The idea of such an aid to Christian teaching does not seem even to enter into their comprehension. They take for granted that the accumulated knowledge about our Lord and His religion which must have flowed from the lips of the Apostles upon their converts, in their familiar conversations, catechisings, preachings, ecclesiastical determinations, prayers, was clean swept away and perished with the closing of the canon and the death of St. John. All the information of the great forty days came to nought, except so far as it accidentally strayed into one or other passage of the Apostolic Epistles. No one had ever any curiosity to ask the Apostles, during the remnant of their lives, any point of faith; no one had felt interest enough to ascertain from them who their Master was, why He died, and with what results. No one retained any memory of their teaching concerning God, or the human soul, or the unseen state, or the world of saints and angels, or the Church on earth; no one had sought for explanation of any verse in St. Matthew or St. Luke, of the doctrine contained in the first or in the sixth chapters of St. John, or of the symbol of "the Lamb," or of the nature of "the Spirit"; or, anyhow, nothing had been asked, nothing answered, but what already was recorded by a singular chance in the books of the New Testament, or at least nothing that was of the slightest importance and worth preserving. The great Churches of the day, at Corinth, Rome, Antioch, and Ephesus, the learned school of Alexandria, knew in the year A.D. 100 and onwards as much of all these matters as we do now, and no more. Their interpretations of the sacred writings were just on a par with the private judgments of clever commentators, orthodox or heterodox, now—one as good as another, conjectural, personal, inferential, unauthoritative. "Pious opinions," as they have been called, "theories upon facts," "dogmatical and sententious wisdom," "hieroglyphics, casting shadows," "metaphors explanatory of metaphors," "vain conceits," "presumptuous impositions,"—it seems nothing better than these remains to us, these are all the leavings, if we are to credit Chillingworth, Locke, Hoadley and the rest, of the contemporaries and the disciples of our Lord.

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