Notes of the Church

Notes Of The Church, those marks by which a true Church may be recognised. Four are generally adduced: Unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. It is to these marks that Romanists refer in support of their pretension that the Church of Rome is the only true Church. Bellarmine gives the following: Catholicity, antiquity, 'duration, amplitude, episcopal succession, apostolical agreement, unity, sanctity of doctrine, efficacy of doctrine, holiness of life, miracles, prophecy, admission of adversaries, unhappy end of enemies, temporal felicity. Palmer, who has written a High-Church treatise on the subject, says: "The necessity of devising some general notes of the Church, and of not entering at once on controversial debates concerning, all points of doctrine and discipline, was early perceived by Christian theologians. Tertullian appeals, in refutation of the heresies of his age, to the antiquity of the Church derived from the apostles, and its priority to all heretical communities. Irenseus refers to the unity of the Church's doctrines, and the succession of her bishops from the apostles. The universality of the Church was more especially urged in the controversy with the Donatists. St. Augustine reckons among those things which attached him to the Church: The consent of nlations, authority founded on miracles, sanctity of morals, antiquity of origin, succession of bishops from St. Peter to the present episcopate, and, the very name of the Catholic Church. St. Jerome mentions the continual duration of the Church from the apostles, and the very appellation of the Christian name. Luther assigned as notes of the true Church the true and uncorrupted preaching of the Gospel, administration of baptism, of the eucharist, and of the keys; a legitimate ministry, public service in a known language, and tribulations internally and externally. Calvin reckons only truth of doctrine and right administration of the sacraments, and seems to reject succession. Later theologians adopt a different view in some respects. Dr. Field admits the following notes of the Church: Truth of doctrine, use of sacraments and means instituted by Christ, union under lawful ministers, antiquity without change of doctrine, lawful succession — i.e. with true doctrine, and universality in the successive sense — i.e. the prevalence of the Church successively in all nations. Bishop Taylor admits as notes of the Church: Antiquity, duration, succession of bishops, union of members among themselves and with Christ, sanctity of doctrine, etc. The Constantinopolitan Creed gives to the Church the attributes of "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolical." A HighChurchman unchurches without hesitation other communities that want some of his extra-scriptural criteria; but theorists on this subject are not agreed among themselves. SEE CHURCH; SEE FUNDAMENTALS; SEE NOVATIANS.

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