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of time*: and he would be able to do this, if every volume in creation, excepting the Bible, were committed to the flames. Scarcely less evident is the scriptural warrant for the Christian Sabbath. When we find one day in seven kept by the people of God, as a day of sacred rest, from the creation till the giving of the law by Moses: when we find the great principle, that a seventh part of time must be solemnly consecrated to God, explicitly laid down in the Decalogue, and declared to be of universal and perpetual obligations: when we find the disciples of Christ, after the resurrection of their Lord, invariably convening on the first day of the week, for public worship: when we find this day formally and emphatically styled the Lord's day: when we find all this in Scripture, could any man doubt of the divine right of the first day Sabo bath, even if no uninspired author had ever written a line? It is certainly gratifying to find such abundant evidence as we do in favor of both these
* These two facts by no means comprise the whole of the evidence found in Scripture in favor of Infani Baptism. The impartial reader of the sacred oracles will find in them much more to the same effect. But these are sufficient; and constitute, to allintents and purposes, a full and abundant warrant.
f It seems to be taken for granted, by many, that the fourth commandment, enjoins the perpetual observance of the seventh. day in order. This is certainly a mistake. It merely consecrates to God a seventh part of time ; leasing the precise day in order to be made the subject of after regu.ation. That this reguiation was made we have satisfactory evidence.
ordinances in a number of early and authentic writers; but we do not stand in need of human testimony. We have a higher and a better warrant. This alone we quote, before a Christian tribunal, as conclusive. And when the friends of Episcopacy produce any thing like a similar warrant from Scripture, in behalf of their doctrine, we will believe them. On the whole, then, brethren, I trust you
will find little difficulty in deciding what conclusion ought to be formed concerning a system which cannot claim the least solid scriptural warrant on which to rest; and which flies to the writings of fallible men to help out its scanty evidence. You will feel no disposition, I hope, to call it by hard names; or to load its advocates with reproaches. But you will understand your principles, as Christians and as Protestants, too well to receive for doctrines the commandments of men ; or to take ground which will oblige you even indirectly to concede the imperfection and insufficiency of the Word of God.
Testimony of the Primitive Fathers.
The most respectable and authentic writers in the Christian Church, who lived during the first four or five centuries after Christ, are emphatically styled, by- ecclesiastical historians, the Fathers. The writings of these venerable men have been much resorted to in this controversy. Many, even of those who acknowledge the feebleness and insufficieney of the Episcopal arguments from Scripture, believe that the Fathers speak decidedly in their favor. Whatever doubts may attend the evidence in support of their system, drawn from other sources, here, they imagine, there can be no question. For the sake of such persons; and to enable you to decide how far many positive declarations which are made by the friends of E. piscopacy are entitled to credit, it becomes necessary to inquire what these early writers attest on the subject before us.
I shall not now stay to ascertain what degree of respect is due to the writings of the Fathers in general. It is my duty, however, to state, that we
do not refer to them, in any wise, as a rule either of faith or of practice. We acknowledge the Scriptures alone to be such a rule. By this rule, the Fathers themselves are to be tried ; and, of course, they cannot be considered, properly speaking, as the Christian's authority for any thing. It is agreed, on all hands, that they are not infallible guides: and it is perfectly well known to all who are acquainted with their writings, that many of them are inconsistent both with themselves, and with one another. We protest, therefore, utterly against any appeal to them as an authority on this subject. Though they, or an angel from heaven, should bring us any doctrine, as essential to the order and well-being of the Church, which is not to be found in the Word of God, we are bound by the command of our Master to reject them.
But, as our Episcopal brethren have frequently complained, that we treat the Fathers with too lit. tle respect; and even insinuated that we have no way of avoiding the force of their testimony, but by endeavoring to destroy their credibility ; I will give as little ground of uneasiness on this head as possible. Waving, therefore, all further discussion of their title to credit, I will cheerfully admit them as credible witnesses with respect to matters of fact, which might be supposed to come within their knowledge. On this ground, then, I will join issue with our opponents; and not only admit, but engage to abide by the testimony of their chosen witnesses.
In examining the writings of the Fathers, I shall admit only the testimony of those who wrote within the FIRST TWO CENTURIES. Immediately after this period so many corruptions began to creep into the Church; so many of the most respectable Christian writers are known to have been heterodox in their opinions ; so much evidence appears, that even before the commencement of the third century, the Papacy began to exhibit its pretensions; and such multiplied proofs of wide spreading degeneracy crowd into view, that the testimony of every subsequent writer is to be received with suspicion. Besides, if diocesan Episcopacy existed, and were of the fundamental importance that our Episcopal brethren make it to be, we may surely expect to find some reference to it in the records of two hundred years; and especially when we consider that those were years of the greatest simplicity and purity ever known to the Church.
Before we proceed to examine what the Fathers say on this subject, let us be careful to recollect precisely, what our Episcopal brethren contend for, and what they are bound to prove by these witnesses, in order to make good their claims. When they show us passages in which these early writers merely speak of Bishops, they seem to imagine that their point is gained: but such passages are, in fact, nothing to their purpose. We do not deny that there were Bishops in the Primitive Church: on the contrary, we contend that the word Bishop was a title given, in Apostolic times and long af