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gods O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."* In short, it might be easily proved concerning the human race, in all the varieties of their situation, that their frailties incline them to creature worship, in one shape or in another; that the only counteracting cause is divine revelation; and that the effect of this can be perpetuated, only by its being brought before the popular mind from written records. It seems generally agreed, that during the later periods of the history of the Israelites, their preservation from idolatry was in a great measure owing to the institution of the worship of the synagogues, in which the Scriptures were read to the people; were read in the Hebrew language for the preservation of their purity, but rendered in the prevalent language of the times—the Syriack. .,.Even independently on the unhappy propensity'referred to there is another, inducing to put human in. stitution on a level with the divine. This is illustrated in the conduct of the Pharisees; whom our Saviour accused of making the word of God of none effect by their tradition.”+ His whole treatment of such ad. dition to the old law, is very unfavourable to the supposition, that he designed to leave a door open, for the like addition to the new law of the gospek
There can hardly be a more decisive argument against what the Roman Church.contends for on the subject of tradition, than that the fathers, whose opi. nions must be looked back to, in order to determine what tradition says on any particular point of contro.
the Scriptures as the paramount directory.
To begin with Irenæus: in a former dissertation, notice was given of his opposing scripture to the Va. lentinians; although, as tradition was pleaded on their side, he opposed to theirs another more respectable; arguing in the way which logicians callad homi. nem:” that is, answering them on their own principles. The same father says. “We have known the econo
* Exod. xxxii. 4.
† Matt. xv. 6.
my of our salvation from no other than those by whom the gospel came to us; which indeed they then preach. ed,'but afterwards by the will of God delivered to us in the Scriptures; to be the foundation and pillar of our faith.”* Here, “to be the foundation and pillar of our faith,” in the latter part of the sentence, answers to * the economy of our salvation," in the beginning of it. And whereas this was at first preached from the gospel, as delivered under inspiration by the first publishers of it; these caused it to be deposited in the Scriptures, that there should be in them the rule of faith, in times to come. - The following is from Clement of Alexandria: cautioning against the yielding of too much to human authority, on a question of faith, he says—“Let us not wait for the witness of man, but let us believe the matter in question, on the word of the Lord; which is the best of all proofs, or is rather the only proof." :
Origen likewise says" We ought to bring forwards the sense of scripture, in proof of what doctrine we bring forwards, as confirming the sense which we lay down.”And again—"If so great an apostle” [St. Paul] “holds not what he saysto be sufficient, unless he teaches that those things which he says are written in the law and the prophets; how much rather ought we who are the least, to observe this; that we do not, when we teach, produce our own, but the sentences of the Holy Ghost.”
In like manner, Tertullian|| approves of the discountenancing of those things, which are done without the authority of a precept of the Lord, or of his apostles:") adding-“Such things are to be set down, not to religion but to superstition; and are matters of affectation and coaction, and rather of curiosity, than of a reasonable service." Tertullian had been speaking particularly of the notion of some persons, of
Lib. iii. cap. 1o + Stromata, Lib. vii. Matthew. S Ep. ad Rom. Lib. iii.
Tract 5, in Hl De Orat.
not praying without first washing their hands. But he remarks, that the principle extends to other subjects, and then brings in the recited words.
The same is taught by Cyprian in the following passage; in which, although he uses the word" tradition,"? he evidently means that of scripture. And this ought to be noticed; because, as was shown of scripture itself, the fathers use the word "tradition” in a latitude, apply. ing it to what had been delivered in the sacred books: He represents those against whom he wrote, saying*... "Let nothing be innovated, but what is delivered.' And then he asks..." Whence is that tradition? (meaning of his opponents] whether descending from the autho. rity of the Lord and from the gospel, or coming from the commandments and from the epistles of the apos. tles?” illustrating his sense by a quotation from Jo. shua i. 8. In general, the notice of the fathers has been confined to the first three centuries. But to show, that the same principle continued into the fourth, two of the fathers of that age shall be quoted, from among many who have written to the same effect.
Chrysostome says..." If there be need to learn, or to be ignorant, thence” [from Scripture] “we shall learn it: if to confute, or to argue against that which is false, thence shall we draw it; if to be corrected or chastised to exhortation, if any thing be wanting for our comfort, and that we ought to have it, nevertheless from thence we learn it.”+ These remarks are on the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of the second epistle to Timothy. And the father, after reciting the seventeenth verse..." That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” goes on thus..." Therefore, without it” [the Scripture] “there can be no perfection. He” (the apostle] “says--instead of me, you have the Scripture. If you desire to learn any thing, here you may obtain it. But if he writes thus to Timothy, who was full of the Holy • Ep. ad Ponpeium.
† Hom, 9, in 2 Tim.
Spirit, how much more ought we to consider it as said to us."
Austin says—" All things which appertain to life and doctrine are found in those things which are plainly set down in Scripture:"* and in another place." The Scripture has established the rule of our doctrine, that we may not dare to be wiser than we ought to be.”+ The connexion of the words admits of no other construction, than that here given. The father, writing concerning widowhood and marriage, begins with distinguishing between doctrine and exhortation, in his undertaking. Under the former head, he declares the Scripture to be the only rule; and goes orf'to expound the words of St. Paul, in 1 Cor. vii. 8.
By the advocates of the obligation of tradition, it is held to be a powerful argument, that the authenticity of the Scriptures themselves is dependent on this spe. cies of testimony. But there is a manifest difference between competency to testify to the precise fact of the existence of a particular book; and the handing down through centuries of what had been said orally, and of course became liable to the misconceptionsof all the un-derstandings through which it has had its passage. How much what a speaker says in publick, is liable to go in a different shape in every direction in which it passes from him, must be known to those who have had experience of human life: and this, where there is no intention to misrepresent; much more, where misrepresentation and passion coincide. There is indeed evidence of what tradition is thus liable to, in the different conceptions of divers early hereticks of this very subject; when they set it up in opposition to the gene. ral doctrine of the Church. In short, nothing could have preserved it in its purity, but continued miracle; and this is not pleaded. As to the testimony of tradition to the authenticity of the Scriptures; the evidence is precisely the same, as was remarked in a preceding disser. tation, with that which attaches to the testimonies of
. Contra Donat. Lib. ii. cap. 9.
† De bon Viduat.
the legislature of any country and of its courts, in reference to the laws which they have acted under, and which have influenced the manners of successive generations. There is no species of evidence more generally acted on, or less liable to be deceptive. No"! - There is manifest inconsistency in the Roman Church, in rejecting some matters which have undeniably the support of tradition---as the delivery of the cup in the Eucharist, the love feasts, and the institution of deaconesses; of which the first has the united authority of scripture and of tradition. There were also formerly affirmed some practices to rest on tradition --- although it is here believed not truly as the communicating of infants: now universally and properly laid aside.
Again, what shall be said in the case of opposite traditions? That this existed in relation to the time of keeping Easter, is a fact as notorious as any relative to the subject. The opinion is here entertained, that it might have continued to this day, without any impairing of Christian verity. But the opposite opinion has governed on the other side: and if it be correct, how can this matter be brought under the rule of having been held “always and every . where"
The same opposition of traditory evidence, prevailed for a long time, in relation to the Epistle of St. James. It is not among the books declared to be authentick by the council of Laodicea: and when received by the Western Church, it was through the tradition of the Eastern; which indeed was the most likely to be in possession of the successive testi. mony in favour of the book. The list of the epis. tles as found in Eusebius*, and what he says of the Epistle of St. James in particular,t is decisive as to this point. As to the Apocryphal books of the