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Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-

1888. Orthodoxy




" Soleo enim in aliena castra transire, non tanquum transfuga, sed tanquain explorator." Seneca, EpistolcB,2.

'" Fiat lux. Cupio refelli, ubi aberrSirim ; nihil majus, nihil aliud quam Yeri- tatem efflagito." Thomas Bcenet, Arch. Phil.




^•^P . . 1986

'^G'CAL SEW\^^'


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by the


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Stereotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry, No. 4 Spring Lane.

Presswork by John WUson and Son.


The Protestant Reformation has its Principle and its Method. Its Principle is Salvation by Faith, not by Sacraments. Its Method is Private Judgment, not Church Authority. But private judgment generates authority ; authority, first legitimate, that of knowledge, grows into the illegitimate authority of prescription, calling itself Orthodoxy. Then Private Judgment cornea forth again to criticise and reform. It thus becomes the duty of each individual to judge the Church ; and out of innumerable individual judgments the insight of the Church is kept living and progressive. We contribute one such private judgment ; not, we trust, in conceit, but in the hope of provoking other minds to further examinations.





§ 1. Object and Character of this Book. ••.. , 1

2. Progress requires that we should look back as well as forward. . . 3

3. Orthodoxy as Right Belief. 5

4. Orthodoxy as the Doctrine of the Majority. Objections 7

5. Orthodoxy as the Oldest Doctrine. Objections 9

C. Orthodoxy as the Doctrine held by all 10

7. Orthodoxy, as a Formula, not to be found 10

8. Orthodoxy as Convictions underlying Opinions 11

9. Substantial Truth and Formal Error in all great Doctrinal Systems. 13

10. Importance of this Distinction . , 15

11, The Orthodox and Liberal Parties in New England 17



§ 1. The Principle of Orthodoxy defined 19

2. Logical Genesis of the Principle of Orthodoxy 19

3. Orthodoxy assumed to be the Belief of the Majority 20

4. Heterodoxy thus becomes sinful 20

5. The Doctrine of Essentials and Non-essentials leads to Rome. ... 22

6. Fallacy in this Orthodox Argument 23

7. The three Tendencies in the Church 26

8. The Party of Works 28

9. The Party of Emotion in Christianity 30

10. The Faith Party in Religion 31

11. Truth in the Orthodox Idea 31

12. Error in the Orthodox Principle 35

13. Faith, Knowledge, Belief, Opinion 37

a* (V)




