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whatever connected with tradition of doctrine, but is applied to the written word. Tradition of testimony, and tradition, as a rule of faith, differ as much one from the other, as an uninterrupted chain of evidence in a court of justice, which establishing a fact, differs from an opinion, or saying of a philosopher or divine, handed down from time to time, through the medium of interested followers, unsupported by the three essential properties of valid and unimpeachable testimonyUniversality, antiquity, and consent.
An old Father, speaking of the tradition of the Catholic church, gives the following definition : It consists, he observes, in antiquity, universality, and consent. This was his only rule of expounding Scripture, but not of determining controversies in religion: and those churches only, he asserts to be Catholic, who hold, what hath been believed every where, always, and by all.
When, therefore, observes a most able writer on this subject, we speak of tradition of testimony, tradition of ceremonies, and tradition of interpretation, we must take care not to confound any of them with that sort of tradition, which is to the church of Rome a rule of faith, and which is exclusively applicable to the unwritten word. For tradition in this sense must be considered as too deceitful a thing to be relied on for so great a matter as salvation. Well,
therefore, does Bishop Marsh observe, that “it was not probable that an all-wise providence, imparting a new revelation to mankind, would suffer any doctrine, or article of faith, to be transmitted to posterity by so precarious a means as that of oral tradition.”
There is no need for me to remind this congregation, that the rejection of tradition, as a rule of faith, constituted the vital principle of the Reformation.' Were tradition to be received among us, as a rule of faith, the pure and reformed religion of
“I, for my part, after a long, and as I verily believe and hope, impartial search after the true way of eternal life and happiness, do profess plain, that I cannot find any rest for the sole of my foot, but upon this rock only,—the Bible, the Bible alone. I see plainly, with my own eyes, that there are Popes against Popes, Councils against Councils, some Fathers against others, the same Fathers against themselves, the current of Fathers of one age against the current of Fathers of another age, the Church of one age against the Church of another age. Traditive interpretations are pretended, but there are few or none to be found. No tradition, but only of scripture, can derive itself from the fountain, but may be proved to be brought in, in such an age after Cnrist, or that in such an age it was not in. In a word, there is no sufficient certainty, but of scripture, for any considering man to build upon.—Propose to me any thing out of this book (Bible) and require whether I believe or no, and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe it with heart and hand, as knowing, no demonstration can be stronger than this— God hath said so, therefore it is true.'”—Chillingworth.
our Church, ceases to exist, and the Ark of God falls before the dagon of superstition. The chief ground of all errors in the Church of Rome is, the overvaluing traditions which the Tridentine synod profess to receive and reverence equally with, yea, above the written word.
Sure, says an eminent prelate, that man cannot be deemed honest whose tongue goes against his own hand. How heinous an imputation do they cast upon the God of truth, who plead tradition derived from Him, contrary to his own word! The traditions which the Romish Church lifts up to an unjust competition with the written word, our Saviour hath levelled with the dust.“ In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” And his servant Paul, having before his prophetic view, all the devices of “the man of sin,” guards his Colossian converts against this very artifice of tradition. “Beware of being deceived through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The next specious fallacy, in close connexion with tradition, by which the Popish disputant deceives the ignorant and unstable, is, the authority of the Church. The term is very imposing and startling; for what good Christian is not ready to bow to the authority of the Church?
But here arises a previous question, — What Church? The Romanists have assumed to themselves, exclusively, the title of Catholic, or Unj. versal. This appellation describes and insinuates unwarrantable pretensions, which are alike contradicted by Scripture, reason, and antiquity.' The phrase Καθολική Εκκλησία, was first used by St. Ignatius, to denote, not a particular church, but the whole Christian Church, diffused over the whole world; of which, Christ is the only Head. * Where the Bishop presides," says the old Martyr, “ there let the congregation assemble ; as where Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. The people are to adhere to the Bishop as the Universal Church adheres to Christ.”
Our xixth Article agrees with this definition of a Catholic church :-“ A visible church of men, in all places in which the pure word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance.” “These words are correspondent with the direction of our blessed Lord on this point, as gathered from the sacred volume. Knowing what great confusion would be in the last days, He commands, that those that are Christians, and would receive confirmation of the faith, should fly to nothing but
• See Appendix, G.
the Scriptures. If they have recourse to any other help, they shall be offended, and perish, not understanding which is the true Church.” To this rule and standard we firmly adhere, and by this criterion we would be tried, whether we be a true Church or not.
But let our Mother speak for herself, in rhe own words. “It is not lawful,” says our ninth Article, “to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's word written, neither may it expound one place of Scripture against another : wherefore, although the Church be a witness and keeper of Holy Writ, yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so, besides the same, ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation.” To what authority shall we have recourse? to that Church whose opinions correspond with those of the Great Head of the Church Universal—to the authority of a Church that only claims for herself the modest and unassuming title of a witness, keeper, aud defender of holy writ; or to the authority of a Church that arrogates to herself a power above the Scriptures, and of superadding to the written word, articles of faith never heard of during the first ages of Christianity ?
On the authority of what church can we rest with greater safety than on that of England ? for she embodies in her constitution all that is an