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own satisfaction, the divine authority of Tradition, and constituted their church the depositary of it, they apply this notion as a general truth, in proof of the particular propositions which be comprehended under it. The process is syllogistic. The disputed Traditions form a part, say they, of the body of Tradition entrusted to the safe-keeping of an infallible church, as the unwritten Revelation of God's will; and, being thus found in that body of Tradition, are proved to have been derived from an inspired
Protestant advocates, on the contrary, have set themselves to analyse the confused mass of Romish Tradition, and have manifested, with complete success, that few, if any, of the traditionary doctrines in controversy can be traced, in that form, and under those modifications in which they are now professed by the Church of Rome, beyond the seventh century; certainly, that none of them can with any shew of probability be ascribed to the apostolic, or to the succeeding age. In this way of prosecuting the inquiry, the whole fabric of the disputed Traditions has been demolished piece-meal.
Demo unum, demo et item unum,
Dum cadat elusus ratione ruentis acervi,
If, indeed, it can be satisfactorily made out, that any of the doctrines in question were actually derived from Jesus Christ, or his Apostles, by whatever means they may have de
scended to us, there is no doubt but that such doctrines must be received with the same sentiments of piety and reverence, as the written word of God itself. And this is all that the Romanists ought in reason to require. But it would by no means follow, if even certain parts of traditionary knowledge were capable of being so traced to an inspired origin, that others, which are said to have been transmitted by the channel of tradition, must have originated in the same source. This, however, is the false supposition of the Romanists, when they object to us the admission of the evidence of Tradition, in confirmation of certain doctrines, or usages; and the rejection of it, as insufficient proof with regard to others. It is manifest, that Tradition may be a sufficient evidence of some facts, without being so of opinions and doctrines; it may afford proof sufficient of some opinions and doctrines, and not of others; and again, it may faithfully transmit a doctrine in general terms, but may wholly fail in proving the particular modification and construction put upon it, which are, for the most part, the matters in controversy between the Church of England and her opponents. Supposing, that the doctrine of the real presence in the Eucharist may be proved to have been transmitted by Tradition; the mode of that presence, with its important consequences, which is the distinguishing tenet of the Church of Rome, may turn out to be wholly unsupported by traditionary proof. But, in fact, the Church of Rome re
fuses to be determined by the result of historical enquiry; and although she sometimes affects to introduce Tradition as a witness, it is plain, that she ultimately appeals to it as an unerring rule. The distinction between these characters ought never be lost sight of, nor the different kinds of proof confounded, by which Tradition, in these varying senses, requires to be supported. Tradition, as a witness, is to be cross-examined and confronted with other witnesses; and its credibility finally established, or rejected, on the same principles as that of every kind of historical testimony. Tradition, as a Rule of Faith, is a different thing. The existence of such a rule must be proved on grounds distinct from the testimony of Tradition itself; and when established, before it can become available to the purposes of the Church of Rome, it must be shewn, that this Church has been appointed the sole keeper and interpreter of the Rule; and that the body of doctrines which compose it, has been transmitted to us entire and incorrupt, through her hands.
Now, the Romish arguments for the autho rity of a body of Traditionary Doctrine, composing an independent part of the Rule of Faith, may be all classed under the following heads:
I. The express declarations of the written Word itself. II. The mode of teaching adopted by Jesus Christ and his Apostles; which argument is supposed to be illustrated and
confirmed-1. by the character of the sacred writings; 2. by analogies, taken from the example of legislators, and the practice of courts of law; 3. by the alleged fact, that the great truths of religion were securely handed down by word of mouth, during the space of 2,400 years; 4. by the alleged universality of the Romish Traditions, which, it is said, can be accounted for on no other supposition than by that of their having emanated from divine teaching; 5. by the alleged existence of a secret doctrine handed down by the Apostles. III. The testimonies of the Fathers of the Church in all ages.
These several arguments, I shall proceed to consider in their order,
Romish Proof from Scripture of the Divine Authority of Tradition.
The Scriptural proof of Tradition, as a Rule of Faith, is thus ushered in by J. K. L. in his seventh Letter on the State of Ireland: For our part, we find no truth of Religion more expressly recorded in the Scriptures themselves, more frequently insisted on by the primitive fathers of the church, nothing more consonant to right reason, than the existence of Tradition." pp. 184, 185. The existence of Tradition, is again and again proposed in the same letter, as the matter which it is his object to prove.
Now, with whom does this Polemic suppose that he is contending? No man ever denied the "existence of Tradition." It is the authority of Romish Tradition, as a part of the Rule of Faith, which is alone called in question. The existence of Tradition is a matter of fact, and is neither more nor less "consonant to right reason," than the existence of the Pope of Rome, or of J. K. L. himself, or of any other fact whatever. So much for his enuntiation!!
Let us now proceed to examine his warrant for thus confidently asserting of the divine au