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They follow particular teachers, and call themselves after their names. We follow Christ only; even in following the old fathers, we follow them, not as if they were commissioned expounders, but simply as being witnesses of the truth once delivered, and to be followed in matters of necessary faith simply because and so far as they agree together. Their mutual agreement is the test of their being faithful witnesses, which is all we seek after; we attribute nothing to them as oracles of the truth, much less to individuals now-a-days. Let a man be gifted with eloquence, ready talent, deep penetration, vigorous grasp of mind; let him be amiable, sympathizing, winning; let him bear upon him the evidence of earnestness and disinterested piety; let him be zealous, active, patient, selfdenying ; let him have a noble heart, and a resolute hand, and many followers, yet if he keeps to the ancient truth it is well. But if he departs from it, that instant MenE and TEKEL are written upon his school. The ground crumbles from under bim, his rod of influence is broken, his glory is departed; he is
He has what he had not while he was a transmitter of Catholic Verities, a name ; and it is borne after him by his party as a witness against him and them.]
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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
RECORDS OF THE CHURCH.
THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH
Vincentius of Lerins on the Tests of Heresy and Error.
4. (c. 25.)
It follows, that he is the real and genuine Catholic, who loves God's truth, and the Church, and the body of Christ, who makes all things second to divine religion and the Catholic faith, whether the authority of private men or their amiable qualities, or their talent, or eloquence, or philosophy; but not regarding any of these, and remaining fixed and stedfast in the faith, deliberately maintains that, and that only, which the Church Catholic is known to have held every where from the beginning ; and considers as a temptation, not as a religious truth, whatever novelty has been secretly introduced by some. private hand, beside, or even contrary to, the Body of Saints. And, above all, as being taught by St. Paul, he receives that heresies must be, in order that the approved may become manifest among us, as if this were the reason why heresiarchs are not at once taken away by Divine Providence ; that the con
stancy of each of us, and fidelity, and steady love of Catholic truth may be ascertained. And, in fact, on the bursting forth of each novelty in its turn, then forthwith is discerned the weight of the corn, and the emptiness of the chaff; and so, without much trouble, the threshing-floor is cleared of whatever rubbish was contained in it. Some fly off at the instant; others are driven a certain way, but are afraid of perdition while they are ashamed to recant; and so they continue wounded, half dead, half alive, with just so much of the poison within them as is neither fatal nor yet is thrown off; neither kills nor suffers to live. Ah, miserable state of feverish and agitating anxiety ! At one time they are hurried aside as the wind drives them; at another they fall back again like ebbing waves : now with rash presumption they assent to doctrines which are but doubtful, now again they have a superstitious dread of what is unques. tionable; uncertain whither to go, whither to return; what to seek, to avoid, to maintain, to give up. Surely, this trouble of an unsettled heart is a medicine, if they are wise, sent to them by divine mercy. They are tossed, and beaten, and almost overwhelmed by the discordant currents of their own reasonings, while they remain out of the safe haven of the Catholic faith, in order that they may learn to gather in the sails of their pride, which are filled with the evil gales of novelty, and to betake themselves again to the secure station of their serene and loving mother, and to rid themselves of the bitter errors which they have swallowed, and so to drink, in future, the streams of living water. Let them unlearn worthily what they unworthily learned, mastering the Church's doctrine as far as it is level to the reason, submitting where it is above it.
(How accurate a description is the above of many amiable persons of the present day, who, instead of a single and noble maintenance of Catholic truth, try to unite in their creed things incompatible, and are ever spoiling their own excellences by timidity, weakness, or presumption! Nay, how true a description is it of our Church itself, not as it was intended to be, but as it actually has become in these dark and secular days! Do not we hover about our ancient home, the home of Cyprian and Athanasius, without the heart to take up our thode in it, yet afraid to quit the sight of it; boasting of our Episcopacy, yet unwilling to condemn separatism ; claiming a descent from the Apostles, yet doubting of the gifts attending it; and trying to extend the limits of the Church for the admission of Wesleyans and Presbyterians, while we profess to be exclusively primitive ? Alas! is not this to witness against ourselves, like coward sinners who hope to serve the world, without giving up God's service ?]
5. (c. 27. 33. 34.) “O Timothy,” the Apostle says, “guard the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words !" ... Who is Timothy in this day, but the Church universal, or, in particular, the whole body of its rulers, who ought both themselves to have and to teach others the sound inviolate knowledge of religious duty ? What means "guard the deposit ?" Guard it, he says, because of thieves, of enemies, lest, while men sleep, they sow tares upon that, good seed of wheat, which the Son of man has sown in His field. “Guard the deposit.” What is the deposit? That which is committed to thee, not discovered by thee; what thou hast received, not struck out; a subject not of talent, but of instruction : not of private judgment, but of public tradition ; that has come to thee, not from thee; in which thou shouldest display not originality, but safe custody; not as a master, but as a scholar; not as a leader, but a follower. “Guard the deposit.” Preserve the talent of Catholic faith inviolate, entire. As thou hast received it, so let it remain with thee, so let it pass from thee. Gold thou hast received, be it gold that thou payest back. I will have no base coin palmed upon me, no shameless lead, no fraudulent brass, no outward seeming without the reality. O Timothy, priest, expositor, doctor, if a divine gift has made thee sufficient for these things, in ability, in practice, in learning, be thou the Bezaleel of the spiritual tabernacle, polish the precious stones of the divine word, set them with fidelity, embellish them with skill, add brilliancy, elegance, beauty; what was before believed obscurely, be it illustrated by thy exposition ; what antiquity but darkly venerated, let posterity learn from thee to apprehend, ever remembering so to teach what thou hast learned, that the teacher be new, not the teaching. “Shunning profane
novelties of words." "Shun," he says, “as if a viper, or scorpion, or basilisk, whose very sight and breath-not touch only-may blast thee." Shun, in what way? " With such a one, no, not to eat." “ If any one come to you, and bringeth not this doctrine;"- What doctrine, but the Catholic and universal, that one and the same doctrine remaining age after age by an incorrupt tradition of the truth, and ever so to remain on into everlasting ages ? To proceed : " receive him not into your home, nor give him greeting; for he who gives him greeting, shares in his evil works." Profane novelties of words;" that is, such as have nothing sacred or religious in them ; such as are altogether outside the Church's shrine, which is the temple of God, "Novelties of words ;" that is, of doctrines, subjects, statements, contrary to antiquity. If these be admitted, the creed of the Sainted Fathers must necessarily be violated, in whole or part; all believers of all ages, all the saints, all the religious brethren, and virgin sisters, all the clergy, Levites and priests, so many thousand of Confessors, so many armies of martyrs, so many populous cities and countries, so many islands, provinces, kings, nations, kingdoms, families, nay almost the whole compass of the world, incorporated, as it is through the Catholic faith, into Christ the head, in so long a series of years, must necessarily be judged to have been ignorant, to have erred, to have blasphemed.
“ Profane novelties ;" such, namely, as were never "followed or admitted by Catholics, but by heretics ever. For in good sooth, when was there ever an heresy, which did not spring up under a certain designation, at a certain place, at a certain time? Who ever established a heresy, except he first separated himself from the accordant voice of Catholic universality and antiquity? The fact is clearer than day, as instances show. Who, before the profane Pelagius, ever claimed such power for the will, as to deny that the grace of God was necessary to aid it in the particular acts of obedience ? Who, before his marvellous disciple Celestius, ever denied that the whole human race was brought under the guilt of Adam's sin ? Who, before the blasphemer Arius, dared to divide in his creed the Unity