§1. Meaning of Natural and Supernatural 43

2. The Creation Supernatural 44

3. The Question stated 45

4. Argument of the Supernaturallst from successive Geologic Creations. 45

5. Supernatural Argument from Human Freedom 47

6. Supernatural Events not necessarily Violations of Law 48

7. Life and History contain Supernatural Events , 50

8. The Error of Orthodox Supernaturalism 50

9. No Conflict between Naturalism and Supernaturalism 51

10. Further Errors of Orthodox Supernaturalism Gulf between Chris-

tianity and all other Religions 54

11. Christianity considered unnatural as well as supernatural by being

made hostile to the Nature of Man. 57


§ 1. The Subject stated. Four Questions concerning Miracles 58

2. The Definition of a Miracle 58

3. The different Explanations of the Miracles of the Bible 61

4. Criticism on these Different Views of Miracles 66

6. Miracles no Proof of Cln-istianity 68

6. But Orthodoxy is right in maintaining tlieir Reality as Historic Facts. 74

7. Analogy with other Similar Events recorded in History 76

8. Miracle of the Resurrection. Sceptical Objections 80

9. Final Result of this Examination 85



§ 1. Subject of this Chapter. Three Views concerning the Bible 87

2. The Difficulty. Antiquity of the World, and Age of Mankind. . . S9

3. Basis of the Orthodox Tlieory of Inspiration 94

4. Inspiration in general, or Natural Inspiration 98

5. Christian or Supernatural Inspiration , , 101

6. Inspiration of the Scriptures, especially of the New Testament

Scriptures 106

7. Authority of the Scriptures 112

8. The Christian Prepossession 122

9. Conclusion 228



§ 1. The Question stated 130

2. The four Moments or Characters of Evil the Fall, Natural De-

pravity, Total Depravity, Inability 130

3. Orthodox and Liberal View of Man, as morally diseased or other-

wise 133

4. Sin as Disease 134

6. Doctrine of the Fall in Adam, and Natural Depravity their Truth

and Error 130

6, Examination of Romans, 5 : 12-21 HI

7. Orthodox View of Total Depravity and Inability HG

5. Proof Texts 147

9. Truth in the Doctrine of Total Depravity 152

10. Ability and Inability 158

11. Orthodox Doctrine of Inability lo3

12. Some further Features of Orthodox Theology concerning human

Sinfulness 166



§ 1. Orthodoxy recognizes only two Conditions in which Man can be

found 174

2. Crisis and Development 175

3. Nature of the Change '. . 176

4. Its Reality and Importance 177

5. Isit the Work of God, or of the Man himself? Orthodox Difficulty. 173

6. Solved by the Distinction between Conversion and Regeneration. . 178

7. Men may be divided, religiously , .nto three Classes, not two. ... 179

8. Difference between Conversion and Regeneration 181

9. Unsatisfactory Attitude of the Orthodox Church 182

10. The Essential Thing for Man is to repent and be converted ; that is,

to make it his Purpose to obey God in all Things 185

11. Regeneration is God's Work in the Soul. Examination of the Clas-

sical Passage, or Conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus. . . . ISO

12. Evidences of Regeneration , . 190


§ 1. Orthodox Doctrine stated 202

2. This Doctrine gradually developed 202

3. Unitarian Objections 203

4. Substantial Truth in this Doctrine 204

5. Formal Error of the Orthodox Statement 205

6. Errors of Arianisra and Naturalism 208



§1. This Doctrine of Paul not obsolete 210

2. Its Meaning and Importance 212

3. Need of Justification for the Conscience * . . 216

4. Reaction of Sin on the Soul 218

5. Different Methods of obtaining- Forgiveness 220

6. Method in Christianity 222

7. Result 224

8. Its History in the Church 225

9. Orthodox Errors, at the present Time, in Regard to Justification by

Faith 228

10. Errors of Liberal Christiana 231


§ 1. Confusion in the Orthodox Statement 235

2. Great Importance attributed to this Doctrine 237

3. Stress laid on the Death of Jesus in the Scripture 238

4. Difficulty in interpreting these Scripture Passages 239

5. Theological Theories based on the Figurative Language of the New

Testament 240

6. The three principal Views of the Atonement warlike, legal, and

governmental 243

7. Impression made by Christ's Death on the Minds of his Disciples.

First Theory on the Subject in the Epistle to the Hebrews. . . 243

8. Value of Suflcring as a Means of Education 245

9. The Human Conscience suggests the Need of some Satisfaction in

order to our Forgiveness 245

10. How the Death of Jesus brings Men to God 247

11. This Law of Vicarious Suffering universal 251

12. This Law illustrated from History in the Death of Soerates, Joan

of Arc, Savonarola, and Abraham Lincoln 254

13. Dr. Bushnell's View of the Atonement 259

14. Results of this Discussion 260


§ 1. Orthodox Doctrine 266

2. Scripture Basis for this Doctrine 269

3. Relation of the Divine Decree to Human Freedom 271

4. History of the Doctrine of Election and Predestination 272

5. Election is to Work and Opportunity here, not to Heaven hereafter.

How Jacob was elected, and how the Jews were a Chosen Peo- ple ; 278


0. How other Nntions were elected and called 278

7. How different Denominntions arc elected 279

8. How Individuals are elected 279

9. How Jesus was elected to be the Christ 281

10. Other Illustrations of Individual Callin!? and Election 282


§ 1. Orthodox Doctrine 285

2. TIic Doctrine of Immortality as taught by Reason, the Instinctive

Consciousness, and Scripture 280

3. The Three Principal Views of Death— the Tagan, Jewish, and

Christian 289

4. Eternal Life, as tnught in the New Testament, not endless Future

Existence, but present Spiritual Life 296

5. Resurrection, and its real Meaning, as a Rising up, and not a Rising

again 304

0. Resurrection of the Body, as taught in the New Testament, not a Rising again of the same Body, but the Ascent into a higher Body 315



