In theology, was a kind of argument pleaded by Tertullian and others in the third century against erroneous doctors. This mode of arguing has been despised by some, both because it has been used by Papists, and because they think that truth has no need of such a support. Others, however, think that if it can be shown that any particular doctrine of Christianity was held in the earliest ages, even approaching the apostolic, it must have very considerable weight; and, indeed, that it has so, appears from the universal appeals of all parties to those early times in support of their particular opinions. Besides, the thing is in itself natural; for if a man finds a variety of opinions in the world upon important passages in Scripture, where shall he be so apt to get the true sense as from contemporary writers or others who lived very near the apostolic age? And if such a man shall find any doctrine or interpretations to have been universally believed in the first ages, or, as Vicentius Lirinensis words it, semper ubique et ab omnibus, he will unquestionably be disposed to think such early and universal consent, or such prescription, of very considerable weight in determining his opinion.


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