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or which had been actually misrepresented ;the supposition concedes the point at issue :--it implies the defects of traditionary teaching. And if, through the imperfection of this vehicle, any parts of the Christian Doctrine were in danger of being lost, even in the age of the Apostles, all the parts of it were equally exposed to the same risk; and must, in remote ages, have inevitably been corrupted, or have entirely perished; since the mode of conveyance would every day become more and more imperfect.
The acknowledgment of the unsuitableness of Tradition for conveying some important facts and doctrines to distant ages, or even to the apostolic age, implied in the fact of the Apostles having committed a part, and the most important part, of their instruction to writing, is sufficient for the argument of Protestants. It is sufficient to destroy the certainty of Tradition, as a lasting Rule of Faith; the perpetual establishment of which Rule is inferred by Romanists, from the mere circumstance of its having been once adopted by our Saviour and his Apostles.
And what is it, after all, which the Apostles and Evangelists found it thus necessary to commit to written documents? The acts of our Lord's ministry, the fulfilment of prophecy, positive precepts, remarkable events, sacramental institutions;-things far less likely to be forgotten, or misrepresented, than those subtile definitions and distinctions, which now
form the most remarkable part of the alleged Romish Traditions. If it were necessary to record the facts of the Gospel history, it was evidently still more so, to leave written statements of its doctrines. If Tradition be a secure vehicle for those doctrines, which, it is pretended, have been received in an uninterrupted succession by its means, why was it not deemed equally secure, for those facts and doctrines, which the Apostles and Evangelists have, notwithstanding, "written, that we may believe." If, on the other hand, it was an insecure mode of transmitting some plain truths, the inference is undeniable, that it might, nay, that in process of time, it must have become still more insecure, for transmitting others less plain, and consequently more liable to misrepresentation.
The partial and occasional nature of the writings of the New Testament.
Another argument for the authority of Tradition, connected with the mode of teaching adopted by our Lord and his Apostles, is drawn from the occasional nature, and the partial design of the writings which the inspired authors have left behind them. Those writings were all composed, it is said, to suit the particular exigences of the Churches, or individuals, to whom they were addressed, and cannot,
therefore, be considered as a sole and standing Rule of Faith, for the Univeraal Church."There is nothing in these occssions, nor in the Gospels themselves, which indicates that any one of them, or all of them together, contains an entire, detailed and clear exposition of the whole religion of Jesus Christ."-End of Controv. p. 57. And hence is inferred the necessity of a traditionary doctrine to supply those omissions, and to clear up those obscurities, which the limited design of each of the sacred writers is supposed to have occasioned.
The argument is plausible, but it is nothing more. It rests on the gratuitous supposition, that the information, which single and detached parts of the New Testament do not afford, cannot be collected from all the parts taken together, affording mutual illustration, and each adding something important to be known, which may have been omitted in the others, as not necessary to the peculiar design of these writings. It is as if a man should say, that a treatise could not contain a complete system of ethics, or jurisprudence, because the chapters, or divisions, of that treatise did not separately comprise the whole of the subject. It is a sufficient answer to such objections to say, that Protestants do not pretend, that the distinct compositions which make up the New Testament, are to be regarded, as each containing a complete exposition of the christian religion, or that even all of them taken collectively, exhibit marks of sys
tematic arrangement. No doubt, each of the inspired penmen had an object peculiar to himself, in composing what he has left us;-an object, however, subordinate to the common purpose of inculcating the faith of Christ, and strictly connected with it. And it is by this supposition of a design proper to each of them, that we account for those omissions which are. found in one work, but which are supplied in another. The want of systematic arrangement, again, we consider as furnishing proof of the genuineness of the sacred writings, not as warranting the inference, that the information, contained in them, when taken collectively, must be incomplete; and that therefore a traditionary doctrine is requisite to supply their de-. fects. But, whatever opinion may be formed of the inartificial, and of the occasional manner, by which divine truth has been communicated in the Sacred Writings, it should be recollected, that the proof of the insufficiency of traditionary teaching, drawn from the fact of the inspired teachers having committed the most important doctrines to written documents for greater security, and from their having found it necessary to correct in writing, many errors which had arisen in their days under oral teaching, remains unanswered. For, it is plainly, no answer to the argument founded on this fact to allege, that the compositions forming the written word, were designed for occasional purposes, and that each writer could not be supposed to combat every error, or to
inculcate every truth. What was not done by each separately, may, under the superintending direction of the Holy Spirit, have been done by all collectively; and that a complete system of doctrine has been thus inartificially delivered, must be taken for granted; otherwise,. the knowledge of the christian religion will be still imperfect; unless it can be shewn on other grounds, than the assumed insufficiency of Scripture, that there are truths important to be believed, which are not contained in it, and which have been preserved by a Tradition, capable of being traced to the oral teaching of Christ and his Apostles.
When, indeed, the Romanists shall have thus proved the existence of a body of Traditionary Doctrines, derived from inspired authority, it will be permitted to them to account for such doctrines not being found in Scripture, by pointing out the partial design of each of the sacred writers. But they cannot be allowed, from the partial design of each separate composition, to assume the incompleteness of the whole, when taken together; and thence to infer the necessity of a supplementary and traditionary doctrine.
In the attempt, however, to trace those Traditions which characterise their creed, to an A postolic origin, it is presumed, that they have hitherto failed;-their medium of proof being, merely another unproved assumption,--the infallibility of their Church pronouncing on the divine authority of those Traditions, on the