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b&rrenneSs , Such as the theological literature of the English church has long exhibited , and the luxuriance which puts forth much that never ripens , and sends up tares mingled with its wheat ? * To Mr . Rose , however , the very idea of theology being a progressive science appears an absurdity ; and very extraordinary is the reasoning by which he would prove , that though it was lawful for the sixteenth century to prefer its own judgment to that of the fifteenth , it is arrogance and
presumption for the nineteenth to claim the same advantage over the age of Luther and Cranmer . " The princi p le on which we separated from the Roman church was not that we had discovered any new views of Scripture , but that we desired to return to the primitive confession , the views held by the apostles and early fathers of die church . "— " Our church receives only what was received in those ages in which truth must have been known ; the others profess that perhajps in no age has truth yet been recognized , and that her genuine form may yet remain to discover . "—Pp . 21 , 22 . And do not the
professors of every other variety of Christian belief maintain precisely the same thing as the Church of England ? Does not the Church of Scotland appeal to Scripture and the apostolic age to prove the divine ri ght of Presb y * tery ? Do not the Unitarians allege the confession of Tertullian * a confession which no orthodox ingenuity has ever been able to pervert , to prove that the majority of believers in his age rejected the doctrine of the Trinity ? What portion of the Thirty-nine Articles is to be found in the Apostolic Fathers , whom we presume Mr . R . to mean by " writers who lived at the outset of
the Christian system" ? P . 27 . The assumption of a conformity with the primitive church begs the whole question in debate ; all believe themselves to possess this conformity , and the Church of England has the same right to her belief as they to theirs ; but while they , according to Mr . Rose , admit that they may have been in error , she , with singular modesty , has established a creed for all future ages , in which no one should dream of making an imiprovement . We do not , however , believe , that the venerable founders of the national church were guilty of such arrogance as Mr . Rose attributes to them ;
we know that many of her members , not inferior in station , m learning , or in worth , to the Bulls , the Water \ ands , and the Horsleys , have acknowledged the necessity of a further reformation ; and we see with pleasure that even the great organ of orthodoxy , the Quarterly Review , in a passage which calls forth Mr . Rose ' s indignation , disclaims the absurd pretension that the church has nothing to learn . ** If we would hope , " says a writer in Number LXIV . p . 87 , " to restrain that wildness of criticism on theological subjects which is too prevalent in Germany , we must learn to tolerate among ourselves a sober freedom of honest and humble inquiry ; our censures at present lose some of
* " Nothing , if we except the dreams of Hutchmson , has come out in England , in the last 100 years , in the shape of original investigation . Compilation has there Jong been the order of the day , and names , respectable and valuable indeed in their time , are now appealed to as the only safeguards against innovation , or as instructors in the way of truth . "—Professor Lee , preface to H . Martyn ' s Tracts , quoted in N . Am . Review , No . LII . p . 109 . The able author of the article justifies the use of German theological works , by the extreme defectiveness of this branch of English literature . Mr . Rose , however , speaks of "the richness of our sacred literature , " p . 13 , and
thinks it the great glory of the English church that our scholars have been all in holy orders , p . 145 . These compliments may pass where they were delivered ; ptfhov * PiBvivctlovq Iv ' htiipaiuq litcuvtiv' Others might inquire , why , from the time of Bentley downwards , our learned divines have done so much for the Attic drama and » o little for the New Testament ?
Review . —Rose ' s Discourses on the State of Religion in Germany . 51
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1827, page 51, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1792/page/51/