My own Church has its own history, strangely different from yours; and the differences are, I cannot doubt, as apparent to you as they are to me. Yet the debt of my Church to the ancient Fathers is very great ...

[The use by the Caroline Divines] of the Fathers led them particularly in two directions.

1. They were led away from being preoccupied with the matters which had been the absorbing concern of the Continental Reformers, namely Justification and Predestination, and became instead influenced by the proportion of the theology of the Fathers for whom the central doctrine was that of the Incarnation of the Word made flesh, the Person of Jesus Christ, God and Man. For the Caroline divines, as for the Nicene Age, the Incarnation of the Son of God became the heart and centre of theology. Such was the teaching of the great divines of the Caroline period, such as Lancelot Andrewes and Jeremy Taylor, as it had been the teaching of Richard Hooker in the period before. Such too was the teaching of great divines in the subsequent centuries, William Law and Waterland (different as they were) in the eighteenth century; Pusey, Maurice, and Westcott (different as they were) in the nineteenth; Gore and Temple in the twentieth. In every one of these divines the Incarnation was central, and in every one of them the debt to the Fathers was constant and profound.

2. The second trend in the Carolines, caused by their use of the Fathers, was this. Because they found in the Fathers the contrast of Greek and Latin theology they were saved from western narrowness, and were conscious that just as the ancient, undivided Church embraced both East and West so the contemporary Catholic Church was incomplete without the little-known Orthodox Church of the East as well as the familiar Churches of the West, Latin, Reformed, and Anglican. Hence there begins, in the heart of Anglican theology, a yearning towards the East. I quote Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop first of Ely and later of Winchester, whose Preces Privatae are a classic work of Anglican devotion. He prayed:

for the Catholic Church, its development and increase; for the Eastern, its deliverance and union; for the Western, its adjustment and peace; for the British, the supply of what is wanting, the strengthening of what remains in it.

 

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