§ 1. The Coming of Christ is not wholly future, not wholly outward, not

local, nor material 324

2. No Second Coming of Christ is mentioned in Scripture 325

3. Were the Apostles mistaken in expecting a speedy Coming of Christ ? 326

4. Examination of the Account of Christ's coming given by Jesus in

Matthew 328

5. Coming of Christ in Human History at different Times 333

6. Relation of the Parable of the Virgins, and of the Talents, to Christ's

Coming 336

7. Relation of the Account of the Judgment by the Messiah, in Matt.

ch. 25, to his Coming 337

8. How Christ is, and how he is not, to judge the World 338

9. When Christ's Judgment takes Place 343

10. Paul's View of the Judgment by Christ 347

11. Final Result 350




§ 1. Different Views concerning tlie Condition of the Impenitent here-



2. The Doctrine of Everlasting Punishment, as held by the Orthodox

at the Present Time 353

3. Apparent Contradictions, both in Scripture and Reason, in Regard

to this Doctrine •^*52

4. Everlasting Punishment limits the Sovereignty of God 366

5. Everlasting Punishment contradicts the Fatherly Love of God. . . 367

6. Attempts to modify and soften the Doctrine of Everlasting Punish-

ment 371

7. The meaning of Eternal Punishment in Scripture 375

8. How Judgment by Christ is connected with Punishment 382

9. The Doctrine of Annihilation 385

10. The Doctrine of Universal Restoration 386


§ 1. The Question stated 391

2. Orthodox Doctrine of the Church Roman Catholic and High

Church 393

3. The Protestant Orthodox Idea of the Church 396

4. Christ's Idea of a Church, or the Kingdom of Heaven 399

6. Church of the Leaven, or the Invisible Church 403

6. The Church of the Mustard-seed 405

7. Primitive and Apostolic Church, or Church as it was 406

8. The Actual Church, or Church as it is 410

9. The Church Ideal, or Church as it ought to be 417

10. The Church Possible, or Church as it can be 419


§1. Definitionof the Church Doctrine 423

2. History of the Doctrine 426

3. Errors in the Church Doctrine of the Trinity 428

4. The Trinity of Manifestations founded in the Truth of Things. . . 432

5. It is in Harmony with Scripture. 434

6. Practical Value of the Trinity, when rightly understood 436




§ 1. On the Defence of Nescience in Theology, by Herbert Spencer and

Henry L. Mansel 441

2. On the Defence of Verbal Inspiration, by Gaussen 449

3. Defence of tlje Doctrine that Sin is a Nature, by Professor Shcdd. . 455

4. Defence of Everlasting Punishment, by Dr. Nehemiah Adams and

Dr. J. P. Thompson 405

5. Defence of the Trinity, by Frederick D. Huntington, D. D 480





§ 1. Object and Character of this Booh. The peculiarity of the book now oflPered to the religious public by the govern- ment of the American Unitarian Association, is this -^ that it is an honest attempt to find and state the truth contained in the doctrines of their opponents. It is, perhaps, something new for au association established to defend certain theo- logical opinions, and baptized with a special theological name, to publish a work intended to do justice to hostile the- ories. The too usual course of each sect has been, through all its organs, to attack, denounce, undervalue, and vilily the positions taken by its antagonists. This has been con- sidered as only an honest zeal for truth. The consequence has been, that no department of literature has been so un- christian in its tone and temper as that of sectarian contro- versy. Political journals heap abuse on their opponents, in the interest of their party. But though more noisy than the theological partisans, they are by no means so cold, hard, 1 (»>

2 orthodoxy: its truths and errors.

or unrelenting. Party spirit, compared with sectarian spirit, seems rather mild.*

It is true that theologians do not now use in controversy the epithets which were formerly universal. We have grown more civil in our language than were our "fathers. It is also true that we often meet with theological discussions conducted in a spirit of justice towards one's opponents, f But to say, " Fas est ab hoste doceri" is a step as yet beyond the ability of most controversialists. To admit that your antagonist may have seen some truth not visible to yourself, and to read his work in this sense, in order to learn, and not merely to confute, is not yet common.

