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mended for his orthodoxy, is manly and explicit, and sets forth the true reasons for rejecting the apocryphal writings from the canon. "The Council of Trent," says Le Courayer, "ought not to have run the hazard of declaring the deutero-canonical, or apocryphal books, of the same authority as the canonical, since there was not for them the same concurrence, or the same uniformity of testimonies: for this council had not received new light concerning these apocryphal writings; and since the Jews, who transmitted them to us, on transmitting them had apprised us of the discrimination to be made, it was sinning against all the canons of criticism, to give to these books an authority which was not granted to them by those from whom we had them, and from whom only we have received our intelligence." Dr. Bell's transl. pp. 44, 45.
On this point, therefore, it is supposed, that Dr. Doyle will find it difficult to make good his assertion, that "the existing diversity of opinion arises from certain forms of words, which may be satisfactorily explained." The distinction of proto-canonical and deutero-canonical, if it imply not a separation between inspired and uninspired writings, is not a satisfactory explanation, but a mere evasion of the difficulty.
On the authority of Tradition.-Definition of the term.--Question stated. Different kinds of Romish proof.
HAVING thus stated one of the differences between the two churches concerning the rule of faith, and shewn on what principles their respective determinations are founded, I proceed to the consideration of the other point in difference on the same subject, namely, that which regards the authority of tradition. This is by far the most important of the two in its consequences; as the greater part of those doctrines and practices which have separated the Romish church from the rest of the christian world, are principally derived from this suspicious source.
The question concerning Tradition, simple as it may appear when separately considered, has been, like most others, involved in much obscurity by indistinctness in the use of terms. The debaters have frequently mistaken the point at issue, or misunderstood each other. Romanists have been accused of reverencing as the word of God, the traditions of men, merely considered as such; and Protestants have been charged with inconsistency, in acknowledging the authority of Tradition, when
it makes for them against the unbeliever, and in rejecting that authority, when it makes against them, in their controversy with the Romanist.* Whereas both parties recognise Tradition as a means of ascertaining the divine will; they do not appeal to it in the same character. Properly speaking, Protestants admit its evidence; but reject its authority. Romanists regard its authority as equal to that of Scripture, and are little scrupulous in examining its evidence.
Tradition is, in short, a word of various import, and very different conclusions, it is plain, may be rightly drawn respecting it, accordingly as it is taken in one or other of its differentsenses. The very term " unwritten word,” by which Romish Traditions are distinguished from the written word, or Scripture, has led some into the error of supposing, that all Tradition consists merely of hearsay communinications, and is therefore altogether unworthy of credit.
These, and similar causes, have induced mutual misrepresentation, and much perplexity in the mode of conducting the argument. Meanwhile, the Romanists have not failed to take advantage of the partial misapprehension of their meaning, and to infer the perfect innocency of their church, because
* "Protestants, by their own confession, are obliged to build the latter (Scripture) upon the former, (Tradition). In doing which they act most inconsistently; whereas (R.) Catholics, in doing the same thing, act with perfect consistency." End of Controv. Letter, 11th. 101.
some of the charges brought against her, have been either too general, or too incautiously. worded. They have contrived, also, to mix up the authority of their church with the evidence of Tradition, and to predicate of their own partial traditions, what is true only of the perpetual and universal Tradition of the Church of Christ.
Confusion is always friendly to the weaker party. It may be useful, therefore, to disembarrass the question of all extraneous matter, and to state distinctly the ackowledged tenets of the two churches, and the principles and kind of reasoning, by which those tenets are respectively supported. This openness of procedure, it is presumed, will, in the end, be more conducive to concord, than the loose assertions of Dr. Doyle respecting the facility of agreement on points, with regard to which there exists the most marked contrariety of opinion.
The term "Tradition," it is admitted by Bellarmine, is capable of several meanings.. The accurate distinction of its various ac ceptations is necessary, both to the understanding and the determining, of the real question at issue. In one sense, the whole of Scripture is matter of tradition; if by Tradition, we understand merely a mode of communication, as distinguished from immediate revelation. Tradition is then a vehicle. In another sense, the canon of the New Testament like the genuineness of every ancient written
document is rightly said, to be proved by Tradition; if by Tradition we mean the testimony of the Fathers, or even of the early heretics, as to the matter of fact, that the Books, composing that canon, were written by the authors whose names they bear, and were uniformly regarded as the only authentic records of the religion. Tradition is then a witness. And we may add, that were the evidence of Tradition for the canon of Scripture, as defective as it is found to be for the apostolic origin of the disputed doctrines, the canon of the New Testament would stand on a very different footing of credibility, from that on which it now presents itself to our belief. Again-Tradition may mean, traditive interpretations of Scripture, or the sense in which the sacred writings were understood by the Fathers, and have continued to be understood throughout the Christian church; and then, Tradition is a comment; the authority of which, according to Protestants, is to be appreciated, not by the mere fact of its having been adopted in an early age and in many places; for then contradictory Traditions might be all true; but by its universal prevalence in all ages, combined with its affording a just and consistent interpretation of Scripture, A traditive interpretation of this kind, the Church of England reverences as of high authority, and freely uses the evidence it affords, in confirmation of her fundamental doctrines: still distinguishing, however, between the authority of