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this heresy at this time, and the wisdom of God in raising up Augustine as a scourge to it, so that it was eventually one of the grand means of introducing juster views of gospel grace than had for a long time obtained in the church, and of reviving Christian truth, humility, and piety.'1
As we depart from the apostolic age, the church in
1 The four first seals of the Apocalyptic vision contain a striking view of the History of the Church in this period. Durham, Vitringa, and Dean Woodhouse apply them to the Christian Church, rather than to the Roman Empire. Dean Woodhouse observes, “There is a sublime climax or scale of terrific imagery exhibited in the colours of the horses, denoting, as I understand them, the progressive character of the Christian times, from its pure beginning to its greatest corruption. It begins with pure white ; then changes to fiery and vengeful; then to black and mournful ; and when we suppose that nothing more dreadful in colour can appear, then comes another gradation still more terrific, even this deadly pale ; and the imagery is scriptural as well as sublime, and a striking resemblance of it may be observed in the following poetical passage.
Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, her polishing was of sapphire. Their visage is blacker than a coal. (Heb. darker than blackness.) They are not known in the streets ; their skin cleaveth to their bones, it is withered. Such a gradation also was there, from heavenly pure to foul and horrible, in the Christian church.
When (under the second seal) uncharitable controversies and ambitious animosities had banished that peace which true religion cannot fail to promote; and dark ignorance, and superstition, and domineering priestcraft (under the third seal) had fixed a burdensome yoke (Zuyos. Rev. vi. 6.) on the necks of the disciples, and made pure Christian knowledge of difficult attainment, then greater evils naturally ensued. Ignorance became blind submission, and priestcraft advanced into civil tyranny. Thus (under the fourth seal) the mystery of iniquity was completed. It was then that the harsh usurpation which we call the papal tyranny was extended over the lives and consciences of Christians. To profess religion in its purity became a crime..... Thus under the assumed authority of the Christian church, under the auspices and direction of her professed ministers and rulers, Death and Hell were seen to devastate a great part of the Christian world, destroying the lives of men both literally and spiritually, and eradicating the pure doctrines of the gospel.'-See Woodhouse's Annotations, p. 139–142.
general departed from evangelical simplicity. Dr. Prideaux in his address to the reader before his Life of Mahomet, says,
• The churches in the East having drawn the abstrusest niceties into controversy, did thereby so destroy peace, love, and charity from among them .... that they lost the whole substance of their religion, and .... in a manner drove Christianity quite out of the world by those very controversies in which they disputed with each other about it. So that .... the Saracens taking advantage of the weak
power, and distractions of councils which those divisions had caused, soon overran with terrible devastation, all the Eastern Provinces of the Roman empire; ... turned every where their churches into mosques,
and .... forced on them the abominable imposture of Mahometanism.'-Pp. vii, viii.
Nothing can be more painful than the interminable and fierce conflicts on the veriest trifles which divided large portions of the professing Christian church. A heathen author, probably exaggerating the actual state of things, says, “the hatred of Chritians to each other, exceeded the fury of wild beasts against men.' God had His own servants in the midst of these days, but it was only His special mercy and faithfulness to His promises (Matt. xvi. 18.) that preserved a church amidst such unchristian controversies. As might be expected, amidst such a general decay of piety, not many works worth studying have come down to us from the sixth to the fifteenth century. Bede, Bertram, Theophylact, and Bernard, are among the most useful writers iu that period.
The titles of the centuries before the Reformation, given by Cave, are very significative of the state of divinity in each age:
THE SCHOOLMEN, AND THEIR CONTEMPORARIES.
It will be seen that the thirteenth century is called Scholastic by Cave, and little indeed of real good seems to have been effected by such writers.? As they once, however, occupied a leading post in divinity, aud valuable writers lived in their times, we will give some testimonies to the character of the schoolmen, and contemporary writers.
1 Some of the writings of the Fathers have been translated into English. It would be a useful and acceptable work for British Christians, if the most correct of these translations and fresh translations of works that'might be edifying, which have not yet been translated, were published in ten or twelve volumes octavo.And if the most valuable extracts from the original Fathers with English translations, were published in a similar number of volumes, it would be a very useful work to students in divinity. When the Fathers were more studied, two useful books were published Sculteti Medulla Patrum, containing an analysis of the Fathers, chiefly of the first three centuries; and Rouse's Mella Patrum, containing extracts from their writings. The student will find these works give a good general view of what may be met with in the Fathers whom these writers notice. Le Nourry's Apparatus, and Walchii Bibliotheca Patristica, give full accounts of what concerns the Fathers, and Dupin's Bibliotheca has considerable abridgements of most of their works.
2 See Milner's account of the School Divinity, Vol. iv. p. 108.
Of the schoolmen Luther says, “They did nothing but propose paradoxes ; their whole art was founded in a contempt for scripture; and here I know the truth of what I say, for I was brought up among them.' There are some other striking views of the school divinity in his Colloquia Mensalia, see chap. 1. and 30.
Leighton observes in his address to students, " That you may not be imposed upon by the common reputation of acuteness and learning, I confidently affirm, that to understand and be master of those trifling disputes that prevail in the schools, is an evidence of a very mean understanding; while, on the contrary, it is an argument of a genius truly great, entirely to slight and despise them, and to walk in the light of pure and peaceable truth, which is far above the dark and cloudy region of controversial disputes.'
Usher says of the schoolmen, · They were good to puzzle men's heads with unnecessary doubts, but bunglers in resolving them, and that their writings had done more mischief to the church, than brought advantage either to learning or religion; that they might serve for controversial disputes in the schools, but were very improper for the pulpit, and altogether useless for the functions of a civil life. Bishop Wilkins gives similar views in his Gift of Preaching. Rainoldes thus addresses Hart respecting the school
- The schoolmen are the men that must uphold Papistry, with the friendly help of the canonists their brethren. The Scriptures and Fathers would be pretended for a show to countenance the matter. But they are like to images in old buildings of antique work, which are framed so that with their shoulders they seem to bear the roof, whereas that indeed rests on walls or pillars. The schoolmen and canonists, the fountains of the corruptions which has infected the church of Christ, the schoolmen in doctrine by the opinions of popery; the canonists in discipline by the state of the papacy ; the schoolmen and the canonists are the two pillars that uphold your church as the house of Dagon, in which the Philistines triumph, and insult over the faith and God of Sampson.'-P. 72.
After such testimonies, very little need be said. The philosophy of Aristotle was introduced into divinity. Lombard, Bishop of Paris, to remedy this, made a collection of passages out of the Fathers, entitled the Book of Sentences; but the scholastic writers, hy their commentaries upon it, only made it the means of introducing afresh the endless questions of scholastic theology.
Bonaventura and Aquinas, styled by their admirers, the seraphic and angelical doctors, were the most famous writers of this class. Luther says, Bonaventura is the best among all the school divines and church writers. Estius's Sum is said to contain the best account of the scholastic divinity. Colet's opinion of Aquinas is worth recording. Speaking to Erasmus, who had been praising that school divine, he said, Why are you so fond of commending that schoolman, who, without a great deal of arrogance, could never have reduced all things into such positive and dogmatical definitions; and without too much of a worldly spirit, he could never have so much corrupted and defiled the pure doctrines of the gospel with his mixture of profane philosophy.'1
I See Colet's Life, p. 49