IT seems, then, that we have to deal with a case something like the following: Certain doctrines come to us, professing to be Apostolic, and possessed of such high antiquity that, though we are only able to assign the date of their formal establishment to the fourth, or the fifth, or the eighth, or the thirteenth century, as it may happen, yet their substance may, for what appears, be coeval with the Apostles, and be expressed or implied in texts of Scripture. Further, these existing doctrines are universally considered, without any question, in each age to be the echo of the doctrines of the times immediately preceding them, and thus are continually thrown back to a date indefinitely early, even though their ultimate junction with the Apostolic Creed be out of sight and unascertainable. Moreover, they are confessed to form one body one with another, so that to reject one is to disparage the rest; and they include within the range of their system even those primary articles of faith, as the Incarnation, which many an impugner of the said doctrinal system, as a system, professes to accept, and which, do what he will, he cannot intelligibly separate, whether in point of evidence or of internal character, from others which he disavows. ...

The application which has been here made of the principle is this,—that where a doctrine comes recommended to us by strong presumptions of its truth, we are bound to receive it unsuspiciously, and use it as a key to the evidences to which it appeals, or the facts which it professes to systematise, whatever may be our eventual judgment about it. Nor is it enough to answer, that the voice of our particular Church, denying this so-called Catholicism, is an antecedent probability which outweighs all others and claims our prior obedience, loyally and without reasoning, to its own interpretation. This may excuse individuals certainly, in beginning with doubt and distrust of the Catholic developments, but it only shifts the blame to the particular Church, Anglican or other, which thinks itself qualified to enforce so peremptory a judgment against the one and only successor, heir and representative of the Apostolic college. ...

The onus probandi is with those who assail a teaching which is, and has long been, in possession. As for positive evidence in our behalf, they must take what they can get, if they cannot get as much as they might wish, inasmuch as antecedent probabilities, as I have said, go so very far towards dispensing with it. It is a first strong point that, in an idea such as Christianity, developments cannot but be, and those surely divine, because it is divine; a second that, if so, they are those very ones which exist, because there are no others; and a third point is the fact that they are found just there, where true developments ought to be found,—namely, in the historic seats of Apostolical teaching and in the authoritative homes of immemorial tradition.

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