This we are about to undertake in the present treatise. We stand in the Unitarian position, but shall endeavor to see if there be not some truths in Orthodoxy which Unita- rians have not yet adequately recognized. To use the lan- guage of our motto we come "not as deserters, but as explorers" into the camp of Orthodoxy. We are satisfied with our Unitarian position, as a stand-point from which to survey that of others. And especially are we grateful to it, since it encourages us by all its traditions, by all its ideas

* The following passage, from an article in the " Independent," by Henry Ward Beecher, is valuable, perhaps, as the testimony of one who has " sum- mered it and wintered it " with Orthodoxy :

" Does anybody inquire why, if so thinking, we occasionally give such sharp articles upon the great religious newspapers, ' The Observer,' ' The Intelli- gencer,' and the like ? O, pray do not think it from any ill will. It is all kind- ness '. We only do it to keep our voice in practice. We have made Orthodoxy a study. And by an attentive examination of ' The Presbyterian,' ' The Ob- server,' ' The Puritan Recorder,' and such like unblemished confessors, we have perceived that no man is truly sound who does not pitch into somebody that is not sound ; and that a real modern orthodox man, like a nervous watch dog, must sit on the door-stone of his system, and bark incessantly at every- thing that comes in sight along the highway. And when there is nothing to bark at, either he must growl and gnaw his reserved bones, or bark at the moon to keep up the sonorousness of his voice. And so, for fear that the sweetness of our temper may lead men to think that we have no theologic zeal, we lift up an objurgation now and then as much as to say, ' Here we are, fierce and orthodox ; ready to growl when we cannot bite.' "

t Thus Theodore Parker (" Experience as a Minister ") speaks of a review of his " Discourse on Religion " in a Trinitarian work, which did it no Injustice.


and principles, to look after as well as before to see if there be no truth behind us which we have dropped in our hasty advance, as well as truth beyond us to which we have not yet attained.

§ 2. Progress requires that toe should look back as well as fonvard. Such a study as this may be undertaken in the interest of true progress, as well as that of honest inquiry. For what so frequently checks progress, causes its advocates to falter, and produces what we call a reaction towards the old doctrines, as something shallow in the reform itself? Christians have relapsed into Judaism, Protestants into Ro- manism, Unitarians into Orthodoxy because something true and good in the old system had dropped out of the new, and attracted the converts back to their old home. All true progress is expressed in the saying of Jesus, " I have not come to desti'oy, but to fulfil." The old system cannot pass away until all its truths are fulfilled, by being taken up into the new system in a higher form. Judaism will not pass away till it is fulfilled in Christianity the Roman Catholic Church will not pass away till it is fulfilled in Protestantism Orthodoxy will not pass away till it is fulfilled by Rational Christianity. Judaism continues as a standing protest, on behalf of the unity of God, against Trinitarianism.

And yet we believe that, in the religious progi'ess of the race, Christianity is an advance on Judaism, Protestant Christianity an advance on Roman Catholic Christianity, and Liberal and Rational Christianity an advance on Church Orthodoxy. But all such advances are subject to reaction and relapse. Reaction differs from relapse in this, that it is an oscillation, not a fall. Reaction is the backward swing of the wave, which will presently return, going farther for- ward than before. Relapse is the fall of the tide, which leaves the ships aground, and the beach uncovered. Reac- tion is going back to recover some substantial truth, left be- hind in a too hasty advance. Relapse is falling back into


the old forms, an entire apostasy from the higher stand-point to the lower, from want of strength to maintain one's self in the advande.

The Epistle to the Hebrews deserves especial study by those who desire to understand the philosophy of intellectual and spiritual progress. It was written to counteract a ten- dency among the Jewish Christians to relapse into Juda- ism. These Christians missed the antiquity, the ceremony, the authority of the old ritual. Their state of mind resem- bled that of the extreme High Church party in the Church of England, who are usually called Puseyites. They were not apostates or renegades, but backsliders. They were always lamenting the inferiority of Christianity to Judaism, in the absence of a priesthood, festival, sacrifices. It hardly seemed to them a church at all. The Galatians, to whom Paul wrote, had actually gone over and accepted Jewish Christianity in the place of Christianity in its simplicity and purity. The Hebrews had not gone over, but were looking that way. Therefore the writer of the Epistle to the He- brews endeavors to show them that all which was really good in the Jewish priesthood, temple, ritual, was repre- sented in Christianity in a higher form. It had been fulfilled in the New Covenant. Nothing real and good can pass away till it is fulfilled in something better. Thus the Roman Catholic Church stands, as a constant proof that Protestant Christianity yet lacks some important Christian element which Romanism possesses. Orthodoxy, confuted, as we suppose, over and over again, by the most logical argu- ments, stands firm, and goes forward.

