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(2.) Experience shows that tradition tends to the corruption of truth. We see mankind so prone to misrepresentation, and so many additions made to a matter of fact as it is reported, that if religion had not a more assured foundation than tradition, it could not have that credit paid to it, which it ought to have. Among the Jews, we have frequent instances of this uncertainty, so that our Saviour chides them for making the law of God of no effect by their traditions." (Matt. xv. 6.) We find also that from submitting to the authority of tradition, they were led to interpret the prophecies concerning the Messiah sitting on the throne of David, literally, and consequently rejected Christ from the poverty of his appearance. From the same cause, they valued mere ceremonial observances above the moral law, and thought a performance of the former would atone for a violation of the latter; so that when they saw Christ and his Apostles disclaiming the authority of tradition, and setting the Gentiles at liberty from those obser

of it, therefore, as a medium of conveying revelation, shows that even under circumstances exactly analogous to their own, this corruption may and does take place. 2. They cannot prove the infallibility of the persons who handed down this tradition ; for oral tradition can only be committed to individuuls. Now they never ascribe infallibility to each of the fathers personally, and conseqnently the objections in the text are valid, since those fathers might err in the conveyance of the doctrine.


vances, their prejudices against them were increased And hence the rejection of the Messiah, and the persecution of his followers originated in their belief of tradition.

(3.) Such traditions as were held in the early ages, but were unsupported by Scripture, wer: subsequently rejected. Thus, the opinion of Christ's reign on earth for a thousand years; the necessity of giving infants the Eucharist, and the Divine inspiration of the seventy interpreters, have been laid aside in later times. This fact proves, that even though there did exist some Apostolical traditions, the Church cannot know what they are; for if she had this knowledge, she would not have given that title to such as she afterwards violated."

(4.) The early Fathers place no reliance on tradition. Thus, in the disputes with the Gnostics and other heretics, who pretended to the possession of an Apostolical tradition for the explana

a The force of this argument is increased by the fact, that none agree in what are traditions, and what are not; for those doctrines which one writer declares are derived solely from tradition, another proves conclusively from Scripture. See Field, of the Church, B. 4. p. 376.

+ Thus, Basil (de Spir. Sanc. c. 27,) accounts “ traditions as equal with the Word of God." Yet those traditions which he there enumerates, are now all abolished in the Roman Church.

See Jewel's Def. of Apol. p. 200. Ed. Lond. 1609. Also Bishop J. Taylor's Polemical Discourses, sec. 5. p. 978. Ed. Lond. 1674.

tion of Scripture, Irenæusa and Tertullian, make use of two sorts of arguments : the one is the authority of the Bible, by which they confute their errors; the other is a point of fact, that there was no such tradition. In asserting this, they appeal to those Churches which had been founded by the Apostles, and in which, they say, we must search for Apostolical tradition. By this, they did not mean to establish tradition as an authority distinct from the Scriptures, but merely that if any such tradition existed, it should be found in those Churches, and since it was not found in them, the pretence of the heretics was false.

2. The sufficiency of Scripture is proved by the declarations of Christ and his Apostles. In all his disputes with the Pharisees, our Saviour justifies himself and his doctrine by words of Scripture, but never once by tradition. He desires them" to search the Scriptures, for in them, ye “ think ye have eternal life, and they are they “ which testify of me.” (John, v. 39.) The phrase " ye think,” does not refer to any particular conceit of theirs, but imports that as they thought, so in them they had eternal life.

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a L. 3. c. 1, 2, &c.
b De Præsc. cap. 20, 21, 25, 27, 28.

The general way of explaining this verse, is by taking this phrase, ye think, in its natural signification. If the Jews were right

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In the same way, the Apostles in all their disputes with the Jews, make their appeals constantly to the Scriptures. They account “ the “ Bereans to be more noble than those of Thes“ salonica, because they searched the Scriptures

daily whether those things were so.” (Acts, xvii. 11.) St. Paul says, that “all Scripture is

given by inspiration of God, and is profitable “ for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in“ struction in righteousness, that the man of “ God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished “ unto every good work.” (2 Tim. iii: 16.)a Again, we are informed by St. Luke, that the design of his writing his Gospel, was “that we might “ know the certainty of those things wherein we “ have been instructed.” (Luke, i. 4.) St. John

, “these things were written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the “ Son of God, and that believing, ye might have “ life through his name.” (John, xx. 31.)

For the same reason, St. Peter, when he was near his end, wrote his Second Epistle, that they might have it as a mean “ of keeping these things always in remembrance.” (2 Pet. i. 15.)

It is objected, however, that the Apostles

likewise says,

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in their conceit, the conclusion is plain; if they were wrong, our Saviour would not have left them in so dangerous an error.

See Whitby, Hammond, and Doddridge, in loc.

a See Beveridge on the Articles, and Stunhope in loc.

sometimesa refer to a tradition existing in particular Churches. But it is certain that by tradition in their days, was understood merely the conveyance of the faith, and not any unwritten doctrines.

If what it contained in Scripture in express words, be the object of our faith, then it follows, that whatsoever may be proved from thence by a just and lawful consequence, is also to be believed. This is evident from two reasons : lst, Erery just inference from a proposition must be us true as the proposition itself ; and 2dly, It is authorized by the example of our Saviour and his Apostles.

It is objected against this practice, that the Scriptures are dark, and are therefore liable to be misunderstood. All sects argue from thence, and fancy that they find their tenets in it, and therefore this can be no sure way of finding out sacred truth, since so many err that follow it.d

In answer to this, it is to be considered, that,


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Thus, in 2 Thess. ii. 15, “ Hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our Epistle."

Thus, in 1 Cor. xv. 3, “ I delivered (handed down by tradition) to you, that which I also received, how that Christ died for oar sins.” See Marsh's Compar. View, p. 64.

See Matt. xxii. 31, 41.

This objection is answered by Bishop Jewel, in a strain of the mosi convincing and nervous eloquence, in his Apology, sec. 1. Ed. Campbell, 1813.


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