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written.” As to miracles, St. Luke gives a circumstantial relation of many of them, and a general statement of the rest. If he has not mentioned the case of the blind man, John ix., he has given the particulars of the cure of a blind man in chap. xviii. 35–43. And though he has not specially noted the case of Lazarus, he has recorded the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, chap. vii. 11-15, and of the daughter of Jairus, chap. viii. 41-56. With respect to the rest, he has related them in general terms : “ The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again. (Luke chap. vii. 22.) And this general reference, in addition to numerous particular instances, is all that can be intended by the words, “ All that Jesus did.” A special account of every
individual miracle would have added nothing to the information the evangelist has given, as to the mighty acts of the Saviour, which is the only point of importance to us, as affording a demonstration of the divinity of his person and mission. The apostle John has represented the matter exactly in this light:
Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name. (John xx. 30, 31. These
many other signs” have not been transmitted to us by oral tradition through the church of Rome. This the traditionists do not pretend ; and I presume to think this surplusage of miracles is not contained in the volumes of legends they have published for the edification of the faithful, numerous though they be, since the apostle has declared, “ If they should be written, every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books." (John xxi. 25.) After all, therefore, tradition cannot help us this matter,
only details we have being found in the gospels; but this is the less to be regretted, because the instances therein related are written that you may believe, and that believing you may have life.”'
for these purposes shows that nothing further is wanted.
As to doctrines: - There can be no doubt that our Saviour taught the same doctrines at different times, to different people, and in different forms of language. It was not at all necessary, therefore, to give us the discourses he delivered during the term of his ministry, in order to convey to us all the truths he communicated to mankind; this could be done much more briefly and satisfactorily by a selection from his numerous addresses. And till it can be shown that a single doctrine is contained in another evangelist, which cannot be found in this, we are warranted in affirming that his gospel contains all things which Jesus taught, until the day he was taken up.
Having shown that the gospel of this evangelist contains all the doctrines delivered by Christ from the commencement of his mission to the period of his ascension into heaven, it necessarily follows, that, after the gospels were written, there remained unwritten traditions belonging to faith and manners, which proceeded from the mouth of Christ;” no not one: and as it is not pretended that the unwritten traditions, said to have been“ dictated by the Holy Spirit,” stand upon any better foundation than the others, — the gospel of the popes, which goes under the name of unwritten traditions, can be esteemed as no better than cunningly devised fables.
But the passage under consideration is of the utmost importance in another respect. It settles the question as to what is the test of truth. The Romanists give this honour to their traditions, and insist that they contain an infallible exposition of the sacred writings. The protestants on the other hand contend that all traditions are to be examined by the Bible, and to be received or rejected as they correspond with, or differ from it. St. Luke informs his friend Theophilus why he presented him with his gospel: "That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.” Here we are very plainly told that all
the verbal instructions we receive are to be tried by the written word, and by that alone their truth or falsehood is to be determined. The scriptures then, as the test of truth, show what is scripture and confirm it. 'All, therefore, who believe in scripture, are bound by its authority to try those instructions by it which they have received from any other source; if it bear no decisive testimony in their favour, they must be rejected as being destitute of an essential character of heavenly wisdom. Thus the protestant rule of faith is confirmed by the decision of an inspired writer.
Protestants are agreed that on many accounts it was highly important, and even necessary, that the apostles should commit the whole of the christian system to writing It is pleasing to observe, that the apostle Paul fully concurred in this opinion. “To write the same things to you to me indeed it is not wearisome, but to you it is necessary.” (Phil. iii. 1.). The apostle had not written an epistle to the Philippians prior to this; but he had preached the gospel among them. By the same things, therefore, he could not refer to the contents of a former letter, but to the great truths contained in his oral instructions. And so Whitby paraphrases the words: “To write the same things — which I have delivered to you by word of mouth.” Instead of the same things as those delivered vocally, the papist restricts the words to some of the same things, and contends that the remainder of them, instead of being intrusted to the people by writing, were reserved for the use of the clergy, to be verbally dispensed at their pleasure. But, first. The same and some of the same, cannot mean exactly the same thing. Second. The apostlespeaks of the necessity of putting in writing the doctrines he had preached. Now I should like to see a reason for the necessity of a part of his doctrines being thus committed, which does not extend to the rest. Was the necessity of the record grounded upon the apostle’s fears, that if his doctrines were trusted to oral trans
mission, the temptation to corrupt them arising from their unpalatableness, and from the difficulty of detecting the imposition, might prove too powerful for the honesty of his successors? There was reason enough for such fears, when it turned out that, though, through the multiplicity of copies, the scriptures could not be permanently corrupted, they were kept as much as possible from the people, and were represented as more likely to produce heresy than orthodoxy, if read without the accompaniment of priestly expositions, and without the addition of priestly inventions. Third. Supposing the necessity, in the esteem of the apostle, arose out of the weakness of men's memories ; the weight of this consideration would apply equally to the whole of divine revelations, as to any portion of them. He was not the only apostle who had jealousies in reference to this matter. Though the christians addressed by St. Peter in his epistles, knew the things about which he wrote, and were confirmed in the christian religion, yet he was afraid that his doctrines would scarcely survive his life, if not put into a more permanent form than oral tradition: “For which cause I will begin to put you always in remembrance of these things; though indeed you know them, and are confirmed in the present truth. But I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance. Being assured that the laying away of this my tabernacle is at hand, according as our Lord Jesus Christ also hath signified to me. And, I will do my endeavour, that after my decease also, you may often have, whereby you may keep a memory of these things.” (2 Peter i. 12 – 15.) The words, these things, mentioned in verse 12, must mean the things about which the apostle was writing. He was quite aware that he was penning no new truths, since he admitted they were acquainted with them, and established in them. But he wrote them for a remembrance. He had received a divine intimation that he had not long to live; and, therefore, he endeavoured, by embodying in his epistles those things in which he
had instructed them by word of mouth, to furnish them with a correct summary of christian verities, to which they might always have recourse for the refreshment of their memories in the things of God. pretty much the same account of his writings, chap. iii. 1, 2: “Behold this second epistle I write to you, my dearly beloved, in which I stir up by way of admotion your sincere mind: that you may be mindful of those words which I told you before from the holy prophets, and of your apostles, of the precepts of the Lord and Saviour.”
Thus it has been proved that the Bible contains not only all things necessary to salvation, but all things actually taught by Christ and his apostles. Oral traditions, therefore, are of no authority, and can only tend to deceive and destroy. St. Luke makes the scriptures the test of truth; St. Paul speaks of them as necessary to christians; and St. Peter shows on what account they are necessary. This last apostle is high authority with the papists, being their chief patron. He, we have seen, is against their traditions ; he did not believe that his successors would remember his doctrine much beyond his decease, without a written memento; he had no conception they would, even with the help of the infallible old gentleman at Rome, remember perfectly, to the end of time, every. word he had spoken. Those, therefore, who believe in Peter, may justly hesitate to believe in the pope and his priests, as to the excellency of their memories ; for if the apostle durst not trust in them, why should we ?