should take an oath ... to obtemper this edict.” (II. 306.) A person “ has been convicted to die by fire.” (342.) Then we have the curious word * protigees," for protégés, A translator ought to know something of the subject of the book he undertakes to translate.
“ When this change,” (i. e. when the 'moderator' was developing into a Bishop,) " the venerable Polycarp was still alive ; and there are some grounds for believing that, when far advanced in life, he was induced to undertake a journey to Rome, on a mission of remonstrance. This view is apparently corroborated by the fact that his own Church of Smyrna did not now adopt the new polity; for we have seen that, upwards of a quarter of a century after his demise, it still continued under Presbyterial government. Irenæus was obviously well acquainted with the circumstances which occasioned this extraordinary visit of Polycarp to Rome ; but had he not come into collision with the pastor of the great city, in the controversy relating to the Paschal Feast, we might never have heard of its occurrence. Even when he mentions it, he observes a mysterious silence as to its main design. (?) The Paschal question awakened little interest in the days of Polycarp, (?) and among the topics he discussed with Anicetus when at Rome, it confessedly occupied a subordinate position. (?) “When,' says Irenæus, “the most blessed Polycarp came to Rome in the days of Anicetus, when as to certain other matters they had a little controversy, they were immediately agreed on this point (of the Passover) without any disputation.' (Euseb. v. 24.) What 'the certain other matters' were which created the chief dissatisfaction we are left obscurely to conjecture.” (P. 556.)
On these words, “ certain other matters,” Dr. Killen forms a fabric of conjecture against episcopacy. But this is to write history! Again :-
“The allegation that Presbyterial government existed in all its integrity towards the end of the second century does not rest upon the foundation of obscure intimation or doubtful inference. It can be established by direct and conclusive testimony. Evidence has been already adduced to show that the Senior Presbyter of Smyrna continued to preside until the days of Irenæus, and there is also documentary proof that meanwhile he possessed no autocratical authority. The supreme power was still vested in the Council of the Elders. The point is attested by Hippolytus, who was just now entering on his eccle. siastical career, and who, in one of his works, a fragment of which has been preserved, describes the manner in which the rulers of the Church dealt with the heretic Noetus. The transaction probably occurred about A.D. 190 ..... He said that CHRIST is Himself the FATHER, and that the FATHER Himself had been born and had suffered and died. When the blessed Presbyters heard these things they summoned him and examined him before the Church.”
And a little further on
“The blessed Presbyters again summoned him and administered a rebuke.”
"Then they rebuked him and cast him out of the Church.”—Pp. 516, 517.
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Here upon the well-known fact that presbyters formed always the Bishop's council, whom, on all special occasions, the Bishop consulted, Dr. Killen builds up his theory that Episcopacy was unknown in the first two centuries. Had he taken the trouble to inquire how matters were transacted in the two countries where the Church is not established by law, but left to her own canons, viz., Scotland and America, he would have seen that Presbyters at this day occupy exactly the like position in Diocesan Synods that they occupied in the second century. Dr. Killen has the less excuse in this matter, as in the country where his work is printed, the proceedings in some of the Diocesan Synods have made noise enough lately.
Equally ignorant is he of the nature of the Chorepiscopi, whom he supposes to have been merely presbyters of country parishes; and when he finds a canon forbidding them to confer orders on their own authority, he draws the conclusion that the city presbyters (of course he means the Diocesan Bishops who possessed jurisdiction) were arrogating to themselves an unwarrantable authority and importance. Blunders of the like sort will be found in his remarks on Metropolitans and their authority. Again, his estimate of the importance of the Paschal controversy, which he rates as most trivial, yet which we know had at last to be settled at a General Synod, all show how little a person educated in Presbyterian principles can enter into the idea of the Church at any period of its existence; and how completely the fact of such education prevents
him from taking an impartial view, or of comprehending the motives that influenced the men of those times. One sentiment of Dr. Killen we thoroughly endorse, and only wish that such as he acted more strictly in its spirit; “ There is a far more intimate connexion between sound theology and sound criticism, for a right knowledge of the Word of God strengthens the intellectual vision, and assists in the detection of error, wherever it may reveal itself.” Dr. Killen uses these words with respect to the Epistles of Ignatius, and draws this conclusion : “Had Pearson enjoyed the same clear views of Gospel truth as the Reformer of Geneva, he would not have wasted so many precious years in writing a learned vindication of the nonsense attributed to Ignatius. Calvin knew that an apostolic man must have been acquainted with apostolic doctrine, and he saw that those letters must have been the productions of an age when the pure light of Christianity was greatly obscured.” Having made up his mind as to what apostolic doctrine is, he pronounces all departure from it either a forgery of later times, as the Ignatian Epistles; or corruption early creeping into the Church, as in other instances which we shall quote-a most convenient doctrine. On this supposition, what heresy could not be made to be the truth?