Let us, then, reexamine the positions of our antagonists not now merely in order to find the weak places in their line of battle, but to discover the strong ones. Let us see if there be any essential, substantial truth in this venerable system, to which we have as yet not done justice. If there be, justice and progress will both be served by finding and declaring it.


We ask, What are the substantial truths, and what the for- mal errors, of Orthodoxy ? But what do we mean by these terms ?

§ 3. Orthodoxy as Bight Belief. By Orthodoxy in gen- eral is meant the right system of belief. This is the diction- ary definition. But as the world and the Church differ as to tchich is the right system of belief as there are a vast mul- titude of systems and as all sects and parties, and all men, believe the system they themselves hold to be the right be- lief— Orthodoxy, in this sense of right belief, means nothing. In this sense there are as many orthodoxies as there are believers, for no two men, even in the same Church, think exactly alike. Unless, therefore, we have some further test, by which to find out lohich orthodoxy, among all these or- thodoxies, is the true orthodoxy we accomplish little by giving to any one system that name.

Here, for instance, in New England, we have a system of belief which goes by the name of Orthodoxy ; which, how- ever, is considered very heterodox out of New England. The man who is thought sound by Andover is considered very unsound by Princeton. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in 1837, cut off four synods, contain- ing some forty thousand members, because they were supposed not to be sound in doctrinal belief. But these excommunicated synods formed a New School Presbyterian Church, having its own orthodoxy. Andover considers itself more orthodox than Cambridge ; but the New School Presbyterians think themselves more orthodox than An- dover— the Old School Presbyterians think themselves more orthodox than the New School. But the most ortho- dox Protestant is called a heretic by the Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholics, again, are called heretics by the Greek Church. So that orthodoxy, in this sense, seems an im- possible thing something which, if it exists, can never be certainly ascertained. 1*


Whenever a body of believers assumes the name of Ortho- dox, intending thereby that they are right, and their oppo- nents wrong, they evidently assume the very point in dispute. They commit the fallacy called in logic a petitio principii. They beg the question, instead of discussing it. They put will in the place of reason. They say, in the very title page of their book, in the first step of their argument, that their book is satisfactory and their argument conclusive. It would be more modest to wait till the discussion is concluded be- fore they proceed thus to state what the conclusion is. This is an arrogance like that which the Church of Rome com- mits, in calling itself Catholic or Universal, while excluding more than half of Christendom from its communion.*

A political party does not offer such an affront to its opponents. It may name itself Democratic, Republican, Federal ; it may call itself the Conservative party, or that of Reform. By these titles it indicates its leading idea it signifies that it bears the standard of reform, or that it stands by the old institutions of the country. But no political party ever takes a name signifying that it is all right and its opponents all wrong. This assumption was left to religious sects, and to those who consider humility the foundation of all the virtues.

The term "Evangelical" is, perhaps, not as objectionable as Orthodox, though it carries with it a similar slur on those of other beliefs. It says, " "We are they who believe the gospel of Christ ; those who differ from us do not believe it." It is like the assumption by some of the Corinthians of the exclusive name of Chi-istians. " We are of Christ,"

* According to the "Chart of Religious Belief" in Johnston's Physical Atlas, there are in the world 140,000,000 of Catholics, "9,000,000 of Protestants, 68,000,000 of the Greek Church, and li.OOOjOOO of minor creeds. About, in his " Question Romaiue," gives the Roman Church 139,000,000. He says, " The Iloman Catholic Church, which I sincerely respect, is composed of 139}000,000 of individuals, not including the little Mortara."


said they meaning that the followers 'of Paul and Apollos were not so.

