Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/23

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No. 49.]
[Price 2d.
(Ad Clerum.)



In referring to Scripture for the proof of points relating to the doctrine of the Church, we sometimes find the force of our arguments evaded by the objection that, although the texts and passages we refer to seem to prove the points for which they are cited, we still appear to be giving them an undue prominence in our system. It is admitted, for instance, that the Epistles to Timothy and Titus prove an Episcopal form of Church government: that certain passages in the First Epistle to the Corinthians indicate the existence of a certain order of Church service, &c.; but then these passages are thought to occupy a subordinate place in the records of the New Testament, while our doctrine of the Church would put them prominently forward. This is, doubtless, a point to be well considered; for the apostolic rules of Scripture teaching and interpretation, must be faithfully observed: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God," or "prophesy," let him prophesy "according to the proportion (or analogy) of faith."

Now, to meet this difficulty, let it be considered that the restoration of a doctrine so evidently important in its bearings as that of the Church, must necessarily produce a great change upon a system out of which it has been lost. We have been accustomed to a Ptolemaic theory of our spiritual system; we have made our own little world the centre, and have ranged the doctrines of Scripture around it, according to the relation they seem severally to bear to our own individual profit. We find ourselves called upon to adopt an opposite theory; to take for the centre of our