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being of these eoiporatiotis , the word liad been in use , and applied to ecclesiastical and civil-law purposes . Applied to literary bodies , it was a mere l . . ;
accommodation , and readily , instantaneously made : and the disputes of some learned men about the origin and antiquity of our oldest universities are a mere strife of words with little of mean- . > .
ing . These learned men cannot even inform us , where the history of their universities begins : it is involved in at least as much obscurity as Tufant Baptism is ; taking both of them , as I do , for
human institutions . Your correspondent , too , seeitfs ( perhaps only seems ) to be held in surprise at the obscurity of certain phcenomena , which may be clearer to persons of as pure an organ of intellectual vision as his own .
So , again , the English Constitution is to be recognized rather as an effect , than a cause . From whatever point we contemplate it , whether at the Revolution or Restoration , at the Reformation or the Conquest , at the giving or confirming of Magna Charta—from
whatever point we choose to contemplate it , we are compelled to consider it not as a standing , but as a flowing point ; as a consequence , not as a precedence ; as a gradual process from something in existence , not as a subitaneous contrivance of consummate wisdom at
a given ti in . e ; as a constitution of things , of which we can no more ascertain the beginning , than we can foresee the catastrophe * Montesquieu , therefore , after all his eulogiums on it , is obliged to leave it abruptly and in confusion . " This noble system , " says he , " was found in the vvoodsJ '*
Even of that part of this system that we are accustomed to admire so much , the representative part , we should find it no easy matter to ascertain the origin . It is full of obacurity , and writers of much thought and learning , who have differed in their opinions about
it , have appealed to the same statutes , in favour of their opposite opinions - , in the same manner as the Jesuits and Jansenists , the Lutherans and Calvinists , and all the various opposing sects , appeal to the same primitive authorities , to the same original
Scripposent existence , Origines de I Universit y de PcftiSj | mr Mons . Cfrevier . Observations exactly similar i ? these will apply to th ? Universities of Oxford atod Caittlfridge . ? Esprit des loix , Ch . vi ; L . ii .
tures"j \ and in the same manner as we have sfeeri Mr . Robinson and Mr . Belsham appeal to TVjrtullteii . Remarks similar to these would apply to the origin of roost Christian Churches , how celebrated soever they afterwards became in history . Tft #
beginning of them rests in an obscurity not unlike that which involves Infant Baptism * Mr . Robinson sensibly remarks , " The obscurity of the history of almost all Ch ristianChurches affords a high degree of probability that the first disciples of Jesus were a few plain men , beneath the notice of the magistrate and the historian / ' No
one can ascertain when the first African Church was formed . Churches grew up seiisim sine sensu , and were not visible till they reached to a certain
. - And here , by the bye , while alluding to the obscurity of the origin of Infant Baptism , I am reminded of another significant remark of Mr . Robinson ' s . " Strictly speaking , it lies upon those who practise Infant Baptism , to shew
how they came by US * I think it must have appeared how little can be said for its origin on Augustine ' s ground of apostolical authority , particularly as Tertullian turns the argument quite the other way ; for he positively ascribes
the origin of the Trine Immersion of Adults to apostolical tradition . * Did they both , then , though opposed to each other , as well in mode as subject , origin ate in apostoli cal authority ? Trine Immersion of Adults was
unquestionably practised both among Unitarians and Trinitarians , and more generally than Infant Baptism ; and I should think it better to speak , as I think most of your readers will , after St . Basil on this subject , than after Tertullian . |
IIline si nulla bcriptura determinavii , certe corisuetudo corroboravit , qua ; sine tlubio de traditione manavit . *—This passage , by the bye is itself a proof that Tertullian could know nothing- of an apostolical tradition in favour of Infant Bapitsm .
+ Fluxit igjtu-r k traditione ootisuetiido ilia ecclesiastica , quie quantum vis corroborata ., potuit tamen infirmari - JBasiitus quklem incertus unde fuerit induclus ille ritus ro ^ at uude traditum sit hoiniriem ter
4 mmergi debere . Non i gfitur velut apostolicuiii , ant ipsius Christi mandatnm perpetua ob ^ crvatione colenda fuit Tnua . Iinmersio . See Robinson ^ Hist . Bapt . y . 168 , 'Notes .
On iHTn BelshanCs " Pled for Infant Baptim" S $
VO 3 L . XXV . IT
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1819, page 33, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1768/page/33/