Probably the better part of those who take the name of Orthodox, or Evangelical, intend no such arrogance. All they want is some word by which to distinguish themselves from Unitarians, Universalists, &c. They might say, " We have as good a right to complain of your calling yourselves ' Rational Christians ' or ' Liberal Christians ' assuming thereby that others are not rational or liberal. You mean no such assumption, perhaps ; neither do we when we call our- selves ' Orthodox ' or ' Evangelical.' When we can find another term, better than these, by which to express the difference between us, we will use it. We do not intend by using these w'ords to foreclose argument or to beg the ques- tion. We do not mean by Orthodoxy, right belief; but only a certain well-known form of doctrifle."

This is all Avell. Yet not quite well since we have had occasion to notice the surprise and disgust felt by those who had called themselves " The Orthodox," in finding themselves in a community where others had assumed that title, and refused to them any share in it. Therefore it is well to emphasize the declaration that Orthodoxy in the sense of " right belief" is an unmeaning expression, sig- nifying nothing.

§ 4. Orthodoxy as the Doctrine of the Majority. Oh- jedions. The majority, in any particular place, is apt to call itself orthodox, and to call its opponents heretics. But the majority in one place may be the minority in another. The majority in Massachusetts is the minority in Virginia. The majority in England is the minority in Rome or Con- stantinople. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of all England, gave Mr. Curzon a letter of introduction to the Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the Greek Church. But the Patriarch had never heard of the Arch- bishop of Canterbury, and inquired, " Who is he?"

8 orthodoxy: its truths and errors.

Nevertheless, it is a very common argument that such and such a doctrine, being held by the great majority of Chris- tians, must necessarily be true. Thus it is said that since the great majority of Christians believe the doctrine of the Trinity, that doctrine must be true. " Is it possible," it is said, " that the great majority of Christian believers should be now, and have been so long, left in error on such a funda- mental doctrine as this ? " Even so intelligent a man as Dr. Huntington seems to have been greatly influenced by this argument in becoming a Trinitarian. The same argument has carried many Protestants into the Roman Catholic Church. And, no doubt, there is a truth in the argument a truth, indeed, which is implied all through the present work that doctrines thus held by great multitudes during long periods cannot be wholly false. But it by no means proves them to b^ wholly true. Otherwise, truth would change as the majorities change. In one century the Arians had the majority ; and Arianism, therefore, in that century would have been true. Moreover, most of those who adhere to a doctrine have not examined it, and do not have any defined opinion concerning it. They accept it, as it is taught them, without reflection. And again, most truths are, at first, in a minority of one. Christianity, in the first cen- tury, was in a very small minority. Protestantism, in the time of Luther, was all in the brain and heart of one man. To assume, therefore, that Orthodoxy, or the true belief, is that of the majority, is to forbid all progress, to denounce all new truth, and to resist the revelation and inspiration of Grod, until it has conquered for itself the support of the majority of mankind. According to this principle, as Chris- tianity is still in a minority as compared with paganism, we ought all to become followers of Boodh. Such a view can- not bear a moment's serious examination. Every prophet, sage, martyi', and heroic champion of truth has spent his life and won the admiration and grateful love of the world


by opposing the majority in behalf of some neglected or unpopular truth.

§ 5. Orthodoxy as the Oldest Doctrine. Objections. Some people think that Orthodoxy means the oldest doctrine, and that if they can only find out what doctrine was believed by the Church in the first century, they shall have the true orthodox doctrine. But the early Church held some opinions which all now believe to be false. They believed, for in- stance, that Jesus was to return visibly, in that age, and set up his church in person, and reign in the world in outward form a thing which did not take place. They therefore believed in 'the early church something which was not true consequently what they believed cannot be a certain test of Orthodoxy.

The High Church party in the Church of England, in defending themselves against the Roman Catholic argument from antiquity, have appealed to a higher antiquity, and established themselves on the supposed faith of the first three centuries. But Isaac Taylor, in his " Ancient Christianity," has sufficiently shown that during no period in those early centuries was anything like modern orthodoxy satisfactorily established.* The Church doctrine was developed gradually during a long period of debate and controversy. The Christology of the Church was elaborated amid .the fierce conflicts of Arians and Athanasians, Monothelites and Monophysites, Nestorians and Eutychians. The anthropol- ogy of the Church was hammered and beaten into shape by the powerful arm of Augustine and his successors, on the anvils of the fifth century, amid the fiery disputes of Pela- gians, Semi-Pelagians, and their opponents.