We believe that Dr. Killen undertook to write this history to meet the damaging effects on Presbyterianism produced by Dr. Cureton's Syriac Epistles of Ignatius. The epistles of S. Ignatius had always been fatal to Presbyterianism. When Dr. Cureton's recension was announced a great expectation was formed that these Shorter Epistles would be found adverse to the claims of the Church; and when they were published, and were found to contain, even in their mutilated form, the clear statements of the doctrine of the Apostolical succession and the power of the Episcopate, then it became necessary to assert that they were altogether forgeries.
Another thing has to be accounted for, viz. the rise of Episcopacy; if Presbyterian government is of the appointment of CHRIST, and was arranged and settled by the Apostles on Divine authority, whence came it that Episcopacy prevailed over all the Church, and was and still is regarded as of Divine institution ? Dr. Killen answers, that the “ moderator" or "chairman ” of the presbytery gradually assumed aristocratic powers, till the Presidentship at last came to be regarded as a separate order ; and, secondly, that the rise of heresy made it desirable to give extensive powers to the moderator in order to insure unity. We cannot help expressing our astonishment at hearing this latter reason from a Presbyterian writer of the nineteenth century: certainly he could not have given a stronger moral reason for the adoption of Episcopacy; when we see the hundreds of sects in our country and America which have developed, and are every day developing, from the apūrov būdos of “parity of ministers," first broached in the sixteenth century, compared with the unity which has prevailed in the Reformed Catholic Church in these countries, a unity still maintained, despite all disputes and dissensions, which have so often threatened it. He must see that in saying this he was giving a reason fatal to his own position and that of his sect. While, with regard to the first, he is called upon to explain from history, and to prove from history, how a development, which he maintains commenced at Rome, at the end of the second century, but was not a fait accompli until far into the middle of the third, became an article of faith and practice in all the churches of the East and West, from the remote British Isles to the confines of India: if the changeable and progressing West developed its Churches into the Episcopal form, how it was that the unchangeable and immovable East, so easily adopted the same. But Dr. Killen goes further, and here, as is not uncommon with men who multiply argument to prove a false position, he proves too much. He says that as the moderatorship developed into Episcopacy and the Episcopate developed into the Papacy : as it was expedient for stopping beresies to set up in each diocese a head to preserve unity, so it became expedient to develop the Bishop of Rome into a Pope, a Bishop of Bishops, a head of heads. Dr. Killen forgets here the testimony of the East; and this forgetfulness is fatal to his whole argument against the Divine rights of Episcopacy ; for in the East there was far more need of a Papacy, of an infallible head, of a centre of unity, than in the West; for here heresy took a more decided form and more regular organization than in the West : in the latter Novatianism and Donatism died out, but in the East Nestorianism and Eutychianism lived and still live, as regularly-organized Churches. Dr. Killen shows in many other points besides this that he has never studied the history of the Eastern Churches-a deficiency shared by other superficial writers on Church History.
Let us look a little closer at Dr. Killen's argument about Episcopacy. We give the benefit of the author's capitals and italics.
“But perhaps the most pointed, and certainly the most remarkable, testimony of the fact that a change took place in the constitution of the Roman Church in the time of Hyginus is furnished from a quarter where such a voucher might have been, least of all, anticipated. We allude to the Pontifical Book. This work has been ascribed to Damasus, the well-known Bishop of the Metropolis of the West, who flourished in the fourth century, but much of it is unquestionably of later origin; and though many of its statements are apocryphal, it is often quoted as a document of weight by the most distinguished writers of the Roman communion. Its account of the early popes is little better than a mass of fables ; but some of its details are evidently exaggerations, or rather caricatures of an authentic tradition; and a few grains of truth may be discovered here and there in a heap of fictions and anachronisms. This part of the production contains one brief sentence