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tical, he is to blame for allowing the possibility of mistake; and there certainly are many awkward phrases of this kind which produce a paradoxical effect, which ought to be removed in a second edition: nor does it appear to us that his second edition of the first number has at all received, in these respects, the verbal improvements which might have been cheaply bestowed upon it.
That he has been misunderstood in other matters is perhaps imputable chiefly to the extreme difference of mind between himself and his opponents. Of this also we will give one specimen. The following sentence is quoted, as containing his opinion of the moral and spiritual condition of every unmarried man, p. 393 :—“The meagre, heartless, nerveless, frivolous, or abstracted and visionary cælebs, make him a bishop! The very last thing he is fit for; let him rather trim the lamps and open the church doors, or brush cobwebs from the ceiling ! How should such a one be a father to the church ?' Now in fact Mr. I. Taylor most distinctly declares his belief that there are high services, for which unmarried men, by reason of their external disembarrassments, are far better suited than the married; and to this effect he formally expounds the well known decision of our Lord on this very matter; and yet there are honourably minded readers of his work, who seem unable so to understand the above sentence as not to make him directly contradict himself. For ourselves we must say, it had never occurred to us to interpret the coelebs as being any other character than the person on whom our author so dilates; i. e., the man who dedicates himself to virginity against his inclinations, under the idea that such abstinence is a high spiritual merit, a sacrifice of some wonderful unknown delight, which in consequence pesters his imagination in a way that monks know too well; who, farther, after the universally prescribed practice, betakes himself, not to active occupation, cheerful company, and virtuous female society, the obvious and only effectual help, but to severe fasting and solitary meditation. This is, we confidently say, an admirable recipe for producing an uneartbly, unnatural, unwise, visionary, or abandoned man. But that is a totally different thing from the false and absurd imagination, that such is the character generated by abstinence from marriage, under the circumstances in wbich, for instance, English Protestants abstain from it; i. e., from outward causes, or from want of inclination. Nor can we conceive that Mr. Isaac Taylor has for a moment confounded the two things.
We turn gladly to the part of his work which, while containing little or nothing positively new even to the English tongue, has had all the effect and value of originality; because our standard works either do not develope in combination the various phenoniena of the Nicene and ante-Nicene age, or shrink from dwelling on them, and deducing practical conclusions. Our
author has here drawn out various lines of thought, and has presented certain principles of investigation and tests of his assertions, which instantly commend themselves to the unsophisticated judgment; and which, to no small extent, show how any future historian of these times ought to approach the subject.
The Germans have plenty of works which furnish the modern reader with the materials of history; but the thing needed here is, so to fill out the picture of those times as rightly to impress the imagination; which certainly has been little done hitherto. But we shall perhaps best give our readers a conception of his fulness of discussion, by putting before them the headings of a series of chapters. Page 56. A Test of the Moral Condition of the Ancient Church, [i. e.
of the third, fourth, fifth, &c. &c. century.] 67. The Celibate-Earlier and Later. 104. Antiquity of the Opinions concerning Religious Celibacy. 145. Connexion of the Ancient Celibate with the Notions enter
tained of the Divine Nature in the Nicene Theology. - 175. Its Connexion with the Notions entertained of the Scheme
of Salvation. - 226. Some special Methods of estimating the Quality of the
Nicene Theology. - 277. The Rule of Religious Celibacy, as laid down in the New
Testament. - 299. The Ascetic Apostasy predicted in 1 Tim. iv. 313. The Extent of the Ascetic Institute, and the Sanction it
received from the Nicene Church. 333. The Opposition made to the Ancient Ascetism-Jovinian
and Vigilantius [the Reformers overpowered by Jerome,
Ambrose, and Augustine.] 347. Morkery and Miracle. 357. Moral Quality of the Ascetic Institute, as it affected the
Monks themselves. 371. Necessary Operation of an Ascetic Institute on the Mass of
Christians. - 379. The Indirect Influence of the Monastic Institute on the
Position of the Clergy. 388. The Direct Influence of the Celibate on the Clergy. 397. Connexion of the Ascetic Institute with Ritual Notions and
Practices. Vol. ii. p. 173. Christianized Demonolatry in the Fourth Century. 233. The Nicene Miracles determinative of the Present Con
troversy. 242. The Unknown Martyrs of Milan. - 272. The Bleeding Relics of St. Euphemia. - 277. The Invention of the Cross, and the Miracles therewith
connected. 316. Relics of St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr. - 356. Reasons for rejecting the Nicene Miracles.