Many doctrines generally believed in the earlji church are

* Mr. Taylor shows that the Church, A. D. 300, was essentially corrupt in doctrine and practice ; that the Romish Church was rather an improvement on it; that Jerome, Ambrose, Gregory, and Athanasius are full of false doctrine; and that a Gnostic theology, a Pagan asceticism, and a corrupt morality pre- vailed in the Church in those early centuries


universally rejected now. The doctrine of cbiliasm, or the millennial reign of Christ on earth ; the doctrine of the under world, or Hades, where all souls went after death ; the doctrine of the atonement made by Christ to the devil, sucli were some of the prevailing views held in the early ages of the Church. The oldest doctrine is not certainly the truest ; or, as Theodore Parker once said to a priest iu Rome, who told him that the primacy of Peter was asserted in the second century, " A lie is no better because it is an old one."

§ 6. Orthodoxy as the Doctrine held by all. But, it may be said, if Orthodoxy does not mean the absolutely right system of belief, nor the system held by the majority, nor the oldest doctrine of the Church, it may, nevertheless, mean the essential truths held in all Christian Churches, in all ages and times ; in short, according to the ancient for- mula— that which has been believed always, by all persons, and everywhere ^^ quod semper, quod ah omnibus^ quod ubique."

In this sense no one would object to Orthodoxy. Only make your Catholicity large enough to include every one, and who would not be a Catholic ? But this famous defini- tion, if it be strictly taken, seems as much too large as the others are too narrow. If you only admit to be ortho- dox what all Christian persons have believed, then the Trinity ceases to be orthodox ; for many, in all ages, have disbe- lieved it. Eternal punishment is not orthodox, for that, too, has often been denied in the Church. Sacraments are not orthodox, for the Quakers have rejected them. The resur- rection is not orthodox, for there were some Christians in the Church at Corinth who said there was no resurrection of the dead.

§ 7. Orthodoxy, as a Formula, not to he found. Any attempt, therefore, rigidly to define Orthodoxy, destroys it. Regarded as a pi'ecise statement, in a fixed or definite form,


it is an impossibility. There is uo such thing, and ucvlt has been. No creed ever made satisfied even the majority. How, indeed, can any statement proceeding from the hvmian brain be an adequate and permanent expression of eternal truth? Even the apostle says, "I know in part, and I prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." The apostle declares that his sight of truth is only partial, and that everything partial is imperfect, and that everything imperfect must pass away ; so that our present knowledge of truth is transient. "Whether there be knowledge, it shall pass away." If the apostle Paul declared that he had not the power of making a perfect and permanent statement of truth, how can Ave believe that any one else can ever do it ?

§ 8. Orthodoxy, as Convictions underlying Opinions. If, therefore, every doctrinal statement is changeable and changing ; if the history of opinions shows the rise and fall of creeds, one after the other becoming dominant, and then passing away ; if no formula has ever gained the universal assent of Christendom ; if the oldest creeds con- tained errors now universally rejected, what then remains as Orthodoxy ? We answer, no one statement, but something underlying all statements no one system of theology, but certain convictions, perhaps, pervading all the ruling sys- tems. Man's mind, capable of insight, sees with the inward eye the same great spiritual realities, just as with his out- ward eye he sees the same landscape, sky, ocean. Accord- ing to the purity and force of his insight, and the depth of his experience, he sees the same truth. There is one truth, but many ways of stating it one spirit, but many forms.

" The one remains, the many change and pass ; Heaven's light forever shines, earth's shadows fly."

