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few ignorant Jews, or God himself, bearing witness, that his “law is perfect,” and requiring no more in his worship, but what is in this prescribed? See Psal. xix, 8; Prov. xxx, 5, 6; Deut. iv, 1, 2; and this perfection of the written law, though it be perfectly destructive of their traditions, not only the Karæi, among themselves, earnestly contend for, but also sundry of their Gemarists acknowledge, especially when they forget to oppose
the gospel. 5. God every where sends his people to the written law of Moses for the rule of their obedience. If there is such an oral law, it is one that God would not have any one to observe; nor did ever reprove any one for its transgression.
$9. And yet this figment is the bottom of the present Judaical religion and obstinacy. When the apostle wrote this epistle, their obstinacy had not yet arrived at this rock of offence; since their falling on it, they have increased their blindness, misery, and ruin. · Then they were contented to try their cause, by what God spake to their fathers in the prophets, which kept open a door of hope, and gave some advantages for their conversion; but that door is now shut up until God shall take away this veil from their faces, that they may see to the end of the things that were to be abolished.
By this means principally have they, for many generations, both shut out the truth, and secured themselves from conviction. For, whatever is taught in the scripture, concerning the person, office, and work of the Messiah, seeing they have that which they esteem a revelation of at least equal authority; teaching them a doctrine quite of another nature, and more suited to their carnal principles and expectations, they readily discard, and will rather rest in any evasions, than yield
to its testimony. And whilst they have a firm persuasion, received by the tradition of many generations, that the written word is imperfect, but an half revelation of the mind of God, which yet is in itself unintelligible, and not to be understood, but according to their oral law now recorded in their Talmuds, what can the most plain and cogent testimonies avail to their conviction?
$10. And this hath been the fatal means of the grand apostasy of both churches, Jewish and Christian; for the Roman church hath at length arrived at almost the same issue, by the same degrees. I shall, therefore, (ws ev tepwdw) manifest their agreement in this principle of their traditions, which have been the ruin of them both.
1. The Jews expressly contend, that their oral law, their mass of traditions, was from God himself; partly delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, and partly added, by him, from Divine revelations, which he afterwards received. And this is the persuasion of the Romanists, about their cabal of traditions; they plead them all to be of a Divine original, partly from Christ, and partly from his apostles, by living tradition. Let one convention of their doctors determine, that images are to be adored; another, that transubstantiation is to be believed; and a third, add a new creed; let one doctor advance the opinion of purgatory, another of justification by works; all is one, these things are not then first invented, but only declared out of that unsearchable treasure of traditions, which they have in their custody.
2. This oral law being thus given, the preservation of it, seeing Moses is dead long ago, must be inquired after. Now the Jews assign a three-fold depository of it; first, the whole congregation; secondly, the sanhedrim; and thirdly, the high priest. To this end they
affirm, that what Moses then received was three times repeated, upon the descent of Moses from Mount Sinai; and that his after additions had the same promulgation. First, it was repeated by himself to Aaron; secondly, by them both to the elders; and, thirdiy, by the elders, to the whole congregration. In the same manner do the Romanists lay up the stock of their traditions. In general they make the church the repository of them. To the sanhedrim have councils conveniently succeeded in the same office. But the high priest, the pope, is the principal conservator of this sacred treasury of traditions; and upon their succession doth the certainty of them depend. And whilst there is a pope at Rome, the knowledge of the new oral law will not fail; as the old one did not, whilst the Jews had an high priest, though in pursuit of it they crucified the Messiah, and continue to reject him to this day.
3. The Jews, in favor of their traditions, affirm, that the written word without them is imperfect, and not to be understood, but as it is interpreted by them. And the first question of the Romanists generally is, “How “do you know the scriptures to be the word of God?” And then they fail not to assert, first, that the scripture is imperfect; and, secondly, that what is delivered therein can no way be rightly and truly understood, but by the help of those traditions which they have in their custody. But although these are advantageous inventions, yet their advocates cannot be allowed the credit of their being the first authors, seeing they are expressly borrowed from the Jews.
4. When these two laws, the laws of God and their own, come in competition, many of the Jews prefer that of their own invention before the other, both as to certainty and use; hence they make it the foundation of their church, and the only safe means to preserve
the truth. - It seems they have at least shewed themselves more benign towards mankind, than they would allow God to be, inasmuch as they have committed this secret law to writing. And to this purpose is their confession, (in 317 najn the golden altar) "It is impos“sible for us to stand, or abide, upon the foundation of “our holy law, which is the written law; unless it be by “the oral law, which is the exposition thereof." Wherein they not only declare their judgments concerning their traditions, but also express the reason of their obstinate adherence to them; which is, that without it they cannot maintain themselves in their present Judaism. And so, indeed, is the case; innumerable testimonies of scripture rising up directly against their infidelity, they were not able to keep their station, but by an horrible corrupting of them through their traditions. On this account it is a common thing with them, in the advice they give to their disciples, to prefer the study of the Talmud before the study of the scripture, and the sayings of their wise men before the sayings of the prophets; and plainly express an utter disregard of the written word, any farther than as they suppose the sense of it explained in their oral law. Neither are they here forsaken by their associates; for the principal design of all the books which have been lately published by the Romanists (and they have not been a few) hath been to prove the certainty and sufficiency of their traditions in matters of faith and worship, above that of the written word.
5. There are some few remaining, among the Eastern Jews, who reject all this story concerning the oral law, and professedly adhere to the written word only. These the masters of their present religion brand as heretics; calling them (59877) scripturists or biblists, while at the same time the greatest part of their
Talmud, the sacred treasury of their oral laro, is taken up with differences and disputes of their masters among themselves, with a multitude of various and contradictory conceptions about their traditional reveries. Thus deal the Romanists also with their adversaries; this they charge them with: they are heretics, they are biblists; and, by adhering to scripture alone, have no certainty among themselves, but run into diversities of opinions, as having deserted the unerring rule of their cabala; when the world is filled with the noise of their own conflicts, notwithstanding their pretended relief. And as the Jewish traditions have been committed to writing, so the Romish are recorded in the rescripts of popes, decrees of councils, and constitutions of the canon law, and the like sacred
But here the Jews deal far more ingenuously than they; for the former tell us plainly, that now their whole oral law is written, and that they have no reserve of their authentic traditions undeclared. But here the Romanists fail us; for although they have given us “heaps upon heaps” of traditions, by the means before mentioned, yet they plead, that they have still an inexhaustible treasure of them laid
in their church stores, and the breast of their holy father, to be drawn forth at all times, as occasion may require. What a convenient reserve! what an enviable privilege!