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own, for the adjudication of civil causes, they may be permitted to argue in the way of analogy, to the necessity of a similar appointment in matters of faith and conscience. But not till then. The appointment of a fallible judge for the determination of civil disputes, which for the sake of peace require to be decided, and which it is better to decide with some error of judgment, than not at all, can afford no precedent for an ecclesiastical tribunal, which is supposed to decide with infallibility in matters of conscience, that demand no earthly decision, and are, indeed, capable of none, lying solely between man and his Creator, Had such an infallible tribunal been appointed in the Church, for the interpretation of the written, and the preservation of the unwritten word, it cannot be doubted, but that it would have been announced in direct and explicit terms. And yet the Romanists are not agreed amongst themselves, in what part of their Church it resides, or at least where it does not reside; and it will be hereafter shewn, that in the whole New Testament, there is not a single clear and undisputed reference to any other standard of doctrine, than to that of the inspired teachers during their life time, and to the decisions contained in their writings.
It is, however, asked, if the practice and usages of the common law have been preserved entire, by means of an uninterrupted traditionary succession, during so many ages, why may not, also, the unwritten doctrines of the
Church have been transmitted in the same pu rity? Bishop Marsh shall answer, "It is not with doctrines, as it is with ceremonies, or even with the usages of civil law. The daily prac tice of courts of justice may have preserved unaltered through a succession of ages, the forms which are apparent to the external senses. But articles of faith which are objects only of the inward sense, must unavoidably, when transmitted only from mouth to mouth, undergo, in a very short period, material alterations. It is, therefore, in the highest degree improbable, that any doctrine coming from Christ and his Apostles, should have been left unrecorded in the New Testament, and confided to the future record of the Fathers."Comp. View, p. 68.
To this statement it may be added, that in the analogical argument of the Romanists, in favour of Tradition, drawn from the practice of courts of common law, there is a manifest change resorted to in the meaning of the term, Tradition: the only Tradition they are contending for, and that which will alone suit their hypothesis, is a Tradition as absolutely free from error, as the Scriptures themselves. It is Tradition, as a Rule of Faith;-but the Tradition, the credibility of which may be illustrated and supported by the accuracy with which the unwritten maxims of the law have been preserved, is of another kind. It is merely historical; and its character is that of general truth, with much admixture of error.
To make the instance of juridical Tradition a case in point, when brought to support the kind of Tradition maintained by the Church of Rome, it should be shewn, that the precepts and usages of the common law have been unerringly and unchangeably transmitted through the mere Tradition of our courts of justice. But this no lawyer ever pretended. It is well known, that silent, though important, changes have taken place in legal practice, the origin of which it is now difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain; and that clashing precedents are alleged in the daily pleadings of the courts.What is supposed to have been the common. law in one age, is declared not to be so in another. But to clothe Tradition with the authority of a Rule of Faith, it is necessary to prove, not merely general correctness, but absolute freedom from error, in the transmission.-A single flaw will destroy its claim. And as all human Traditions are confessedly subject to alteration, the Romanists must be content to forego the illustration of their doctrine from what takes place amongst unassisted men, and to entrench themselves behind the infallibility of their Church, which is the only tenable position for the defence of their divine Traditions. Of this infallibility, however, they must be prepared to give the most unequivocal proof.
Romish argument in support of Tradition, as a Rule of Faith, drawn from the alleged fact, that the great truths of religion were securely handed down by word of mouth, during the space of 2,400 years.
But, Dr. Milner has not only his analogical proof, taken from the example of legislators, and the practice of Courts of Law;-he produces undeniable facts from ancient history, in support of the Traditionary Rule.
"To the opinions of these learned Prelates," (Bishops Porteus and Marsh, who have well suggested, that the easiest story, transmitted by word of mouth, is liable to be essentially altered in the course of one or two hundred years) "I oppose," says he, " in the first place, undeniable facts. It is, then, certain, that the whole doctrine and practice of religion, including the rites of sacrifice, and indeed the whole sacred history, was preserved by the Patriarchs, in succession from Adam down to Moses, during the space of 2,400 years, by means of Tradition." Ib. 98.
"It is certain!"-Yes, it is certain, that every fact connected with the history and the practice of religion in the ancient world, overturns the authority of Tradition, as a Rule of Faith.
"The whole doctrine and practice of religion," including the origin and import of the rite of sacrifice, and indeed the main facts of ancient history, were either totally disfigured, or forgotten, in a very few ages, whilst entrusted solely to oral communication. The sacrifices and idolatrous worship of the heathens, their cosmogonies and mythologies, were all corrupted traditions. Even into the household of Terah, the father of Abraham, it is probable, that idolatry had found an entrance.Faith in a Redeemer, and the knowledge of the true God, were preserved in a single nation, not by means of Tradition alone, which had failed to hand down these truths in every other nation of the world, but by means of repeated and connected communications from God himself. And, so far from human Tradition, when standing alone, being proved by any facts of sacred history, to be a secure conveyance, there is no ground for believing, that even amongst the Israelites themselves, corrected as Tradition was by repeated revelations, it had been the means of accurately transmitting to the time of Moses, all the important truths of religion. Whence did Dr. Milner gain his knowledge of what he so confidently states? Not from Scripture. From Scripture we have good reason for supposing, that the doctrines and practice of true religion were become corrupt amongst the Israelites, during the latter years of their sojourning in Egypt-that they had, in that small portion