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OF THE SUFFICIENCY OF HOLY SCRIP.
TURES FOR SALVATION.
HOLY SCRIPTURE CONTAINETH ALL THINGS NECESSARY TO
SALVATION; SO THAT WHATSOEVER IS NOT READ
NAME OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE, WE DO UNDERSTAND
BOOKS OF THE OLD AND NEW
TESTAMENT, OF WHOSE AUTHORITY WAS NEVER ANY
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical
The First Book of Samuel. Exodas.
The Second Book of Samuel. Leviticus.
The First Book of Kings. Numbers.
The Second Book of Kings. Deuteronomy.
The First Book of Chronicles. Joshua.
The Second Book of Chronicles. Judges.
The First Book of Esdras. a Ruth.
The Second Book of Esdras.
The Jews classed the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah together, under the name of the First and Second Book of Esdras; Esdras being another title for Ezra.
The Book of Hester.
Ecclesiastes, or Preacher.
AND THE OTHER BOOKS (AS JEROME SAITH,) THE CHURCH DOTH
READ FOR EXAMPLE OF LIFE AND INSTRUCTION OF MANNERS;
MONLY RECEIVED, WE DO RECEIVE AND ACCOUNT THEM CA
THERE are two assertions made in this article.
I. Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary for salvation ; and
II. The Books which we receive are the only Canonical Scripture.
I. Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary for salvation.
Having established the foundation of Christianity in the doctrine of the Trinity and the
Incarnation of Christ, the next point to be settled is, what is the rule of this Faith, and where it is to be found ? The Church of England and of Rome agree in asserting the inspiration of Scripture; but besides this, the latter hold that the Books of the New Testament were not written with the design of making them the full rule of faith, but that many things were delivered orally by the Apostles, which, if faithfully transmitted to us, we are to receive with the same respect that we pay to their writings;a and that to secure such a faithful transmission, there was an infallible authority lodged by Christ with his Church. We, on the contrary, affirm, that the Scriptures are a complete rule of faith, and that the whole Christian religion is contained in them alone; and though we make great use of ancient tradition to help us to a clear understanding of the written Word, still as to matters of faith, we reject it altogether.
The assertion of the article, may be established by two kinds of arguments: 1. Negatively, from the inadequacy of oral tradition; and 2. Positively, from the sufficiency of Scripture.
The inadequacy of oral tradition is evident from the following considerations : (1.) History
“ Pari pietatis
a See Bellarmine de Verb. Dei. 1. 4. c. 12. affectu et reverentiâ." Conc. Trid. Sess. 4.
evinces this inadequacy, even under the most favourable circumstances. In the first ages of the world, it must have been much easier to preserve the tradition pure, than it could possibly be afterwards. There were then only a few things to be delivered concerning God, as that he was one spiritual Being, that he had created all things, and that he alone was the object of worship. The first men, too, were very long lived, and saw their own families spread extremely, so that they had on their side the authority and credit of parents with their children, to secure tradition. Thus, a Methuselah lived above three hundred years while Adam was yet alive, and Shem was an hundred years old when the former died, and also lived upwards of an hundred years along with Abraham; so that the original revelation could have been conveyed to the latter by only two persons. Yet, even under these cir. cumstances, the tradition had become so entirely corrupted, that it was necessary to correct it by immediate revelation to Abraham, who was ob. liged to quit his country in order to escape from its idolatrous practices, and his posterity to be: marked with the sign of circumcision, in order to separate them from the rest of mankind.
Again, though the promulgation of the law at Mount Sinai, was, from the circumstances of
See Gen. v. 10 and 11.
b Gen. xii. 1., and xxxi. 19.
its delivery, one of the most amazing things that ever happened, and the fittest to be orally conveyed down; though the law was short, and the ceremonies of their religion to be performed by the members of one family; though they were all of one language, and obliged to maintain a constant commerce among themselves; though they had signal characters of God's miraculous presence among them, as in the trial by the water of jealousy,a the overplus of the sixth to supply the Sabbatical year, a constant succession of prophets, and the answers by the Urim and Thummim; still, notwithstanding all these circumstances, God commanded them to write their law, a command which could only originate in his intention to secure revealed religion from the doubtfulness and uncertainties of oral tradition. If, then, tradition was thus declared by God an incompetent means of conveying revelation, with every advantage on its side, much more is it an incompetent means, when there are no such advantages, as in the Christian Church.
* Num. v. 11.; Lev. xxv. 1., and Exod. xxviii. 30.
Roman Catholics are willing to admit, that tradition is liable to corruption from the nature of man, but they say this liability is obviated by the possession of infallibility. This argument, therefore, may seem inconclusive. Bat it is to be considered, they admit that the Jewish Church had the same infallibility. God's rejectiou