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I HAVE admitted that several great Fathers of the Church of the fourth and fifth centuries speak of the Blessed Virgin in terms which we never should think of using now, and which at first sight are inconsistent with the belief and sentiment concerning her, which I have ascribed to their times. These Fathers are St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Alexandria; and the occasion of their speaking is furnished by certain passages of Scripture on which they are commenting. It may in consequence be asked of me, why I do not take these three, instead of St. Justin, St. Irenæus, and Tertullian, as my authoritative basis for determining the doctrine of the primitive times concerning the Blessed Mary: why, instead of making St. Irenæus, &c., the rule, and St. Basil, &c., the exception, I do not make the earlier Fathers the exception, and the latter the rule. Since I do not, it may be urged against me that I am but making a case for my own opinion, and playing the part of an advocate.

Now I do not see that it would be illogical or nugatory, though I did nothing more than make a case; {129} indeed I have worded myself in my Letter as if I wished to do little more. For so much as this would surely be to the purpose, considering that the majority of Anglicans have a supreme confidence that no case whatever can be made in behalf of our doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin from the ancient Fathers. I should have gained a real point if I did anything to destroy this imagination; but I intend to attempt something more than this. I shall attempt to invalidate the only grounds on which any teaching contrary to the Catholic can be founded on Antiquity.








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