Are there any such great convictions underlying and in- forming all the creeds? I think there are. I think, for


example, it has always been believed in the Church that in some sense man is a sinner, and in some sense Christ is a Saviour from sin ; that Christianity is in some way a super- natural revelation of the divine Avill and love ; that Scripture is somehow an inspired book, and has authority over our belief and life ; that there is a Church, composed of disciples of Jesus, whose work in the world is to aid him in saving the lost and helping the fallen and wretched ; that some- how man needs to be changed from his natural state into a higher state, and to begin a new life, in order to see God ; that there is such a thing as heaven, and such a thing as hell ; that those who love God and man belong to heaven, and that the selfish and sensual belong to hell. These ideas have been the essential ideas of the Church, and constitute the essence of its Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy, then, is not any definite creed, or statement of truth. It is not of the letter, but of the spirit. The letter kills. Consequently those who cling to the letter of Ortho- doxy kill its spirit. The greatest enemy of Orthodoxy is dead Orthodoxy. The old statements retained after their life is gone, the old phrases made Shibboleths by which truth is to be forever tested, these gradually make the whole system seem false to the advancing intellect of the human race. Then heresies come up, just as providential, and just as necessary, as Orthodoxy, to compel the Church to make restatements of the eternal truth. Heresies, in this sense, are as true as Orthodoxy, and make part, indeed, of a higher Orthodoxy.

By Orthodoxy, therefore, we do not mean the opinions held by any particular denomination in New England or elsewhere. We do not mean the opinions of New England Calvinists or of Southern Presbyterians ; not the creed of Andover, of New Haven, or of Princeton : but we mean that great system of belief which gradually took form in the Christian Church, in the course of centuries, as its standard


theology. The pivotal points of this system are sin and sal- vation. In it man appears as a sinner, and Christ as a Saviour, Man is saved by an inward change of heart, re- sulting in an outward change of life, and produced by the sight of the two facts of sin and salvation. The sight of his sin and its consequences leads him to repentance ; the sight of salvation leads him to faith, hope, and love ; and the sight of both results in regeneration, or a new life. This system also asserts the divinity of Christ, the triune nature of God, the divine decrees, the plenary inspiration of Scripture, eternal punishment, and eternal life.

§ 9. Substantial Truth and Formal Error in all great Doctrinal Systems. Within the last twenty-five years, a new department of theological literature has arisen in Ger- many, which treats of the history of doctrines. The ob- ject of this is to trace the doctrinal opinions held in the Church in all ages. By this course of study, two facts are apparent first, that the same great views have been substantially held by the majority of Christians in all ages ; and, secondly, that the forms of doctrine have been very difierent. The truths themselves have been received by Christians, as their strength, their hope, and their joy, in all time ; but the formal statement of these truths has been wrought out diiFerently by individual intellects. .The uni- versal body of Christians has taken care of Christian truth ; while the Church Fathers, or doctors, have held in their hands the task of defining it doctrinally for the intellect.

By substantial truth we mean this that in all the great systems of opinion which have had a deep hold on the human mind, over broad spaces and through long periods, there is something suited to man's nature, and corresponding with the facts of the case. The mind of man was made for truth, and not for error. Error is transient : truth only is permanent. Men do not love error for its own sake, but for the sake of something with which it is connected. After a 2


while, errors are eliminated, and the substance retained. The great, universal, abiding convictions of men must, therefore, contain truth. If it were not so, we might well despair ; for, if the mind of the race could fall into unmixed error, the only remedy by which the heart can be cured, and the life redeemed from evil, would be taken away. But it is not so. God has made the mind for truth, as he has adapted the taste to its appropriate food. In the main, and in the long run, what men believe is the truth; and all catholic beliefs are valid beliefs. Opinions held by all men, everywhere and at all times, must be substantially true.

But error certainly exists, and always has existed. If the human mind is made for truth, how does it fall into error? There never has been any important question upon which men have not taken two sides ; and, where they take two sides, one side must be in error. Sometimes these two par- ties are equally balanced, and that for long periods. With which has the truth been ? Is God always with the majori- ty? If so, we must at once renounce our Unitarian belief for the Trinity, as an immense majority of votes are given in its favor. But, then, we must also renounce Protestantism ; for Protestantism has only eighty or ninety millions against a hundred and forty millions who are Catholics. And, still further, we must renounce Christianity in favor of Heathen- ism ; since all the different Christian sects and churches united make up but three hundred millions, while the Buddh- ists alone probably exceed that number. Moreover, truth is always in a minority at first, usually in a minority of one ; and, if men ought to wait until it has a majority on its side before they accept it, it never will have a majority on its side.

These objections lead us to the only possible answer, which consists in distinguishing between the substance and the form. When we assert that