The only instructive, as the only fair way of reading or writing ecclesiastical history is, to look through the whole mind of the times which we are surveying, and ascertain not only what the age thought upon one or two isolated subjects, but why it held them, and in what relation to other views, and what was the entire texture of its moral and spiritual sentiment, the nature of the arguments which convinced it, and the effects of its creed on its practice; how its institutions sprang out of (and bear witness to) the principles then at work, and in turn affected those principles. All these topics are but so many axioms in what is called profane' history: unfortunately, however, the application of them to ecclesiastical history is thwarted by sinister and base interests. Anglican divines, who desire to appeal to the ancient church' in defence of their own peculiarities, would fain represent the monkery, the celibacy, and the false miracles of the fourth century as isolated facts, which no more affect the soundness of mind of the church at large, than does Irvingism or (may we add ?) Puseyism in the present day. And herein they are assisted by the assumed analogy of that time to this ; as it is easy to persuade readers that things went on then as they do now. But an honourable or a judicious historian will investigate the fact ; and in the case before us, the very reverse is to a great degree true. Christianity now runs in numerous channels, for the most part separate, and by no means parallel to each other; so that the eccentricities of one school or sect may indicate nothing concerning the rest. But in the third and fourth century, the Church Catholic, so called, (for we neglect the heretics who contentedly remained outside her pale, as either not numerous or not noticed), the Church Catholic, we say, did not then boast causelessly of her Catholicity, if we expound the word to mean homogeneity of doctrine and sentiment through her whole body. Our author most distinctly sees, and powerfully sets forth, that this Ancient Church, from the third century downward, adopted as her own, and became thoroughly pervaded by, the feelings, doctrines, and practices which her Anglican admirers have generally been ashamed of, and have tried to throw into the background. Now that a school has arisen, which asserts that we are bound by the judgment of the ancient church, he most justly insists that we must take that authority as a whole, and must not hide that which in fact pervaded them. He has caused so great an outcry against himself, precisely by that which is his merit,--namely, that he has had the moral courage to dwell upon unpleasant topics, and by repeated recurrence to them, take care that they shall be remembered. Ile might, like Mosheim, have stated the same fact, once for all, and no one would have much cared, because it would pass by and bc forgotten. His real offence consists, in being resolved that both the facts themselves, and their practical bearing, shall be steadily kept in view. At the same time, we have no doubt that thousands will prefer to receive monkery and monkish miracles, rather than get into the swamps of dissent' by falling back unreservedly on really apostolic Christianity; and therefore, in a controversial sense, we should be sorry to be shut up entirely into that one line of argument which Mfr. I. Taylor has adopted"; and we regret that he has thought it requisite to cast 'some slight on the various methods of dealing with the adversary which others have chosen.
But we must avow, it is by no means in a controversial point of view that we chiefly value his labours ; indeed we have already shown, that as a controversialist, we do not regard him as very invulnerable.
But we do form the hope that, aided by the excitement of the controversy, his work will really lead to a more thorough and searching treatment of ecclesiastical history. It is not any decp or dark fact, however dark divincs
be about it, that each age has its own atmosphere, through which it sees truth, distorted into various forms, so that the divine reality is always more or less disfigured, though ncver entirely destroyed. Now of all human experience, no points of detail can be so important as this general result; and to warn us against errors of private judgment,' (for we are as keenly sensible of their existence as any Puseyite can be,) nothing is so valuable, as a clear perception of the source of the errors of public judgment.' Error in the mass, and developed on a large scale, becomes palpable and clear. Nor does any intellectual exercise so conduce to true candour, and so save us from unkind and stupid bigotry, as the habit of looking at the same objects from different points of view, not as we and our contemporaries or associates habitually view them, but as other men, equally sincere with ourselves, once viewed them.
Our author takes some paius to show how the Gnostic doctrine affected the church, and what was the source of its seductive power. We have no doubt that he is right in calling it a splendid theory, addressed to the imagination, and pretending to no argumentative proofs. Such a system, of course, has peculiar charms for ardent minds, who conceive that for the investigation of truth a pure soul is all and everything, and that experience and argument have no place in the higher region of theological thought. To a great extent, it must have appeared an appeal to grounds of faith closely similar to those on which the claims of Christianity were habitually based; its beauty as a divine philosophy, its purity, its adaptation to the most elevated feeling and sublime devotion. An age of arguinentative
evidences, like the present, may naturally feel it hard to conceive how the monstrous absurdities, called Valentinianism and Gnosticism in our ecclesiastical histories, ever succeeded in attracting attention ; much more, how they became dangerous rivals to orthodox Christianity; and this feeling often inspires a suspicion, that these old fathers have grossly misrepresented the notions which they oppose. We doubt not that they have drawn them with a coarse pencil; in short, have put everything in its least lovely light; but that is compatible with formal veracity. Mr. Taylor believes the Christian fathers, while opposing Gnosticism, to have involuntarily imbibed a Gnostic spirit, inasmuch as it is necessary to reason with an adversary from some common ground, and by methods of argument acknowledged on both sides. Whether this be admitted or not as the explanation, the fact appears to us undeniable, that there is a striking and alarming community of genius and feeling between the fathers of that age and their avowed adversaries. Without rejecting Mr. Taylor's hypothesis, we believe it rather to be a partial statement of a more general proposition. We would not so much say, that the Christians fearnt Gnostic feeling from controversy with Gnostics, as that the intellectual genius of the age itself was Gnostic, and that Christian teachers partook of it, in proportion as they were capable of intellectual effort, and disposed to philosophic thought.
The history of Christianity shows with peculiar vividness that there is a most intimate connexion (for good or evil) between the higher philosophy of every age, and the creed of its more cultivated minds. "Platonic views had, beyond a doubt, effected a lodgment in the church, even at the beginning of the second century; but it was not until its close, when the fame of the church of ALEXANDRIA began to spread, that the union became active and fruitful between philosophy without, and philosophy within the church. Strong and unchangeable as is our belief in the benefits of sound intellectual culture, we feel persuaded, not only that the church gained great mischief from that intercourse, but that the doctrines which she imbibed were in substance the very errors against which St. Paul warned the Colossians. She imbibed them at first the more unconsciously, because they had then so little definite shape, being often not so much defined doctrines as tacit fundamental assumptions, or as Mr. I. Taylor expresses it, a Gnostic feeling. Such was the first wide-spread corruption of Christianity, which our Author ably developes under many of the heads above noticed. But as his opponents have denied, and even derided his statements, as too absurd to need formal disproof, and have seemed to deserve credit themselves by pointing out some exaggerations on his part which do